Getting Rid of Junk E-Mail

The average person gets 500 pieces of junk e-mail every year. If you're getting sick of hitting the delete button, there is something you can do about all that spam.

Tiffany Shlain, Internet expert and founder of the Webby Awards, looks at spam as part of Good Morning America's new series, "What Really Bugs Me."

In our new series, we'll look at the issues that really get under your skin. In our first installment, Shlain offers some solutions to the spam problem that bugs e-mail users around the world.

April Fools!

Every day is April Fool's Day for companies using junk e-mail, says Shlain.

Junk e-mailers often trick people into thinking their e-mail is important by enticing people with interesting titles in the subject line, or by using "RE:" in the subject line which leads you to believe that they are responding to your e-mail.

Whether it's a company or a con man that wants to reach you, e-mail provides an easy way to do it.

Professional spammers get your name off lists or by "screen-scraping" addresses off Web sites.

Shlain says a lot of people don't know how to go about getting off those annoying e-mail lists. Responding to the e-mailer's "take me off your list" option doesn't always do the trick. In fact, says Shlain, it confirms that you are a real person who is receiving their e-mails.

Finding a Filter

Shlain says the first step to getting rid of unwanted e-mail is searching out a filter. She suggests going to your favorite search engine and typing in "E-mail Filter" and the name of your e-mail program. Once you do that, you'll get free step by step instructions on how to work with your filter.

If that doesn't do the job to your satisfaction, you can turn to software that's built to help label which e-mails are ads and which are personal.

A product called Spam Assassin (spamassassin.taint.org) has received the best reviews, according to Shlain. It labels incoming e-mails as ads. Another one, Spam Cop (spamcop.net), is a mixture of filtering tools and guides to reporting spam. It acts as an electronic doorman as well, letting you know when an unknown guest is e-mailing you.

To find out more about your e-mail rights, go to www.cauce.org.

Tiffany Shlain, Good Morning America's Internet expert, is founder of the Webby Awards.

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