They say that, in life, there are two things that are certain
death and taxes. I have an addendum of my own. I say that, in life,
there are three things that are certain death, taxes and junk
I don’t know about you, but I have a feeling you probably agree
with me I am so tired of junk e-mail! Offers for Viagra,
get-rich-quick-schemes and porn flood my e-mailbox on a daily
basis. It is driving me up the wall, and it’s a waste of my time,
energies and money.
Money? Yes, money. I figure I spend an average of at least 10
minutes per day getting rid of my junk e-mail, which is a lot
longer than it takes me to wade through the junk mail that arrives
via Uncle Sam.
Let’s say that you have five people in your kitchen and bath
firm, and each of them spends 10 minutes per day getting rid of
their junk e-mail (otherwise known as “spam”). That comes to 50
minutes per day wasted due to your company getting rid of spam. Per
week, it equals four hours and 10 minutes. Per year, you have a
whopping total of just over 218 hours, which, broken down by a
40-hour work week, means that you are basically paying one person
in your company to work for five weeks per year to get rid of your
company’s junk e-mail.
I’d rather spend those five weeks on a ski vacation.
The bad news is that this is not the only way the whole spam thing
is costing you money. Spam actually increases the amount it costs
you to connect to the Internet. Unlike with junk mail that arrives
in your snail mailbox, there is very little overhead cost for the
spammer. Yet, the junk e-mail sent by these guys takes up the space
of the Internet Service Providers (ISPs)which you use to access the
Internetcausing them an increased workloadwhich necessitates larger
servers, technical problems and the need to employ people in their
company to go after these guys when their customers report
How big of a problem has spam become? Even the government is
involved! They consider junk e-mail a serious problem. Why? Because
it shakes consumer confidence in the Internet and makes offers that
are just too good to be true.
I spoke with Brian Huseman, a staff attorney with the Federal
Trade Commission, the government agency tackling the spam problem.
He told me that the FTC has set up an e-mailbox you can send your
spam to, in order to help bust these guys (firstname.lastname@example.org).
According to Huseman, the FTC receives 50,000 unsolicited
commercial e-mails PER DAY through email@example.com! Since the
organization set up that e-mailbox in 1998, the FTC has received
over 16-1/2 million pieces of junk e-mail forwarded to it by
consumers assisting in the “spam battle.”
At this point, you’re probably wondering how these spammers get
your e-mail address(es), and just how you can combat spam.
Spammers gather e-mail addresses in a number of ways. Buying
e-mail lists from companies is a popular way spammers gather “their
victims,” as well as searching out e-mail addresses from
registering agencies. A registering agency is where you go to sign
up for your dotcom address. The spammers know that these addresses
are normally kept up to date for use as contact info. Hence, that
makes them a good source.
Also, there are spidering programs that go through Web sites and
scrape e-mail addresses from these in order to build their lists.
Anytime, anywhere there is a public listing of e-mail addresses,
spammers “harvest” this information to build their lists. There are
even programs they build to come up with common e-mail addresses,
in order to send you junk mail. For example, they can pretty much
bank on the fact that there is a MaryA@aol.com, a MaryB@aol.com, a
MaryC@aol.com and so on. These addresses are likely to receive a
greater amount of junk e-mail than an e-mail address like
MryCa@aol.com. There are even programs in which they can harvest
e-mail addresses around your personal and business interests.
When you receive spam, what can you do to combat it?
1. As I mentioned before, forward your junk e-mail to the FTC.
Again, its e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. The “uce” stands for
unsolicited commercial e-mail. Huseman told me that the commission
set up the e-mail address before it had permission from Hormel to
use their trademarked “Spam!”
2. If it is a free e-mail account from a large company, such as
hotmail.com, forward the suspected spam to the postmaster of that
company, ie: email@example.com. These larger companies are
more likely to be able to track down the spammers and perhaps even
block them from sending more spam to you and others using
3. The debate over “REMOVE.” With many junk e-mails, you are
given the option of going to the bottom of the junk e-mail message
and clicking on “REMOVE” or “Remove my e-mail address from this
mailing list.” Huseman told me that the FTC did a “Remove”
It is believed by many that if you click on “Remove me,” this just
confirms to the spammer that your e-mail address is hot and you
are, in fact, receiving and paying attention to their e-mail.
Huseman said that the FTC tested 215 spam e-mail “Removes.” When
the “Remove” at the bottom of the e-mail was clicked during this
“test,” it was found that 63% of the remove links were actually
dead. That means that your request to unsubscribe was not able to
be sent through. When that happens, you have reason to send that
spam to firstname.lastname@example.org, as it violates the Federal Trade Commission
Act. The FTC “Remove Me Surfers” reported to the FTC that they did
not receive additional spam (from that spammer) when their request
was put through to be removed from the spammer’s list.
Believe me, this article is just brushing the surface of this
subject. Unfortunately, there is so much to cover. While in this
article we discussed how to combat spam, in my next article, I am
going to give you information about how to avoid getting on the
spammers’ lists to begin with, as well as provide you with the
names and Web sites of some companies that assist in filtering spam
out of our e-mailboxes.