General Questions & Answers about Spam
What is spam?
Spam is an unsolicited email or newsgroup posting usually advertising some product or service.
Who invented spam?
Spam is not a new phenomenon. It was actually "invented" in 1994 by 2 American lawyers Canter and Siegel, who earned money by obtaining Greencards for people. The word spam itself comes from the American food producer, Hormel, who produces a "meat product", that is a lot like ham. The word spam later became immortalized by the English comic Monty Python who sang the song: Spam spam lovely spam. Who has related unwanted mails with the ham product no one knows. Since Canter and Siegel introduced the world to spam, the spam industry has boomed, and spam has plagued the world. Most of spam mails come from USA, but other countries such as Korea, Russia, and China are also sending spam.
Which types of spam are there?
There are many types of spam mails. Here are the most seen types of spam mails:
The most typical type of spam is a mail with offering products or services.
Typically, these e-mails are filled with words such as free, viagra, loan, sex, etc. In USA it is expected that people will be sent between 500 - 1,000 a day.
Another type of spam mail are the Nigerian letters. These are sent by smart business men who try to make you believe that they have inherited a lot of money which only you can help them get out of the Western world.You must send them your savings so they can open an account where the money can be placed. In the beginning these letters were called Nigerian-letters, because they were typically from Nigeria, but now they come from all over the world in various types.
The Nigerian letters have existed for more than 20 years, they were simply being sent to people by mail, but now it is cheaper and easier to scam people. Although it sounds strange, there are people everyday who get on board and send their money to these nice people, and of course never see a penny of it in return.
Finally we have the so called Phishing-mails. The idea here is, that you suddenly will get an e-mail from your bank, etc. with a warning that you should quickly change your password on your net banking as there is a possibility that a person has broken into your account. You click on the link and dont realize that you are coming into a completely perfect copy of your banks website. Here you give your username and password, you come in, and get the right to change your settings followed by a message that everything is ok now. You have by now surely guessed that you did not visit your banks website, but some nasty thieves instead. They now have your user name and password to your net bank, and they in no time at all come into your account and take everything you own.
There are many varities of Phishing, but typically it is the bank, credit card company, etc. that will suddenly "write to you".
Why do I get so much spam?
Spam is cheap marketing, sending messages to millions of people for costs of less than a dollar. This is only possible because spammers shift the burden of cost from the sender to the receiver. Sadly some people also actually buy some of the goods offered. All of this means that spammers are not likely to stop spamming in the near future. So PLEASE DON'T BUY ANYTHING ADVERTISED BY SPAM!
This will only make them spam more. If there is something advertised by spam that actually interests you, find it somewhere else on-line! Take the boulder pledge and avoid buying products promoted by spam.
How does the spammer get my email address?
Spammers have a lot of different ways to get your address. The only thing you can be sure of is that they will get it sooner or later.
If I don't give out my email address, will I avoid spam?
This is a well known myth. Of course that strategy will have some impact in the short run, but over a longer period spammers will get your address one way or another. It just takes one message in a guest book, one post in a newsgroup, one on-line product purchase, or one subscription to a newsletter, and your address can be shared and sold all over the web. For less than $100 spammers can buy 15 million email addresses and soon your address will be among them, sadly...
Can I unsubscribe from a spam mail?
Don't ever do that! Spammers use that method to validate addresses. If you reply to unsubscribe, and in some cases if you just open the mail, your address is validated as being alive and that means spam will increase dramatically. If you did not subscribe to something you should not unsubscribe from it. If you did subscribe, then remember to unsubscribe when you don't want the newsletter anymore, instead of blocking it.
What can I do about viruses?
SPAMfighter is the number one tool for filtering spam, but if you want to get rid of viruses, you should take a look at VIRUSfighter.
A good piece of advice:
Never open a spam mail and remember to turn the preview pane off, so only those messages you deliberately open are displayed. The pictures in spam mails are usually made so spammers can see if you open them and that means lots of spam.
To turn the preview pane off:
Outlook Express: Click View Menu > Layout and remove the check mark beside Show Preview Pane.
Outlook Express 6.0 offers a "Read all messages as plain text" option. This is a good alternative to disabling the preview pane.
Outlook 2000/XP: Click View Menu > Preview Pane.
Outlook 2003: Click View Menu > Reading Pane > Off