Methods For Dealing With Spam

Tired of receiving unwanted email? Here are some basic methods for dealing with spam:

  • Just delete the offending message.
    This is probably the easiest method of all. However, it does nothing to stop spammers. If you want to fight back, you'll have to take more assertive measures.
  • Use email filtering to send spam automatically to your trash bin.
    This is an option with some email software. The only advantage of filtering is that it allows you to delete unsolicited email without the emotional trauma of actually seeing it in your inbox. Again, it does nothing to deter spammers.
  • Ask to be removed from the list.
    Some spammers give you this option -- or pretend to. Some may actually comply. Others just use this as a ruse to get you to confirm that yours is a working address. The result: more spam. If you have to ask pretty-please to be removed from every spam list that picks you up, it'll be a never-ending process. In my opinion, asking a spammer to remove you means caving in to his abusive tactics. Nobody should have to ask to be removed from an email list they never asked to be on in the first place.
  • Complain to the sender or advertiser.
    That is, if you can find out who they are -- most hide their identities. However, some spam advertisers are genuinely ignorant of Internet marketing and have been taken in by the spammer's deceptive pitch. A reasonable person will usually listen to your complaint -- if you present it in a reasonable way.
  • Complain to the postmaster or abuse department at the spammer's domain.
    Often you can reach someone at or -- or sometimes or (you need to substitute the spammer's actual domain where I've used ""). You should send along a complete copy of the message, with full headers. Keep in mind that many (if not most) spammers hide their identities through false headers. You may have to closely analyze the message headers to determine the real domain the spam was sent from.
  • Try to reach upstream providers who provide access or Web hosting for the spammer.
    Most providers prohibit spam on their systems and will kick spammers off the Net when they find out about their activities. Many Web hosts will remove a person from their system if they find out the person is using spam to promote a Web site. I often use the traceroute tool to track down spammers. Traceroute comes as part of the Sam Spade [] and Cyberkit [] packages.
  • Block spammers' addresses and domains that harbor spammers.
    It's possible for your company's or ISP's email system to block abusive domains at the server level. It's also possible to subscribe to services that identify and block spammers across the Internet. Bright Light [] is one of those systems.
  • Take legal action.
    Depending on which state (or country or province) you live in, there may be laws that protect you from spammers. You may even be able to collect damages. Check with the office of your attorney general.

Understanding the request form...

  • What are you selling: Most email campaigns are selling a product or service. Name that product and/or service in this field. (for example: security services, accounting software)
  • Target Market: Name here who you see as the market or potential buyers of your product/service. (for example: home owners, accountants)
  • Size of your mailing: How many emails do you plan to send -- this will affect your potential revenue and cost. (for example: 100,000 to 250,000)
  • Your Time Frame: When do you plan to do your mailing? (for example: mailing within one month)
  • Campaign Details: Give a more complete description of what you are planning. (for example: I plan to do 3 sequential mailings to homeowners in New Jersey in order to sell a new security system.)
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