No one likes spam emails. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be any in a user’s inbox. There are ways to stop receiving marketing email spam and all kinds of other unsolicited messages via email.
But what is spam email? And how can internet users stop spam emails in a popular email service? Spam emails are the billions of messages spammers and other malicious actors send to unsuspecting internet users. Such messages usually have misleading headings such as “Sale Now” or “Get Your Coronavirus Compensation Right Now”. Internet users can stop spam through simple methods such as using a reputable email service, reporting spam, blocking spam, not unsubscribing from spam and using a disposable email address. Internet users such as employees and general surfers who cannot spend a lot of time managing spam can use anti-spam tools to get rid of unwanted sales promotions while making sure important mails don’t get marked as spam.
The steps to follow to stop spam emails are given below.
- Don’t Click a Link in a Spam Email
- Don’t Respond to a Spam Email
- Use a Different Email Address
- Unsubscribe From Mailing Lists
- Block the Spam Emails
- Utilize Email Filters
- Don’t Post Your Email Address
1. Don’t Click a Link in a Spam Email
The most simple approach to stop spam emails is to quit clicking on links in spam emails. That will at least stop more spam emails from landing in the inbox. Spam emails usually link to malicious websites and take advantage of hacking techniques such as phishing and spear-fishing.
Not clicking on links that are not verifiable either via a bank or another reputable institution (assuming the sender of the message is unknown or random), is safer.
There is also a chance that the email service has mistakenly marked a legitimate email as a spam email. Even in such cases, the best option is to simply not click on the links and check with the relevant institutions if there is a problem.
Even if the spam email link says the deal will expire in an hour or so, not clicking is the best option. This advice will protect users from all types of spam emails, including heap prescription drugs, miracle medicines and cures, interest-free loans, product shipping statuses, lotteries and scholarships.
Pro Tip:Not clicking on links in email messages also applies to the unsubscribe button. Hackers can mask malicious links as legitimate-looking unsubscribe buttons and links. If there is no certainty about the sender of the message, then do not click the unsubscribe button, either.
Carefully going through the contents of an email message helps to identify malicious links. But the most effective solution to stopping spam emails with the least effort is to not click on links.
2. Don’t Respond to a Spam Email
If the worst option while handling spam email is to click on links, responding to a spam email is a close second. Not responding to a spam email is another effective method to stop spam emails. Spam email messages have a lot of things in common. All spam messages come from unknown senders and contain links. The contents of the email message are malicious. The primary aim of such messages is to give hackers the time and the information to somehow exploit a vulnerability on the target device.
Hence, not responding to spam emails will prevent hackers from getting any sensitive information via potential exchanges. Hackers might even consider the target email address as inactive and move on to other targets. Because once a spammer group knows an email address is active and the owner of the email address will communicate, the chances of a successful hack go up. Spammers target such email addresses with even more spam.
3. Use a Different Email Address
Business and email addresses should only be given to trusted parties. Use a different email address while signing up for apps, online surveys, services, contests, updates and others. Some hacker groups pay marketing companies good money to purchase email lists or contact groups to target more individuals with spam emails.
There is a lot of risk in giving out a personal or work email when signing up for anything online. Every time an email address is given out for whatever purpose, the chances of the email address ending up in a data breach or a hack increase.
The main benefit of using different email addresses is that the personal email remains reserved for secure communication with important accounts, such as banks, hospitals, business partners and friends.
For logins and purchases online, many email services provide a new burner email address. Using a unique email address generated via burner sites can help keep the main email address away from marketing emails. Using a different email address can also help the user identify which site or service leaked the email address to marketers.
4. Unsubscribe From Mailing Lists
Unsubscribing from all unwanted email lists is a great way to stop spam email and prevent spam email from returning in the future. The easiest way for marketers to get email addresses is via social media. SEO scraping tools, online forms and purchasing history can also help marketers get email addresses. Marketers become spammers once unwanted email messages are sent en masse.
Legally, marketing companies have to provide information to the receiver on how to unsubscribe. But as mentioned before, hitting the unsubscribe option may not be the best action when the email message is definitely spam. Interacting with a spam message in any way is always a risk. The mere act of unsubscribing from a newsletter or another kind of spam email lets the spammers know the account is active, and the user will interact with the spam message. Either delete the message or mark the email message as spam using a spam filtering or blocking feature from the email service.
Note:Unsubscribing brings benefits such as future emails going right into the trash, less clutter in the main inbox and fewer chances of becoming a target of a hacking campaign and viewing inappropriate or deceiving material.
5. Block the Spam Emails
Another option is to block spam email messages. As mentioned before, simply unsubscribing from spam emails is not only ineffective but also dangerous. There are cases where blocking the spam email account is the best option. Recognize email spam filters or inspect the content of the message, click “More options” after clicking the three vertical dots beside a message in Gmail and then click on “Block.” All other reputable email services have a similar procedure for blocking spam email.
