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The Online Mom provides internet technology advice and information to help parents protect their kids, encourage responsible behavior and safely harness the power of technology in the new digital world. Social networking, photo sharing, video games, IM & texting, internet security, cyberbullying, educational resources, the latest on tech hardware, gadgets and software for kids 3-8, tweens and teens, and more.

How to reduce spam

Spam is the equivalent of junk mail – unsolicited and unwanted e-mail messages that test your patience and clog up your Inbox. While the majority of e-mails classified as spam do not contain viruses, many of them do. And links contained in spam can often lead to unsafe web sites and other harmful results.

However, spam doesn't have to be an inevitable consequence of maintaining an e-mail account. There are a few simple steps that everyone can take to reduce the amount of spam we receive. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Be stingy with your e-mail address. Don't give out your e-mail address unless it's absolutely necessary. It seems everyone has a legitimate need for your address, whether it's for an online survey or just the local hardware store. However, e-mail addresses collected in this manner are often aggregated and sold to web marketers. Before giving up your e-mail address, check for privacy policies and understand what's going to happen to it.

  • Don't respond to spam. A lot of spam is generated automatically, randomly trying various e-mail addresses for targeted domains. If you respond, even by clicking on an unsubscribe link, you will effectively be confirming your e-mail address as valid and inviting even more spam.

  • Report messages as spam. These days, most e-mail hosting services offer an option for customers to report messages as spam. Reporting spam will help the host identify the servers responsible and reject the unsolicited e-mail before it gets to you.

  • Use filters. Many e-mail programs offer filtering capabilities that allow you to block certain addresses or only accept mail from names on your contact list. This is usually done by redirecting suspicious messages to a "junk e-mail" folder. If you have a junk folder, it's a good idea to check it occasionally to make sure legitimate messages have not been incorrectly classified.

  • Disable graphics options. Many spammers use linked graphics files that can track who has opened the e-mail. Disabling HTML and viewing messages in plain text prevents that from happening.

  • Do not display your e-mail address on social networking accounts. Use the available privacy settings to make sure only friends can see your e-mail address on Facebook and other social networking sites.

  • Use multiple e-mail addresses. If you are a frequent online shopper or routinely sign-up for online offers, consider using a secondary e-mail account, so your primary account is not affected by the inevitable spam.

  • Install additional security controls. Installing third-party security software provides an additional layer of protection and helps eliminate the often harmful viruses and bugs associated with spam. Such software can also protect against ID theft, hackers, bots and various forms of malware.

  • Don't spam other people! Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Be respectful of other people's e-mail addresses and only forward mail that you are sure the recipient wants.
The Online Mom recommends Kaspersky PURE Total Security software.

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