Spam...Junk Email & Texts

What is spam? 
It is annoying commercial electronic mail and text messages sent, often in bulk, to consumers without the consumer's prior request or consent. The goal of spam is to catch your eye.

Often spam is promoting get rich quick schemes and questionable products. Common scams are chain letters; work at home schemes, weight loss potions, credit repair offers, advance fee loans, vacation offers, and adult entertainment.

Another common problem is "phishing," where the spammers are trying to get personal information from you.

Why do I get spam? 
For the same reason you get junk mail through the Postal Service - people are trying to sell you things. Email is cheaper to send, so you get even more of it! Spam mailing lists are crated in a variety of ways, including scanning discussion groups, buying or stealing Internet mailing lists, searching the Web for addresses, and even just guessing email addresses at random. If you use email, you will likely get spam.

Is it spam?
If you asked for it, it is not spam. For example, if you opt to receive emails from an online retailer, then those emails are not "spam" - at least not until you ask the retailer to stop emailing you.

Friends do not usually send spam. What if a friend forwards email and asks you to send it to 10 other people? Ask them not to send you those emails.

Spam fighting tips
  • Get a spam filter. Many Internet Service Providers offer spam filters. You can usually activate one with a phone call to your provider or by updating your settings. However, not every spam filter is perfect. The best filters still mark some spam as legitimate messages, and accidentally mark some legitimate messages as spam.
  • Never reply directly to spam. A reply, even requesting to be deleted or removed from a mailing list, verifies to the spammer that your email address is active. You may end up getting even more spam.
  • Do not open your spam. Some spam messages are programmed to notify the sender when the email has been opened. Then, spammers know your email address is valid and active. Additionally, if you open up an email you risk exposing your computer to a virus. Delete spam without opening it.
  • Do not post your email address on a website or in a newsgroup. Spammers use email robots called mailbots to collect addresses from newsgroups and the Web.
  • Confuse spammers by using two email accounts. Give your primary account to friends, family, and colleagues. Use the other account (you can get a free email address that is accessible online) for mailing lists, shopping, newsgroups, or Web forms.
  • Check a website's privacy policy before giving your email address. Most often you can find a link to the company's privacy policy, which is usually located at the bottom of the web page. If you are still confused about their policy, email and ask:
    • How does the company use the information you share with them?
    • How do they protect children's privacy?
    • Do they share information with a third party?
    • How do I access the information to change or delete it from the company's database?
    • How do I remove my information from email, phone, and postal mailing lists?
  • Screen spam. You can program your email to filter out messages that have subject lines in all caps, a dollar sign or exclamation points, words like "unsubscribe," "X-priority," "adv," "bulk email," or "make money fast" in the subject lines. Most filters let you select people or words to always allow through.
  • Be skeptical of commercial email. Do not believe promises from strangers. Greet money making opportunities with skepticism. Most of the time, these are old scams delivered through the newest technology.
  • Check out the Direct Marketing Associaton. This site allows your to "opt out" of national email lists, which will limit the amount of unsolicited emails you receive.
Complaint about spam
Send a copy of the unwanted or deceptive message to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC pursues law enforcement actions against people who send deceptive spam.

Wen you complain, it is important to include the full email header. The information in the header makes it possible for consumer protection agencies to follow up on your complaint.

  • Finding the header. Search the help function of your email program with the term "view header." If you are unable to find information in the program's help file, you may want to search the Internet for the term "header" along with your email program.
Send a copy of the spam to your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Often the email address is: or

This lets them know about the spam problem and helps them to stop it. Make sure to include a copy of the spam, along with the full email header. Start at the top of the message that you are complaining about spam.

You also may want to complaint to the sender's ISP because most ISPs want to cut off spammers who abuse their system.

Or you can go to This website offers a free spam-reporting service that will automatically detect the illegitimate headers and send a form complaint to the proper authorities.

More help
To learn more about or to get help fighting spam, check the following websites:

For information on current spam laws within the United States:

(Taken from Bureau of Consumer Protection Consumer Facts "Spam...junk email & texts.")