The main benefits of blocking spam email include less malware-infection potential, less phishing links and a less cluttered inbox. Many popular email services have spam filters that can automatically block spam email. But such filters are never foolproof so some manual work may be required. Manually blocking spam emails comes with advantages, such as hackers not getting any interaction from the spam message and reduction of spam email from the same group of spammers in the future.
6. Utilize Email Filters
Email filters can also stop spam emails or not even let the spam email land in an inbox.
Gmail, Microsoft Outlook, Yahoo, ProtonMail and other popular email services already have automatic email filters. In such cases, there is no need to take any action. But newer spam campaigns can get past default email filters, especially if the spam filters are not configured properly. Hence, third-party spam filtering tools can be used.
With an antivirus tool, a third-party spam filtering tool can scan emails and check for malware. If the email contains any evidence of malware or spam language, then the spam filtering tool can quarantine the malicious content. Spam filters can also block all access to the contents of the malicious message. This reduces the chances of malicious email messages infecting a target device.
Pairing the default spam filter provided by the email service with a third-party spam filter can stop even more spam emails. Even if the first spam filter misses the spam, the second filter should have no problems catching the message.
7. Don’t Post Your Email Address
Spammers have access to tools that can scrape the web to find email addresses and compile huge lists. To stop spam emails from coming through, just make a habit of not posting email addresses anywhere on the internet. Unless the website or app is reputable.
With automated tools, spammers can grab email addresses and launch spam campaigns flooding the inboxes. Spammers can also sell the email lists to other spammers or marketing companies. So a single mistake can make the inbox flooded with spam email from multiple sources and sometimes even at once.
Pro Tip:Not publishing personal or work email addresses anywhere on the internet is a surefire way of stopping spam emails. Business websites that need to contact customers via email can use tools like JotForm or Google Form to create a contact form rather than give out a work email address.
Setting information such as private email addresses to be hidden on social media websites and forums is an effective way to stop spam. The same principle can be applied while creating websites and purchasing a domain name, connecting with people on Facebook, running online ads and going through platforms like Craigslist.
The main benefit of not publishing personal or work email addresses is not giving hackers and spammers the opportunity to collect that information from forums, social media websites and comment sections. Not giving out email addresses also stops automated tools for collecting email addresses such as crawlers, spiders and scrapers.
What Is Spam Email?
Stopping spam email is one thing, but what exactly is spam email? Spam is an email message that is unsolicited, unwanted, unsafe and sent out in bulk to thousands (and sometimes millions) of users at a time.
Just because spam email is only a message doesn’t mean there is no threat. Spam email contains links to malicious websites that can steal personal information and infect the target device with more malware. So whether an email message contains information about cheap pills from online pharmacies, requests for money transfer from princes living in a foreign country, great deals on superfoods, or scholarships for engineering students, such messages are spam.
Why Do I Get Spam Emails?
For most users, spam emails reach inboxes because someone from the Contacts list has been hacked. Maybe the owner of the target device did some business with someone and that someone got hacked. As shown earlier, any time a personal or work email address is given out to any company, the risk of that email address leaking from a database increases.
Warning:Once a database leaks email addresses of past and present customers, that information lands on the dark web, where spammers purchase the information and start sending unwanted messages.
But there are many other causes of spam emails. Users who like to post content online usually end up including personal email addresses in messages, photos and videos. Spammers can use these opportunities to deploy bots that harvest email addresses on the internet. The victim’s email address will reach several spam lists. Other related causes include posting personal email addresses on social networks and blogs and while registering for services for domain names, online education, product demos and others.
Another lesser-known cause of spam email is clicking the unsubscribe button. Unsubscribing from services that one never subscribed to in the first place is questionable. When a user unsubscribes from a spam email service, spammers behind the address verify that the address is real and working.
Perhaps the least known cause of spam email is email message images loading without permission. If an email service provider loads a malicious image, the user can not only get infected but also get more spam. To verify an email address, spammers send spam emails with tracking images. Such tracking images load automatically once a user opens a spam email message. Once the images auto-load, a message is sent back to the system controlled by hackers. Hackers then know that the email address is active and likely to respond and the email address gets added to multiple spam lists. This is why some email service providers offer to block loading images automatically.
Note:One of the most common causes of spam email is the user giving out personal and work email addresses to websites and services. Not all websites safeguard user data, such as email addresses. Always make sure that the site that wants an email address is trustworthy.
How To Stop Spam Emails on iPhone?
One way to stop spam email is to mark spam emails as spam. The steps users need to take to stop email emails by marking spam as spam on iPhone are given below.
- Open the Apple Mail app.
- At the bottom of the screen of any message, there should be a flag/folder icon. Click the flag/folder icon.
- Click on “Move to Junk.” or the option that says “Junk.”
Another way to stop spam emails on iPhone devices is to configure the spam filters properly. The steps iPhone users need to take to stop spam emails via spam filters are below.
- First, open Apple Mail.
- View the junk mail filter. That can be done by going to “Preferences.”
