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Spam

SPAM, it affects all of us at some point.

A lot of people ask why? There are a number of reasons you might receive SPAM it could be advertising, phishing or the spreading of malware.

Phishing is where people send emails pretending to be from reputable companies or organisations to try and get you to disclose personal information such as usernames, passwords and credit card numbers. This is discussed in more detail below.

Malware is malicious software, which can include code or scripts; these can be designed to interfere with the performance of your PCs, laptops, phones and tablets. Malware can also be used to gather data, usernames and passwords etc from the effected devises and transfer them to another devise. Another use for it is it can be used to take personal files and images, which are then held at ransom.

Some SPAM can even make it through strict email filters, and sometimes by making the settings too strict you run the risk of the filters deleting messages that you really do want to receive.

How do they the spammers get your email address?

1. Publically available email addresses

There are tools available to scan the Internet and collect email addresses. If your email address is listed publically online spammers will find it. This is why some websites only have contact forms rather than listing their email addresses. It is also a good idea to list a more generic company email address rather than your personal ones on online directories etc.

2. Guessing email accounts

Spammers are also known to use a tool that mass auto generates popular user names and then these are then added to common domain names, such as Yahoo, Hotmail etc. For example a common email address may start with info@. They are also likely to try with common first names.

3. Hackers

Hackers can also steal email addresses by accessing mailboxes, contacts and databases.

4. Data lists

Data lists can be bought that contain individual’s contact information, including their email addresses, this can be done legally or illegally.

What to watch out for and what action should you take

1. There are a number of scammers that pretend to be from the Post Office, eBay, PayPal, the police, HMRC or your bank. If the email is not expected or is about something that you know nothing about contact them directly. Do not use the number on the email or reply to it, instead get if from a reliable source. If it is legitimate there will be a record of it and they will be able to help you.

If by just looking at the email topic you can see that it is SPAM, try not to open the email. If you do open the email in error, do not click on any links.

2. If you receive a marketing email that you do not think you have subscribed to, think carefully before you click on the unsubscribe button. Quite often by doing this you are actually telling the spammer that the address is active.

3. Mark the email as spam/junk and move it into your junk folder. You can also create rules within your email client that sends emails from certain senders or of certain topics into your junk box, or you can even choose for them to be auto deleted.

4. When signing up or purchasing things both on or offline it is worth checking their privacy policy as some companies share or sell the data they have for you.

If you are still experiencing problems with spam it may be worth considering using a third party spam prevention service to further help filter and/or block spam. However, if choosing to go down this route you will have to keep an eye on things as sometimes if the filters are too strict you may miss out on legitimate emails.

And remember, 9 times out of 10 if you think it’s spam – it is!

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