Prevent junk mail and sending spam emails

It’s unlikely you’ll get rid of spam for good. Junk email is one of the facts of the web, frustrating as it can be. But there are steps you can take to limit the amount of spam email you receive.

Remember above all, if you find that your Junk Folder is capturing spam each day, that’s good news! It shows that it’s working the way it’s supposed to. If spam messages reach your main inbox, mark them as spam or drag them into your Junk Folder.

How much spam is too much spam?

Some spam will always get through. If you’re only getting five a day, it’s not worth worrying about. If you find your email flooded with a sudden burst of spam messages, it’s worth taking some extra security precautions.

Using your email system’s spam filtering and alert tools, mark the suspicious messages as Junk or as Phishing (scam) emails. This should alert your email provider to filter out similar emails or emails from the same sender, or warn that a friend’s email has been spoofed or hacked.

Be careful with spam

To prevent yet more spam messages flooding your account, treat the messages you’re already receiving with care. It’s best to avoid opening spam emails, or allowing them to load pictures. Don’t reply to the messages – this can validate your email address as an active one, leading to more spam.

Never click on links in spam emails, and don’t download attachments. Emails can include web beacons, web bugs or tracking pixels that tell spammers you have accessed an email and that your account is a live one.

Don’t share your email too widely

The secret to keeping your email account mostly spam-free is to limit how widely you use your email address. This can prove impractical if taken too far – for instance, you’ll always need to share your address with your contacts. But you aim to use your address with as few services as possible.

In particular, don’t post it online where it can be harvested by would-be spammers. This includes using your email address on message boards or forums on the internet.

Watch what you sign up to

Don’t give your email address to companies that you don’t trust. And when you do share it, make sure you are not opting in to marketing emails, newsletters and other filler.

Reputable companies should always provide a simple way to unsubscribe from their mailing lists, if you change your mind about receiving their updates.

Consider a new email address

Though it can be a pain to create a new email account, you’ll see less spam if you got a new email address. First, your new address would not be on any of the mailing lists used by spammers – at least for a while. Second, you could use a service that blocks more spam, such as Google’s Gmail or Microsoft’s Outlook.com. Different email services have levels of spam blocking features in place, and you may find your new account does a better job at filtering out the dross. 

Many Which? members suggest using two email addresses (or more) to limit spam. You could use one for friends and family, and another for websites and services that you sign up to. The latter is more likely to receive the bulk of the spam messages.

I am sending spam emails

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