Spam - What It Is and What You Can Do About It!

Spam Emails and Spamming

Do you receive lots of junk email messages from people you don't know? It's no surprise if you do. According to the security software company, Kapersky, as of the end of 2012, the average amount of spam in email stood at 72.1%, with 0.02%. of all emails containing phishing attacks, and 3.4% of all emails contained malicious attachments.  However, as security software advances, spam is finally starting to decrease. 2012 saw lower spam volumes; the amount of spam fell throughout the course of the entire year. At the close of 2012, the percentage of spam settled at 72.1%, or 8.2% less than in 2011.China, the home of many cyber attacks, corporate espionage and crimninal activity, leads the world woth about 20% of all spam originating in China.  15% is home grown, orgininating right here in the US.  Following these two countries are India, Vietnam, Brazil, South Korea, Indonesia, Russia, UK and others.

Trustwave.com has an interesting page about spam, with this graphic about the breakdown of the topics of spam for a one week period. We haven't been able to validate their information, some of which appears suspect to us (e.g., the claim China is a low source of spam), and the trends vary considerably from week to week and month to month,  but this graphic fits reasonably well with our figures::

Spam by Category

According to information compiled by Commtouch Software Ltd., email spam for the first quarter of 2013 can be broken down as follows.

EMail Spam by Topic
Penny stocks 43%
Pharmacy 16%
Online Casinos 14%
Illegal job offers 12%
Dating 11%
Replica watches 1%
Phishing 1%
Degrees[17] 1%
Weight Loss 0.40%
Other  <1%

Penny stocks are know as "pump and dump stocks"  Don't buy them! Pharmacy typically refers to male enhancement, cialis, anti-depressives, etc. Online casinos are obvious.  Illegal job offers refers to "money mules", a type of money laundering.  See this page for information about money mule scams. Replica watches" are fake rolexes, typically. Phishing is attempts at identity theft, and degrees refers to online education, often at unaccredited schools. Weight loss products should be obvious to all.

But, as more people use email, marketers are increasingly using email messages to pitch their products and services. Some consumers find unsolicited commercial email - also known as "spam" (Sending junk mail electronically is called "spamming")  annoying and time consuming; others have lost money to bogus offers that arrived in their email in-box. Scams may find you via your email address. Treat unsolicited emails with the same caution you would junk mail. If you are a U.S. citizen or resident who receives a spam email that you think is deceptive, forward it to spam@uce.gov. The FTC uses the spam stored in this database to pursue law enforcement actions against people who send deceptive email.


How to protect from getting spam

  • Don't click on the "unsubscribe" links in the email if you don't recognize the sender or company sending the mail. That simply confirms your address is real to the spammer
  • Don't ever reply to spam - again, that simply confirms your address to the spammer. Never write back and ask to be taken off the list
  • Don't offer your email address to any websites that don't have a privacy policy
  • Don't publish your e-mail address on any Web site or discussion forum. If necessary, obfuscate e-mail address: for example, write an e-mail address as "myname at mycompany dot com."
  • Use a separate e-mail address (such as a free Yahoo, Hotmail or Gmail account) to sign up for newsletters, online posting, trade shows and anything you respond to on the internet. If the mailbox gets unwieldy, you can delete it or filter it more aggressively.
  • Use anti-spam software.
  • Try to filter your email - Look further down this page to see you exactly how to do this. Or your ISP might provide a filtering service or be able to tell you how to set one up yourself.
  • Don't ever buy anything from spammers.
  • Don't write to or give your email address out to clueless folks, whether they are friends or family.  Inevitably, those people will fail to use up-to-date firewalls, ant-virus, anti-spyware, and they will visit dubious scam websites.  Sooner or later, their pc will become infected, and the virus or worm will harvest all of the email addresses in their Outlook or other email client.
  • How to Stop Spam almost forever! You don't have to face an inbox full of porn, spam, scams and junk every day.  Here's how to stop it.

How to set up your own Spam filters and Spam blocking

If you are still getting spam in your inbox, despite turning standard spam filters on, like Norton Anti-Spam; there is a simple, effective free method you can use: set up your own spam filter.

Our own studies show that 95% of all spam is actually coming from a few domain extensions.  If you block these, you block most spam.  Of course, as we each block them, they will use new domains, so you will have to update your filters a few times a year.

Most spam we received in November 2014 was sent from addresses attached to the folllowing domain extansions:

  • .link
  • .in
  • .co.at
  • .mobi

See this page for more information.

What to do if you DO get spam:

  • Don't unsubscribe immediately. After a few weeks, compare the messages you want to unsubscribe from and look for common traits, such as common strings of text that you can use to block further mail.
  • Do complain to your internet service provider (ISP) and to the spammer's ISP - and remember to include the junk mail's entire header
  • Check here for a list of companies that use spam to promote their products - never purchase anything from these companies.  Send us a copy of spam and we will add the company to the list.
  • If the spammer is a US address, email your spam to the spam recycling centre at spamrecycle@ChooseYourMail.com (they will forward the message to state and federal authorities
  • Click here to see a list of spam email, with images of the actual email and their website.  You can use this to compare against the spam you receive and report them to the FTC!
  • Do set up a private email address for friends and associates and use a free web-based email address (like Yahoo or Hotmail) for any interactions you have with other websites and companies

Spam news, references and related information

This page has information about the Federal Trade Commission's recent law enforcement actions against deceptive commercial email and spammers' responsibilities under the CAN-SPAM law. In the "For Consumers" section, you'll find tips on how to reduce the amount of spam email in your in-box.


Spammers and examples of Spam


Where to report spam

Country Spam Reporting Addresses

If spam is connected to a company located in one of these countries, you should report it to the relevant address.

Australia

Belgium

Brazil

China

Denmark

  • spam@fs.dk
  • Forbruger ombudsmanden (Net-tjek). Include a short background of your complaint; and your name, address and email address. 

Germany

Hong Kong

Korea

Netherlands

Malaysia

United Kingdom

United States

California

Missouri

Virginia

 


Limiting Spam

Spam Scams

Protecting Your Personal Information

Other credible sources of information:

For More Information

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

 

 


 

For a comprehensive list of national and international agencies to report scams, see this page.