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Filter. Filter filter filter. And then filter.

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Use any filters your ISP or email provider have in place

Ask your ISP or online ser­vice if they pro­vide any fil­ter­ing and if they do then take advan­tage of it. If it’s impor­tant enough to you, and they don’t pro­vide that ser­vice, either switch or put pres­sure on them to add that feature.

AOL users can enable fil­ter­ing by chang­ing their pref­er­ences some­where online—under Mar­ket­ing Pref­er­ences, I think, but it’s been a long time since I used AOL (and they did­n’t offer those fil­ters back then).

Hot­mail and some of the oth­er web-based email ser­vices also offer spam fil­ter­ing now, although I don’t know how well they work. GMail’s fil­ters are quite effi­cient, so much so that I don’t think I’ve ever received spam in that account. I have learned to check for valid mes­sages marked as spam, though.

Caveat: if your ISP or oth­er ser­vice uses a “chal­lenge and response” (C/R) sys­tem to avoid unwant­ed mes­sages, please don’t use it. C/R sys­tems are bro­ken, and make it much less like­ly that you’ll actu­al­ly hear from legit­i­mate contacts.

Use the fil­ters in your email pro­gram. Most of the com­mon­ly-used pro­grams, like Thun­der­bird, Out­look, Eudo­ra and Pega­sus, can fil­ter your mail for you now. Check cnet’s if your cur­rent email pro­gram does­n’t have fil­ters built in. Even though I get hun­dreds of mes­sages a day, it’s always easy to spot any­thing unwant­ed that gets that far right away—the spam stays in the inbox, and all the expect­ed email is fil­tered to fold­ers for lists, newslet­ters, cor­re­spon­dents, etc.

If you run your own mail serv­er, you can use proc­mail or Spam Assas­sin or oth­er tools to set up fil­ters at the serv­er level.

Then there’s the not-free—but not expensive—service, Spam­Cop. They catch almost all the spam, and you can set up your own whitelist and black­list of address­es in addi­tion to their fil­ters. I’ve been using their ser­vice for many years now, and I love it. If you’re on a lot of mail­ing lists, though, you’ll prob­a­bly want to set up a sep­a­rate account for those that don’t go through Spam­Cop. They make it very easy to report any spam that does get through (on that or any of your oth­er address­es), which serves to improve their filters.

Back to Avoid­ing Spam

Pho­to by Solen Feyis­sa on Unsplash