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SPAM Diet and Other E-mail FAQs

Written by Jacob C. Herman


The SPAM Diet and Other E-mail FAQs


How many times have we checked our e-mail inbox and found messages that we didn't expect and didn't want? You know the ones I mean, the e-mails with subjects of low cost pharmaceuticals, weight loss pills and a host of others. Those messages are SPAM messages.


SPAM is defined as receiving, or sending unsolicited bulk e-mail. SPAM messages are characterized as blanket messages being sent to a large distribution network, without regard to recipients. Sending unsolicited messages is a worldwide problem, but the three largest SPAM producing countries are the United States, China and South Korea. But as consumers, the thing we need to know about SPAM is that it is illegal!


To counteract the increasing numbers of SPAM messages being sent and received, the U.S. government enacted the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act). The legislation laid the foundation of what is considered SPAM and what must be done by the sender for the e-mail to be considered legitimate. The messages must include information identifying the e-mail as an advertisement, must provide a way to opt-out of future messages, must provide a physical address of the sender and must not have a misleading subject line.


Despite the legislation, SPAM messages are still a problem. Here are some common questions and answers about unwanted e-mail.


Q: How can I reduce the amount of unwanted e-mail?


A: Spammers get e-mail addresses from a variety of sources. They get them from the web posts and listings on sites. To reduce the amount of e-mail , limit the exposure of your address to just necessary locations.


Q: Are there any other methods to reduce SPAM ?


A: Many Internet security programs now come with SPAM filters which will help reduce the amount of unwanted messages going into your inbox.


Q: What should I do if I receive SPAM messages?


A: First, make sure you don't respond to them. Spammers are looking for valid e-mail addresses and if you respond, you will receive more unwanted e-mails. Another alternative is to contact the live answering service of the business to see if the message is legitimate. If they e-mailer has not followed the rules of the CAN-SPAM Act, you should contact the Federal Trade Commission website and file a complaint.


Other resources on fighting SPAM are available:


· SPAM Abuse Net – information on how to fight SPAM.


· SPAM Help – resources and news on the war against unwanted e-mail.


· SPAM Links – information and resources on preventing SPAM.


SPAM has been a problem for many years. However, with government action, public awareness and prevention tools available, the amount of unwanted e-mail messages is being reduced. With continued emphasis on this problem, this trend will continue in the foreseeable future.


Q: How do I make sure my important emails are filtered as SPAM?


A: Some emails, such as your voicemail and call center messages, should always be placed on a "Safe List" to ensure that you always receive them. There are many sites such as the Microsoft and Mozilla websites that have instructions on how to placed specific emails on lists that ensure you receive them.


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