Anyone who sends and receives e-mail has gotten it. It may involve a business trying to sell you something you don’t want. It may even involve someone attempting to send you a computer virus or worm in an attachment. It may involve someone you’ve never met, who lives in another country, asking you to help transfer funds to the United States, but naturally you will have to use your money to fulfill the request of the sender. We’ve all gotten it, but how does one protect himself from SPAM, or unsolicited commercial e-mail?
The first thing to be aware of is that not everything you receive that you think is SPAM actually is-even if your e-mail looks strange, even if you don’t remember signing up for anything remotely like what you have received. That is because whenever you give your personal and contact information to any website, you may be told that your information will be shared with affiliates. You may or may not be asked for permission for this to happen. As a result, a lot of the e-mail you receive that may look like SPAM may not be. The sender may have your unwitting permission to send the e-mail-at least if you haven’t read all the information carefully on various websites you have visited.
Often you can protect yourself from this e-mail, even though it is not legally SPAM, in a couple of ways. First, read carefully how a website says your information will be used. Do not give permission for it to be used in a way you would not want. Second, read all the information in any undesired e-mails you receive. Does the e-mail say you have given permission for the solicitation? Even if it does, it should also give instructions for removing your name from the contact list. Follow the written instructions, and hopefully you won’t receive any of those e-mails again.
E-mail that is legally considered SPAM is also a big problem. In 1996, there were 20,000,000 e-mail users in the United States sending 500,000,000 e-mails daily. Even at that time, it was estimated that one third of e-mails sent on AOL were SPAM.
Current statistics are even worse. The website, www.spam-filter-review.toptenreviews.com, shows that so far in 2006, 40% of all e-mails are considered SPAM. A total of 12.4 billion e-mails that are considered SPAM are sent every day. The average person receives six SPAM messages daily or 2,200 annually. The cost to Internet users for SPAM annually is $255 million. The cost to corporations was $8.9 billion in 2002. All this is despite the fact that 26 states have laws to protect against SPAM, and 16% of the people who change e-mail addresses do so because of SPAM. In addition, SPAM is expected to increase by 63% in 2007, so anything that can help protect against the unwanted e-mails would be welcome. There are things that can be done to protect against SPAM.
Websites such as www.spambouncer.org, and www.scambusters.org, www.spamassassins.apache.org (although this is not for a computer with a Windows operating system, there is a link to get software that is for Windows), www.outlook-spam-filter.com, www.spambully.com, www.download.com, and www.spamihilator.com, allow people to control the information they receive. There are many other similar websites
There is no doubt that SPAM is costly. You should never buy anything from any company that sends you SPAM. Protecting yourself against SPAM is important, because with SPAM is different than mail sent through the United States Post Office. With mail sent through the post office, the printing, packaging, and postal fees are absorbed by the advertiser. With e-mail, the Internet Service Provider and the receiver bear the cost of SPAM through maintenance and monthly subscription fees. That is similar to receiving junk faxes or telemarketing calls made on a cellular phone.
Many times the companies that send large quantities of SPAM either maintain anonymity or market themselves as a legitimate company. If the companies remain anonymous, those who receive the SPAM cannot request to be taken off the mailing list. The companies will continue to send the unwanted messages. The reputation of legitimate companies could also be damaged by companies that use SPAM and pretend to be legitimate. Those in legitimate companies might also have to waste valuable time responding to complaints about SPAM.
Often Congress has attempted to pass laws to protect against SPAM, without success. In 2000, the Unsolicited Electronic Mail Act was introduced, but it was not passed. The proposed law would have required those who send advertisements in an e-mail to label the advertisements as such.
SPAM has grown to become a major problem for Internet users, but there are things you can do to protect yourself from the unwanted e-mail.