How I Avoid Spam & Email Fraud

My first email address was with Compuserve, and I think I got it sometime back in 1993 or 1994. I’m pretty sure it was sometime before Jerry Garcia died (August 9, 2005) because I have a snapshot in my mind of what my life was like at that moment and I know I was using the web for communication by then.

Back then spam was pretty much unheard of. In fact, you were lucky if you got email because just not that many people had email addresses back then. I remember feeling fortunate that my close family members did have email in those days, since they did not live nearby.

Well things have changed. I now get close to 100 email messages a day.

And I now have more than 10 email addresses, most which I check every day. I have email addresses for work, for friends, for specific things I do and for specific companies I do business with.

For example, I have a PayPal account and I have an email address just so PayPal can send me email (I give it to no one else, ever). This way I can easily keep track of which emails that appear to be coming from PayPal have a chance of being real. PayPal client’s are the target of many scams designed to get them to divulge their login information (these are called Phishing scams, see below for more info), so I am wary of any emails I get from PayPal. I do something similar with my banks and credit card companies, I use email addresses that only they know, and I do not use those addresses for anything else.

One of the email addresses I have is for spam. I give it to almost every organization that I do business with. I give it to online vendors and environmental groups and to people I don’t know. I give it to anyone likely to sell my email address. And also to anyone who is vulnerable to having a disgruntled employee rip off their database and sell it. Basically if they HAVE a database of email addresses then I give them my spam email address.

And so far this scheme is working pretty well. I get virtually no spam to the email addresses that I use for my family, friends and my own work. And my spam account gets, I don’t know, some hundreds of spam messages a week, nearly all of which are caught and deleted automatically by a spam filter. And this way I am keeping close tabs on my banks as well.

More Reading on Phishing:
Wikipedia Definition of Phishing
Anti-Phishing Working Group

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