Spam-Proof Your Cell Phone, Inbox Too

spam

Spam is the bane of computer users everywhere, accounting for more than 90 percent of e-mail. And, now, cell phones are getting spam.

There is no foolproof solution to spam, but you can banish most of it. You'll find links to software and sites mentioned on my site at www.komando.com/news.

Use a Good E-Mail Filter

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Your first line of defense is a spam filter. Filters screen incoming messages; spam is killed before it hits your inbox.

Good spam filters don't rely on sender information. Rather, they use Bayesian filters. These filters improve as you use them. I recommend a free filter like MailWasher, POPFile, Spamato, or SpamBayes.

Webmail providers usually have built-in spam filters. Make sure yours is activated. Tag spam that reaches your inbox to improve accuracy.

Choose e-mail addresses carefully

How do spammers get e-mail addresses? They buy mailing lists and harvest addresses from the Web.

You'll be surprised to learn that they also often just guess e-mail addresses. They use programs that combine simple words.

This means your e-mail address affects how much spam you get. Don't use a simple e-mail address like mary@emailprovider.com. This is easily guessed.

Instead, add numbers, underscores and other characters. Include a hobby to make the address more meaningful. For example, choose surfin.mary_63@emailprovider.com.

Watch the first letter of the e-mail address. Choose a letter that comes later in the alphabet. Addresses starting with letters at the beginning of the alphabet get more spam.

Use Disposable Addresses

Some providers offer disposable addresses. Create an address for a specific purpose. When a disposable address starts receiving spam, kill it.

You can also create multiple accounts. Use one for friends and family. Create a second account to use for online banking and the like. Don't use them for anything else.

Spam-Proofing Your Life

Create another account for signing up for services and online shopping. When you see spam, drop the address.

Exercise Caution

Not all unwanted e-mail messages come from criminals. When you sign up for anything online, be careful. You may unwittingly be registering for newsletters and updates. Look for opt-out check boxes.

Also, be stingy with your e-mail address and phone number. Never post them online without obscuring them.

Don't give them to anybody unless you know who they are. That goes for the real world as well as online. Be particularly wary of online quizzes and the like. These can lead to spam or charges on your cellular bill.

Read a site's privacy policy before providing personal information. Make sure you understand how your information will be used.

Don't Bother Unsubscribing

Many spam messages contain an unsubscribe link. Ignore this. In fact, don't even open spam messages. They can infect your computer with malware.

Clicking the unsubscribe link simply confirms that your address is active. Instead, forward spam to the Federal Communications Commission at spam@uce.gov.

Legitimate mailing lists are the exception to this rule. Use their unsubscribe links.

Protect Your Phone

Cellphone spam is relatively new. You may not be receiving any yet, but a proactive approach makes sense.

First, join the Do Not Call Registry. This will end most telemarketing calls. It will also stop companies from sending text messages to your phone. After 31 days, you can file a complaint if you're still getting messages.

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