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Email Spam & Scams

Since the inception of electronic mail, users have frequently worried about rumored email scams. There are numerous horror stories describing situations where Nigerian scammers trick people out of thousands upon thousands of dollars, or where other various crooks utilize "phishing" schemes to obtain people's passwords and personal information.

Although most email users have become fairly savvy on how to avoid these disastrous scenarios, there are still some questions that people may have about email spam. To protect upstanding internet citizens from the unscrupulous criminals, here are some questions and answers on email scams.

What is Email Spam?

Spam is no longer just a canned meat product at the local grocery store! Email spam is an umbrella term that is used to describe the junk mail that most people receive in their inboxes on a daily basis. Since so many leading email clients like Gmail and Yahoo! have great spam filters, many people thankfully don't need to acknowledge the inundating amount of spam that they receive each day.

Plenty of spam is harmless junk that is simply trying to sell you something; indeed, while the product they are promoting is probably of poor quality, the pitch may in fact be genuine. Other spam is more dangerous, potentially containing email viruses that will debilitate your computer.

However, the more dangerous wire fraud and advance-fee fraud scams are also often considered to be spam. In order to be safe, it is a good idea to ignore any email that is not from a trusted individual or institution. If you see plenty of spam in your inbox on a daily basis, consider switching to a better email client.

What are Different Types of Email Spam?

While most email users fear email viruses or anything that could be potentially harmful to their computer, many do not acknowledge how dangerous email scams are. The types of different email scams are vast, and unfortunately, due to email spoofing programs, many of these scammers' email addresses are not traceable.

A very common email scam is phishing, which has existed since the early days of AOL. Fishing involves a fraudulent representative of an institution asking you for personal information like credit card numbers or passwords. Another popular type of scam is the 419 scam, also known as the advance-fee scam. This is when you are approached via email with a false business proposition. The scammer tricks you into cashing a false check, and then asks you for a portion of the funds before the bank figures out the check is forged. This leaves the scammers rich, while you are deep in the hole with your bank.

How Do I Deal with Email Spam and Scams?

Dealing with spam is fairly simple. Ensure that you are using a top notch email client with a great spam blocker. Scams, on the other hand, involve having a very clear understanding of what is or isn't legitimate. Any email that promises wealth and riches from someone who you have never met is absolutely false. This also goes for any email that asks you to wire money to a person whom you've never met. It is a good practice to be highly distrusting and rather cynical when it comes to your online endeavors. At the end of the day, email scams are prevalent, but are thankfully usually obvious enough to be easily detected.

More Resources

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CAN-SPAM Compliance - In 2004, the United States enacted a law to punish spammers who violate a set of practices. Learn more about the CAN-SPAM Act and how you can protect yourself against unsolicited messages.

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