Avoid email spam like a pro

May 11, 2017

Like many who have email accounts, you have probably noticed an alarming number of unsolicited “spam” or "junk" emails showing up in your in-box.

Better Business Bureau Serving Acadiana warns many of these emails are attempts to scam consumers or steal private information by installing malware on your computer.

Others are unsolicited advertisements peddling everything from athletic shoes to virility drugs. These businesses often get email lists from list brokers, who compiles it by gathering addresses from the Internet. The same is often true for scammers, who also often hack email accounts and steal additional emails from contact lists.

If your email address is shared in a news group posting, a website, a chat room or in an online service's membership directory, it may find its way onto these lists and into the hands of scam artists.

BBB and the Federal Trade Commission suggest the following tips on how you can reduce the amount of spam you receive:

  • Try not to display your email address in public. That includes newsgroup postings, chat rooms, websites or in an online service's membership directories; spammers may use them to harvest addresses.
  • Check the privacy policy when you submit your address to a web site. See if it allows the company to sell your address. You can choose to opt-out of this provision, or refuse to submit your address to web sites that will not protect it.
  • Read and understand the entire form before you transmit personal information through a web site. Some web sites allow you to opt out of receiving email from their "partners" - read the directions carefully if you want to opt out.
  • Consider establishing two email addresses - one for personal messages and one for newsgroups and chat rooms. You also might use a disposable email address service that would create a separate email address that forwards to your permanent account. If one of the disposable addresses begins to receive spam, you can shut it off without affecting your permanent address.
  • Use a unique email address. Your choice of email addresses may affect the amount of spam you receive. Spammers use "dictionary attacks" to sort through possible name combinations at large ISPs or email services, hoping to find a valid address. Thus, a common name such as "jdoe" may get more spam than a more unique name like "jd51x02." Of course, there is a downside - it is harder to remember an unusual email address.
  • Use an email filter. Check your email account to see if it provides a tool to filter out potential spam or a way to channel spam into a bulk email folder. You might want to consider these options when you are choosing which Internet Service Provider (ISP) to use.


If you receive unwanted or deceptive messages, send a copy of the spam to your ISP's abuse desk. By doing this you let the ISP know about the spam problem on their system and help them to stop it in the future.

Make sure to include a copy of the spam, along with the full email header. At the top of the message, state that you are complaining about being spammed.

Also complain to the sender's ISP. Most ISPs want to cut off spammers who abuse the system.

“Look for the Seal” and Start with Trust®. BBB Serving Acadiana is a private non-profit organization that strives for a trustworthy marketplace by maintaining standards for truthful advertising, investigating and exposing fraud against consumers and businesses.

Please contact Better Business Bureau at (337) 981-3497 24 or bbb.org 24 hours a day for information on businesses throughout North America. Consumers can also sign up for our free BBB “Scoop” eNewsletter by visiting bbb.org and clicking on the “Programs & Services” tab.

BBB Serving Acadiana services the parishes of Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Landry and Vermilion.