Dealing with SPAM

by Selwyn Bergman of BMSC-Online

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This is a 5 part tutorial on how to deal with spam email. It'll show you:

  • The actual problem of Spam
  • Who can stop Spam
  • How to trace the spam email
  • How to trace the spammer's ISP and,
  • How to report the spam email to the ISP

The actual problem with Spam

RageIf you own an email address, you're more than likely to have received a junk message from someone you dont know, claiming to have an amazing product which you can buy at a few clicks of the mouse. There are startling claims that spam accounts for some 80% of all email communications sent and it threatens the very existence of the internet. Most people simply find spam annoying and time consuming while others have actually lost money due to the acceptance of bogus offers. Yet almost all Internet Service Providers (ISP) include an Acceptable Use Policy in their contracts which states clearly that no client may use the services provided by the ISP to send out SPAM. Courts in the US are taking the battle even further by awarding damages from $10 per SPAM email to recipients of SPAM through to $1 billion to ISP's whose facilities have been used by Spammers to conduct their activities. If everyone who operates an email address in South Africa could receive a $10 for each SPAM email received would we still be in such dire financial straits?

Its also clear that replying to the email directly is unsuccessful as culprits almost always cloak their real email identity using some clever software programs. In the unlikely event that the spammer actually receives your reply, there is also no guarantee that they'll adhere to your wishes to be left alone, even if you quote Section blah de blah of Act blah de point 184 of 1980 whatever. Even the 'opt out' links provided on some spam messages are simply just a way to let spammers know that the address is valid and their emails have been received (and read) by someone.

...spam accounts for some 80% of all email communications sent

The bitter truth about spam is that the true culprits are difficult to get hold of, and they're simply not interested in your inconveniences. But we have some broader internet policies that are working in our favour: the powers that be as far as the internet is concerned, consider spam to be a huge problem and; an ISP somewhere has a positively-accepted contract with the sender of the spam which shows that he / she agreed not to do so.

Next: Who can stop Spam
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