12 Ways to Reduce Spam on Your Computer & Cell Phone....

@LadyMarissa (12160)
United States
June 18, 2009 1:00pm CST
1) Fight phony messages with disposable addresses It may seen daunting, but a great way to limit spam is to set up multiple e-mail addresses, each one for a different purpose. Fortunately, most e-mail clients (Outlook, Entourage, Apple Mail) support multiple accounts, so it won't be too hard to set up. We suggest creating a personal account that you only use for contacting close friends and family members. For other online activities like paying bills or your bank account, create a separate account. It's well worth the effort of setting up another address (we suggest using a free e-mail service like Gmail, AOL Mail, or Yahoo!) for Web purchases, newsletters, subscriptions, and registering for cool new Web services. If one account is compromised, and the little spam buggers start sneaking through, drop it and open another. 2) Beware the pesky check mark When signing up or registering for anything on the Web, always look for the little check boxes at the bottom of the page. Sites typically ask if you'd like to register for updates or discounts, and the boxes tend to be checked by default. Uncheck them to opt out of third-party mailing lists. Also, look for the company's privacy policy to determine whether they share e-mail addresses and other information with third parties. If you don't see a privacy statement, think twice about whether you really want to use that site. 3) Use security software to block the bad stuff This one is important, even if you don't have a raging spam problem. Other than regularly backing up your files (something every computer user should do), you should always install security software on your computer. These apps protect you not only from spam, but also from viruses and other nasty computer intruders. (Not all packages include spam protection, so be sure to check out their feature lists.) Many free and pay options exist, but just make sure to keep your software up-to-date. Some popular services that offer frequent updates are McAfee Internet Security 2009 ($49) and Norton 360 ($80). If you're using the AOL Client and are an AOL member, you can get free protection from McAfee (discounts are available for non-members). 4) Set up a filter to snag spam The last line of defense is your e-mail client's built-in spam filter. Whether you're using online services like Gmail and AOL Mail or pulling your e-mail into a desktop app like Thunderbird, you've probably got a built-in spam filter automatically scanning and filtering your incoming e-mail for spam. It's important to alert service providers to junk that still gets through so they can block the messages in the future. Do your part and mark junk mail as spam if you have the option. There are also Web-based spam filters that improve as more people use the software. If you use Microsoft Outlook or Thunderbird on a PC, Spam Fighter is an effective and popular choice (download a free trial here before deciding if it's worth $29), and you can also check out Cactus Spam Filter (PC only), Ella for Spam Control (PC only), and SpamSieve (Mac only). 5) Complicate your e-mail to confuse the spammers Sure, it may seem picky, but if you really want to cut down on inbox spam as much as possible, don't use your name or simple words when creating your e-mail address. Why? Automated spamming software can easily generate simple addresses based on basic name and word combinations. Make the address as long as you can remember, use numbers and symbols, and try to start it with a letter from the end of the alphabet. According to a British researcher, people who have an e-mail address beginning with an early letter, like 'a' or 'b,' receive 15-percent more spam than those that start with a late letter, such as 'x,' 'y,' or 'z.' 6) Join the National Do Not Call Registry To help cut down on phone spam, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) suggests joining the National Do Not Call Registry to opt out of telemarketing calls, the bane of dinnertime. Joining will keep those telemarketers from distributing your number and stop companies who may want to flood your cell phone with text messages. If you're still getting sales calls and spam after 31 days, you can file a complaint against the offending parties. 7) Be stingy with your digits If you want to avoid junk text messages clogging your cell phone's inbox, never hand out your number (online or in real life) unless you are certain whom you're giving it to. Recently, for example, one of those annoying Facebook quizzes asked participants for their phone numbers so it could send the results by text message. Instead, scammers used the phone numbers to bill users for taking the quiz. 8) Bugged by spam texts? Check your account options Having lived through the golden age of texting (i.e. the spam-free days), we knew it was inevitable that our mobile inboxes would be hit with spam eventually. While e-mail apps let you set up spam filters, no such thing exists yet for your phone. Fortunately, you've got some options. An AT&T representative told the New York Times that most text message spam comes from the Web, which means there is a workaround: block all text messages coming from the Internet (you'll still be able to receive messages from other phones). It's not as hard as it sounds; some carriers let you block these types of messages, while others offer basic forms of spam filtering. Your carrier's Web site will have more on adjusting your settings, and we've included links to the major ones below: * AT&T * Verizon * Sprint * T-Mobile 9) Take your fight to Washington Under the CAN-SPAM legislation of 2003, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) implemented rules prohibiting the sending of unwanted "commercial messages" to wireless devices. If you receive one of those, you can file a complaint for free at the FCC Web site. If prosecuted, the perps can be fined up to $11,000 just for the sending part -- and even more monetary penalties apply if they're stealing or generating e-mail addresses and phone numbers. 10) Google it Alright, this one is easy. Just Google your e-mail address, and if it pops up in search results, you've probably found at least one reason why you're getting more spam than usual. If your e-mail address is showing up in blogs or Web sites you've joined, check the site's preferences to see if you can hide or remove your address. Otherwise, if you're bogged down in spam, it may be time for a new address... 11) Hide from the junk by disguising your address If you enjoy chatting it up on message boards or in various Web groups, be careful with your information when you post. Most services will ask for an e-mail address before allowing a user to comment, and sometimes that address will be included in the message you post, making your address more public on the Web than you might like it to be. So, if the site offers it, check the box asking if you'd like to conceal your information. If it doesn't give you that option, and your address is already posted, go back and change how your address is written. It's a little unorthodox, but it works. Say your address is 'yourname@example.com.' You could put in 'yourname AT example DOT com.' That way, spam software that automatically extracts e-mail addresses off the Web won't get your real address, but if your message board chums want to send you a private message, they can easily recognize and add the '@' and the '.' portion. 12) What not to do Above all, when it comes to keeping spam out of your inbox, common sense is the order of the day. Here's what not to do: * Don't open suspicious messages from e-mail address you don't recognize or with titles that are too good to be true (something like, "You've Just Won 10-Bazillion Dollar!" should set off a mental alarm) * If (for some reason) you accidentally opened the message, don't respond, even if the message simply requests you remove yourself from a mailing list by clicking on a link. * Which brings up another point: Blindly clicking links in an e- mail is a great way to get caught by a phishing scam. If you get a message from your bank, for example, don't click on the link in the e- mail. Call the bank or visit its site directly.
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