The Best way to Deal with Spam?

Dennis Faas's picture

Is spam on the rise or have spammers found a new way to become extra-annoying?

Infopackets Reader Max E. writes:

" Thanks again for the great web site and excellent help! My problem today is with Spam (unsolicited bulk email). How can I send something back to the spammers? Every time I log on I get some 50 to 90 spams and it wastes my time having to deal with these annoying messages. I have tried to send the spammers an email asking them to remove me from the list, but my messages always come back undeliverable. Please help! "

My response:

This is the fourth complaint this week I've received about spam. Based on my own experience, the latest fad for spammers is to send 3 different email advertisements in one mailing [typically on the same topic] in hopes of appealing to a wider audience. As if one message wasn't enough! This may account for what seems to be a sudden rise in spam.

The good news is that there is a way to get back at spammers. The best way to do this is to report your spam messages to a blacklist service (such as SpamCop). This effectively shuts down the spammer (although, indirectly) on a large scale. I'll talk more about Blacklists and SpamCop further down the page.

As for replying to spammer's emails: don't waste your time. Most spammers fake their sending domains so it usually bounces. Also: I don't recommend clicking on a link in a spammy-looking email because the links almost always contain a tracking mechanism which tells the spammer that your email address is valid. Once he finds that out, he'll keep you on his list forever and pass the good news on to his spam-buddies.

Short and Long Term Solutions to Block Spam

Change your email address: If you're having major issues with spam and you don't care about your current email address, then one of the easiest ways to put an end to the spam messages -- at least temporarily -- is to open up a new email account (and dump the old one). Unfortunately, this is usually a short term solution because spammers always seem to have a new trick up their sleeves when it comes to harvesting your email address [dictionary attacks are a good example].

Use a white-list service: If you don't want to change your email address, one of the most effective ways to block spam is to use a white-list service. For example: if I sent John Doe a message, an email message would appear in my inbox (usually instantly) saying that John Doe is using some type of white-list service and that need to submit a special code or to click on a link to continue. Using this method: a) *my* email address is verified to exist (I.E.: I am not a spammer); b) my message will get through to John Doe; and c) my email address is added to John Doe's white list so I can easily send him email without interruption in the future. If I was a spammer, then I wouldn't receive the verification email; therefore, the spam email would never make it to the inbox.

The problem with using a white-list service is that that: a) it's annoying to have to verify yourself every time you send someone an email [problematic for me -- especially since I'm in contact with many new people all the time]; b) this solution prevents spam from getting to your inbox, but isn't effective in deterring spammers; and c) it can be difficult to manage a white-list -- especially if you've subscribed your email address to many email newsletters / email services.

Use an Inbox Cleaner with DNS Blacklist Support: Because it's important to keep my existing email address, and because I've subscribed to a number of automated services, I tend to not to use white-listing services. Instead, I opt to use an Inbox Cleaner. My personal favorite Inbox Cleaner is MailWasher Pro, and it has been extremely effective tool in the fight against spam and email viruses. Like many Inbox Cleaners, MailWasher Pro works by pre-screening all my emails before they are actually downloaded onto my computer. Once the message headers are downloaded, MailWasher is then able to compare each email using heuristics (pre-defined mail rules) and DNS Blacklists (such as SpamCop). DNS Blacklists are not always an option in many Inbox Cleaners, so you have to be sure to choose one that does.

Side note: DNS stands for "Domain Name Service". A "domain" is simply another word for "web site"; since most web sites resolve their name to an IP address [I.E.: resolves to], a DNS Blacklist usually implies blocking both a domain name and an IP address of a computer connected to the Internet (usually the computer the spammer is abusing to send out his emails). A DNS Blacklist is especially useful in the war against spam because it indirectly shuts down the spammer on a wide scale; if a spammer's web site address exists in the DNS blacklist (through SpamCop, for example), many organizations -- and especially Internet Service Providers -- will refuse to receive email from the blacklisted site.

MailWasher Pro makes using SpamCop Extremely Easy

One of the most important aspects that sets MailWasher Pro from other Inbox Cleaners is the fact that it can automate the submission of my spam directly to SpamCop. Without MailWasher Pro, I'd have to submit the message manually to SpamCop (this involves: viewing the message header, copying the header, logging into SpamCop, pasting the header, and submitting it -- a tedious process). Mailwasher Pro, on the other hand, makes it easy: all I need to do is click the "SpamCop" box and hit submit and it's gone! Now if you're looking for spammer retribution -- MailWasher Pro is by far the best way to do it (and believe me, blacklisting a spammer on a large scale is very satisfying)!

I reviewed MailWasher back in 2003, and highly recommend it. In fact, I've been using MailWasher Pro every day for over 3 years now. I've also compiled a newer review of MailWasher Pro (version 5) below: included is a link to download so you can give it a whirl [works great with 99.99% of all email accounts, including POP3, IMAP, Hotmail, and AOL]!

MailWasher Pro 5 Review

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