There are several reason why you are getting so much spam, but the main reason probably is that your email address is nekkid all over the internet. Just Google your email address and you’ll see what I mean. If you are like most people who have had their email address for a while, most likely it’s everywhere as a hot link or text. That means spam bots can easily find it and harvest it for their collection of active email addresses.
How did my email addy get nekkid?
Unfortunately, more often than you realized, you may have posted your email address in public on a web site. For example, let’s say you mention your email address in a comment you posted on someone’s blog. Spammers regularly scour the internet looking for anything that looks like an email address, and they start sending spam to it. Or perhaps you posted your email address in public on a newsgroup or forum. Many forums still display publicly whatever email address you give them. Many do not, so it’s important to know the difference.
One unintentional way is that a friend of yours may have forwarded an email of yours without removing your email address from it. I see this all the time with forwarded humor – people hit forward and then fail to take the time to remove all the email headers from the body of the message. That email frequently ends up getting forwarded to people who then scan the email body for anything that looks like an email address.
There are many more ways that spammers can get your email address; Spam is, unfortunately, inevitable.
So, what can you do?
I know it makes it difficult when you want to market your site and services all across the internet, or sign up for deals and steals, but every time you place your email address out there you are inviting spammers to come harvest it. It’s always best to try to hide your email address in a form if possible. But sometimes that simply cannot be done. While I have set up an email form for each of my clients on their Contact page, that only helps disguise it on their own website.
You can sometimes reduce the amount of spam by making sure your ISP and/or your email program has a spam filter, and that the filter is enabled. There is sometimes an added fee for this service, but if you get a lot of email, it’s well worth it.
Of course, you can always change your email address periodically. But this can be painful since all your contacts need to update their information in order to contact you.
The real answer is that there is no one answer. There is no single solution that will make spam stop without also preventing legitimate messages from getting through.
The good news!
The good news is that by following a combination of actions, you can greatly reduce the amount of spam you do receive. As the WebGoddess, my email address is all over the internet, but fortunately by using the recommendations listed below I have been able to keep my spam to a very reasonable level. Perhaps one or two a month. I can live with that.
- Use a contact form on your website instead of a hotlink or plain text.
- Disguise your e-mail addresses posted in public places. use the word AT and DOT in place of the @ symbol and period.
- Carefully read privacy policies at sites asking for your e-mail address and look for opt-out choices.
- Use multiple e-mail addresses, including ones for specific purposes such as posting to newsgroups.
- Consider a spam filter if your Internet service provider offers one.
Of course it helps a great deal if you have an email address that isn’t gmail or yahoo or hotmail or verizon or att or wowway or, well you get the picture. Those are the email types spam bots actively seek out. If you can, buy a domain name, create an email associated with that domain, and then set it up so you can access your email either through Outlook or your favorite browser. Need help with this? Contact me and I’ll be glad to set up something for you;-)