- Hit the button that says “Junk Mail.”
- Click the option “Enable Junk Mail Filtering” (a checkmark should appear once clicked right).
- The iPhone device might bring up new options. From the list of options, pick either “Move junk mail to the Junk mailbox,” or “Mark as Junk mail but leave in my inbox” or “Perform custom actions.”
- Clicking “Perform custom actions” should bring up an advanced tab where there are options for setting up extra filters. Make sure that the exempt messages are marked correctly so that no important message ends up as junk. Apple Mail provides three exemptions. The first is if the sender of the email message is present in the Contacts app or Address Book. The second exemption is if the sender is on the Previous Recipients list. And the third exemption is if the sender has used the full name of the receiver in the message. Different users should pick different options to best keep out spam email.
Another option to stop spam email is to block spam email. The first option to stop spam email is via iPhone Contacts. The steps to follow to stop spam email via iPhone Contacts are given below.
- Find the email address of the spam email sender and check if the Contacts App has that email address. If the sender is not present in the Contacts app, create a new entry for the sender.
- Open “Settings.”
- Click on “Mail.”
- Hit the option “Threading.”
- Go to “Blocked Sender Options.”
- Hit “Blocked.”
- Click “Add new.”
- Pick the newly created contact from Step 1.
- Enable iCloud sync.
The same procedure can be followed in the Mail app. The steps to follow to stop spam email via the Mail app on iPhone are below.
- Open the Mail app.
- Go to the spam email message.
- Confirm the name of the sender.
- Click on the name.
- Tap the item “From.”
- Click on “Block This Contact.”
Similar procedures can be followed for users who are on Gmail rather than the official Mail app.
How To Stop Spam Emails on Android?
Just as with iPhone devices, Android users can also stop spam email with various methods. The most popular email service app on Android is Gmail. The steps to follow to stop spam email on Gmail in Android are given below.
- Open Gmail.
- Open the email that is marked as spam or sent by a spammer.
- Click on the three vertical dots on the right side of the screen just beside the sender’s name.
- From the drop down menu that opens up, click on “Block.”
Android phones also provide the option to mark spam as spam. The steps to take to stop spam email by marking spam as spam on Gmail on Android are below.
- Open Gmail.
- Select the spam message.
- Tap the icon that opens up the menu. In most Gmail apps, the menu icon comes as three vertical dots on the right-hand side of the screen.
- From the new menu, click on the option “Report Spam.”
Android users who use Microsoft Outlook can follow a similar set of steps to stop spam email by marking spam as spam. The steps are given below.
- Open the Outlook app.
- Log in.
- Go to “Messages.”
- Select the spam message.
- From the toolbar shown, click on “Junk.”
- Then click on “Report as Junk.”
- Then click “Report.”
- Outlook will automatically move the message to the junk folder.
Users only have to block, report or mark the message as spam. Based on how the app is designed, the spam message will either be moved to the Junk folder, deleted or marked as spam.
How Do I Notify Authorities About Scam Emails?
The steps people can take to notify scam emails are given below.
- The first option should always be to report the scam email to the local government. Go to the official website of the state consumer protection office (each state has one) and report the scam email and any potential damages there. Users can also go to the local police.
- Go to the federal agency directory available on the USA.gov website and report scam emails.
- If the scam email is related to emergencies or disasters, then users can either fill out the web complaint form on the National Center for Disaster Fraud or call the number 866-720-5721. The same helpline can be contacted for reporting coronavirus scams via email.
- Internet users can also report scam emails to third parties. For example, if the victim has paid to one of the scammers behind scam emails, then a fraud alert can be placed via major credit reporting agencies. That would block scammers from causing further financial damage to the victim.
- Scam emails that pretend to be from IRS or social security can be reported directly via the online reporting form of Social Security. Victims can also report such imposters to TIGTA (Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration) via the official treasury website or by calling the number 1-800-366-4484.
- Contacting the FTC about scam emails is another effective method to notify authorities. Users can either use the online FTC website to report an email scan or call the FTC helpline at 1-877-382-4357. If, because of the email scam, the user has become a victim of identity theft, then a separate helpline is available at 1-877-438-4338. Victims can also report via identitytheft.gov.
- Scam emails can be reported at the Internet Crime Complaint Center or IC3. The official IC3 specifically deals with online scams that originate outside the U.S. International scams that try to cause financial harm to users can also be reported via econsumer.gov.
- Another extra step to take is to file a complaint with the attorney’s general office for the specific state in which the user lives.
- If a spam email is actually using phishing techniques to cause harm, then the email can be forwarded to report phishing @ apwg. org which is the official help address of the Anti Phishing Working Group.
What Are the Best Anti-Spam Tools?
Usually, the best anti-spam tools are the ones that are already installed by email services and antivirus products by default. The best anti-spam tools are given below.
- Eset Endpoint Security.
- Malwarebytes for Teams.
- Trend Micro Smart Protection Complete Suit.