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Junk Email is Called Spam
Breaking the Cycle
By Michael C. Dennis, MBA, CBF

Email is a powerful communications tool, used by millions of people. Unfortunately, such a powerful tool can also be used in less productive ways. Many of us have seen an increase in the amount of "junk mail" which shows up in our email inbox. Spam in the form of commercial advertising is flooding the Internet. Why? Because it is almost as cheap to send 1000 outbound email messages as it is to send one.

Most credit professionals that I speak to receive only a few spam emails per day, so why is this a problem? Who cares about this stuff? Why not just delete it? The answer is that if this problem goes unchecked the problem could expand from a few junk emails a day to a few dozen or even a hundred or more.

How do you break the cycle? Surprisingly, unsubscribing to unwanted email services do not work. Sometimes, when you click on the link at the bottom of the email to unsubscribe instead what you do is verify that your email address is valid. Since spam email companies share list, you may actually receive more unwanted and unsolicited messages as a result of unsubscribing - rather than fewer messages. Unsubscribing will never get your email address off lists that have been sold or traded to others.

Protecting users from spam makes the Internet more useful as a tool to conduct business. How do you prevent spam?

  • One myth is that there is a central clearinghouse you can contact to get your name taken off most spam mailing lists. This does not exist.
  • Claim that spam is illegal and threaten legal action. This is unlikely to work. In the U.S., everything not explicitly unlawful is lawful, and there are no far-reaching laws governing spam.

What does work?

  • Protect your email address.
  • Don't sign up for sites indiscriminately. Always read the fine print before registering at a Web site.
  • Read the privacy policy of any site you register on or join.
  • Be wary of chat rooms, online bulletin boards and Usenet newsgroups.
  • If your ISP offers them, use email filters to block incoming bulk mail from known spammers and those using falsified return addresses

Remember that if you only receive five spam messages a day, and you only spend one minute each, you have wasted five minutes as well as valuable company resources. Imagine how much more time would be wasted if you and your subordinates each received 50 spam messages a day. The time to act is now. The ability to control spam involves limiting access to your email address.

One Final Thought: If you cannot shake the email bombardment, consider changing your email address permanently.

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