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How to Get Less Spam in Your Email

Spam email can be annoying. Worse, it can include scammy offers that can cost you time and money. Here are some things you can do to reduce the amount of spam in your inbox:

Use an Email Filter

Check your email account to see if it has a tool to filter out potential spam or to funnel spam into a junk email folder. Many popular email providers (like Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo) have strong spam filters on by default.

But there are some things you can do to make them work even better. For example, if you see any spam that makes it through to your Inbox, be sure to mark is as Spam or Junk. You can usually also block specific email addresses or email domains (the part of the address after the @). Remember that the filter isn’t perfect, so you’ll also want to occasionally check your Spam or Junk folders to make sure any legit, non-spam email didn’t end up in there.

Limit Your Exposure

You might decide to use two email addresses — one for personal messages and one for shopping, newsletters, coupons, and other services. If you want to be able to see all your emails in one place, you can usually set up email forwarding to your primary email account. You can set it up to come into a separate folder or your main Inbox. That way, if the second email address starts getting spam, you can shut off the forwarding without affecting your permanent address.

Don’t Display Your Email Address in Public

Publishing your email address on the web is an easy way for spammers to add you to their lists. This includes social media sites and online membership directories. Spammers scan such websites to harvest email addresses.

Limit Sharing Your Email Address in Webforms

When a website asks for your email address, pause and consider whether you want to share this information. Different websites handle your privacy differently. Some will share or sell your information, while others will only use it for limited reasons. You can also check the privacy policy to see how the company may share your contact information, but it might be hard to tell exactly how it’s shared.

Unsubscribe from Unwanted Emails

Many popular email providers have features that let you unsubscribe from email lists. They may show up as a banner or as a button when you open the email. To find out what options your email provider has, search “[your email provider name] + how to unsubscribe from unwanted emails” on your favorite search engine. This lets you avoid clicking on unknown links, which can lead to a phishing attack.

How Not to Be a Spam Bot

Hackers and spammers troll the internet looking for computers, phones, tablets and other connected devices that aren’t protected by up-to-date security software. When they find unprotected devices, they try to install hidden software — called malware — that lets them control the devices remotely.

Many thousands of these devices linked together make up a “botnet” — a network used by spammers to send millions of emails at once. Millions of computers, phones, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, like smart cameras or voice assistants, can be part of botnets. In fact, most spam is sent this way.

You don’t want spammers to use your device. It can cause a lot of issues, from slow performance, legal trouble if attacks are traced to you and stolen personal information that can be used for identity theft.

Here’s how to reduce the chances that your device will become part of a botnet:

Keep your device’s security updated

To be secure and effective, the software that comes with your device needs occasional updates. Whether you have a new or existing device, visit the manufacturer’s website to see if there’s a newer version of the software to download. Register your device with the manufacturer or sign up to get updates to keep the software current. Set your updates to download automatically and, if possible, set up your device to automatically update.

Change Your Preset Passwords

Your device might have a standard default password from the manufacturer. Hackers can find the default passwords easily, so change yours to something more complex and secure.

Detect and Get Rid of Malware

It can be hard to tell if a spammer installed malware on your computer, but there are some warning signs. If your computer was hacked or infected by a virus, take it offline right away. Then take steps to remove the malware and report it to the FTC.

Report Spam

If you get an unwanted email, there are two ways to report it.

  1. Forward unwanted or deceptive messages to:
    • your email provider (like Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo). Most email services include buttons to mark messages as junk mail or report spam.
    • the sender’s email provider if you can tell who it is. Most email providers and ISPs want to cut off spammers who abuse their systems. Again, make sure to include the entire spam email and say that you're complaining about spam.
  2. You can also report it to the FTC at
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