Eric Wolfram's Writing, How To Stop SPAM

Stop SPAM, anti-spam blocking software and using Spam Filters

What is SPAM? SPAM is unsolicited email. It is the Internet's version of junk mail. Whenever you receive an email from someone you don't know, be skeptical. Don't respond to the email, because this will confirm that your email address is, in fact, read by a real person. Responding to spam will result in more SPAM to you. Don't click on any links, because the links are often coded, and clicking on one of the links will result in more SPAM in the future. Sometimes the email will try to trick you into responding with a request to be taken off the list. Don't -- this is a trick and it will result in more SPAM.

What should you do?
Delete the email. That is the best thing to do. If the email seems fraudulent (WARNING: Many of the SPAM emails ARE fraudulent), if the email is asking you to send money, or if the email is promising that you will get money if you give them your VISA number or bank account number; you may want to report it.

Most importantly: If an email is asking you to forward the email to all of your friends, and if you feel compelled to do so, PLEASE make sure to first confirm that it is an email based in truth. Many emails that ask people to forward the email to all their friends are, in fact, untrue. Search UrbanLegendsZeitgeist site or Urban Legends Reference Page to make sure it's not a hoax or untrue. Type specific details of the email into the search box and press submit. It is also a good place to check and see if an email is fraudulent. BEWARE!

How to report fraudulent SPAM
This is the Federal Trade Commission's email fraud address. Send the email with all the header information to

Here are some other suggestions on what else you can do:

  • Filter your known email into their own directory. Email programs like Eudora allow you to filter.
  • Continue to complain to your ISP who will eventually get tired of complaints about spammers and block all email from the offending domains.
  • [A Favorite] Spam marketers are highly prone to avoid tax payment via non-declaration, so the IRS wants to investigate. The IRS wants to hear from you when you receive spam. Forward the email with full headers, and the domain registration to (and cc the spammer for additional results.)
  • The North Carolina Attorny General's office can fine the company for every spam mail received under NC General Statute: 1-539.2A. Damages for computer trespass. NC Attorney General's Office --
  • Suggestion: Most people won't advocate this, but you may want to cc: the domain contacts when forwarding to AG offices and the IRS. A lot of that spam suddenly stops; on occasion, one person claims to have received an apology from someone at the spammer.

Disposible email addresses for Stopping spam
Here are some sites where you can get desposible email addresses.

Stop people from harvesting your email from the web
People have written programs which surf the web and harvest email addresses. This is particularly annoying because it ends up stopping people from putting their contact information on the web. If you have a web site, or if you post your email address to forums or newsgroups, someone may have harvested your email address. One trick that people use to foil these email harvesting programs, is that they will modify their email address and leave instructions on how to fix it. For instance, someone will say:

"email me at (please replace "nospam" with "eric" in that email address.)"

That technique is a bit cumbersome, still, people use it because it works.

Personally, I recommend setting up an account at Spamgourmet and leaving those email addresses on forums or newsgroups. Also, if you have a web site with mailto links, you might want to try this Javascript trick for stopping email harvesting programs from grabbing your email off of your web site.

Here's another blog post about the effectiveness or various spam fighting ways of displaying email address on a web page

CounterExploitation -- Fighting Back Against Email Harvest Bots
What if, instead of YOUR email address, the harvester program finds hundreds and hundreds of completely bogus, invalid email addresses? Toxic Waste Dump is a program that allows you to create virtually an infinite number of bogus email addresses on bogus web pages pages (limited essentially by the amount of space you want to use for them in your Web account!)

Articles on SPAM
SPAM filtering strategies Paul Grahm's excellent article on how it should work
SPAM Filter Software that you Install
You may want to avoid spam filters that you install because they will obviously only work on the computer that you install them on, and instead you might look for hosted applications or email services that install filters at the server level.

Spam filter service for ISPs

Spamex -- a service -- shrinkwrap

About This Page
SPAM degrades the value of email. I intend on providing continued maintainanance to this page. Please let me know if anything on this page is misleading or needs updating or additions.

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