As you know, as residents of the World Wide Web we are constantly asked to reveal our email addresses when submitting registration forms, downloading digital products, signing up for newsletters, etc. Email is an effective way to transmit information, but when the bad guys find your address, your mailbox is in danger of becoming a source of enduring stress and headaches. That’s what happened to my old email address.
I created my previous email address in 2002 (and kept using it until last winter). But at that time, little did I care about the pests scuttling across the Web. I used to have a personal website for publishing random articles like game guides and computer tips. And although I never attracted many readers, swarms of email crawlers were apparently always kind enough to show pity and peruse the whole website for my contact information.
You see, I was ignorant and had published my email address as plain (hyperlink) text. That made it effortless for the dark ninjas to collect it for their master’s evil marketing purposes. Since then I started attracting torrents of spam. And after eight years I had so much trouble every day sifting through all the spam to find the legitimate emails that I had to change my email address.
Rule #1: Never publish your email address on the Web. No text, no hyperlinks, and not even images if possible as email crawlers have grown smart enough to interpret pixels. If you have a website, you should install a contact form so that you can keep your email address hidden.
You should also be careful what services you sign up for. While most (good-natured) services don’t send you promotions and newsletters without your consent, the less sophisticated ones can turn out spammy. Some websites even sign you up for their newsletter without ever asking you, and try to make unsubscribing a laborious (if not impossible) task.
To guard against illegitimate services it’s useful to have a secondary email address just for these “shady” websites. If you’re like me and don’t like checking multiple email addresses individually, you can forward everything to your primary inbox, and delete the secondary address when the first spam waves hit your mailbox.
Rule #2: Create a secondary email for (suspicious) online registrations. And once you deem a service legit, you can replace the secondary address with your primary one. Remember that you don’t usually need to worry about respected websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, etc.
Distribute your email address selectively and keep it hidden whenever possible. These two principles have kept my mailbox spam-free since I changed my address. It only takes a single misstep to blow it so be careful at all times. Good luck!
Next, I would be happy to hear your tips on how to keep our mailboxes spam-free. Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks!