Spam FAQs

What is spam?

"Spam" is the flooding of the Internet with many copies of the same message, in an attempt to force the message on people who would not otherwise choose to receive it. Most spam is commercial advertising, often for dubious products, get-rich-quick schemes, or quasi-legal services. A message written for, and mailed to, one person who is known to the sender is not Spam, and a reply to an e-mail is not Spam, unless the "reply" repeats endlessly. Spam costs the sender very little to send -- most of the costs are paid for by the recipient or the carriers rather than by the sender.

Spam e-mailers have become a disconnected part of the Internet, with their own host computers, methods, and politics. In addition to wasting people's time with unwanted e-mail, Spam also eats up a lot of network bandwidth and although it is not illegal, some efforts are underway to regulate it.

How can I stop spam?

Unfortunately, you can't. But you can slow it down by filtering your email to a "junk mail folder" or to the "recycling bin".

How do they get my address?

Numerous ways, including reselling of email addresses by other spammers, random guessing of addresses, and harvesting of e-mail addresses posted in Usenet news forums, bulletin boards, and web pages.

Should I click unsubscribe when I get a spam message?

No, it's best to delete messages. Clicking an unsubscribe link may confirm to the spammer that your e-mail address is working and is being used actively. Such 'live' e-mail addresses are valuable and can be resold to other spammers, resulting in even more Spam sent to you.

What should I do with Spam messages?

We recommend you delete the message and empty your deleted items folder periodically to reclaim space consumed by deleted messages.

Is Spam illegal?

No it isn't. There are efforts at the national level to outlaw Spam but currently no law prohibits it.

Do's and Don’ts

Do check that you have anti-virus protection. The College uses Sophos Antivirus and it should be installed on all College owned computers and laptops. If you notice otherwise, let us know.

Do update your virus protection. Having virus protection that is not updated is only marginally better than not having it at all. Most of the College owned computers are updated automatically. If you believe that your computer is not being updated, please let us know.

Do clear the check mark that says, "Don't send me any email" when you sign up at websites. It is also good to have a spare email account or two just to use for signing up for things on the Internet. Hotmail and Yahoo are among many sites that provide free email. These accounts can be considered throwaway accounts when they start getting too much Spam.

Don’t give out your e-mail address to unfamiliar or unknown recipients.

Don’t make lists of e-mail addresses, and if you do, do not e-mail the list. This is a general procedure, particularly among the moderately inexperienced.

  • It occurs like this - You obtain an interesting article and you instantaneously want to mail it to all your contacts – You do this by including all the addresses in a single posting. The dilemma? All recipients get a copy of all the addresses. Then one of your contacts sends it to all their friends the same way. The address list becomes substantial, and lastly it falls into the hands of someone in the Spam industry.
  • An alternative, mail a separate copy to each of your contacts. The suggestion is there should never be more than one addressee on an email.

Don’t open attachments from strangers or open attachments that you were not expecting, even from people you know.

Don’t follow the link to unsubscribe from future messages when you receive Spam. This is almost certainly a ploy to verify, to the spammer, that they have found an active email account.

Don’t respond to a Spam e-mail. For a spammer, one "hit" among thousands of mailings is enough to justify the practice. Instead, if you want a product that is advertised in Spam e-mail, go to a website that also carries the product, inquire there, and tell them you do not approve of Spam methods and will not patronize a company that uses spammers.

Don’t respond to the Spam e-mail's instructions to reply with the word "remove." This is just a trick to get you to react to the e-mail -- it alerts the sender that a human is at your address, which greatly increases its value. If you reply, your address is placed on more lists and you receive more Spam.

Don’t sign up with sites that promise to remove your name from Spam lists. These sites are of two kinds: (1) sincere, and (2) Spam address collectors. The first kind of site is ignored (or exploited) by the spammers, the second is owned by them -- in both cases your address is recorded and valued more highly because you have just identified it as read by a human.

Doing away with Spam

Use your e-mail application's filtering features. Most e-mail applications allow you to block specific messages. When an offending e-mail comes in, set the filter to block further incoming mails from that sender. Don't be fooled by phrases such as "to be removed from this list, click here." Spammers use these types of catch phrases to entice users to respond to the e-mails. The spammers may or may not remove your e-mail from their list. Either way you have told the spammer that your email address is valid and reaches a real person. They know this because you responded and asked them to remove you from the list. This can actually be more valuable to the spammers because they can now sell your address to another spammer with the assurance that the email address is legitimate. So you may have been removed from one list, but there's a good chance that you will end up on another.

What is filtering?

Filtering allows you to easily sort through incoming messages and separate them into other folders based on content, such as the sender and subject of the message. Most email clients support the creation of filters.

This page developed and maintained by the Information Technology Department. Send comments and suggestions to [email protected] .

Last Updated: 12/21/16