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Do you receive lots of junk
email messages from people you don't know? It's no surprise
if you do. 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" - annoying and time consuming; others have
lost money to bogus offers that arrived in their email in-box.
Typically, an email spammer
buys a list of email addresses from a list broker, who compiles
it by "harvesting" addresses from the Internet. The
marketer then uses special software that can send hundreds of
thousands - even millions - of email messages to the addresses
at the click of a mouse.
To reduce the amount of unwanted
commercial email you receive:
Try not to display your
email address in public. That includes newsgroup postings,
chat rooms, websites or in an online service's membership
when you submit your address to a website. See if it allows
the company to sell your address. You may want to opt out
of this provision, if possible.
Read and understand the
entire form before you transmit personal information through
a website. Some web sites allow you to opt out of receiving
email from its "partners" - but you may have to
uncheck a preselected box if you want to opt out.
Decide if you want to use
two email addresses - one for personal messages and one
for newsgroups and chat rooms.
Use an email filter. Check
your email account to see if it provides a tool to filter
out potential spam or a way to channel spam into a bulk
If you receive unwanted spam
email, you can:
Report it to the Federal
Trade Commission. Send a copy of any unwanted or deceptive
messages to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want to complain about a removal link that doesn't
work or not being able to unsubcribe from a list, you can
fill out the FTC's online complaint form at www.ftc.gov.
Your complaint will be added to the FTC's Consumer Sentinel
database and made available to hundreds of law enforcement
and consumer protection agencies. Whenever you complain
about spam, it's important to include the full email header.
Send a copy of the spam
to your ISP's abuse desk. By doing this, you can let the
ISP know about the spam problem on their system and help
them stop it in the future.
Complain to the sender's
ISP. Most ISPs want to cut off spammers who abuse their
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
Consumer Sentinel, a
secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law
enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.