Best practices to help prevent spam Print

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Follow these guidelines to help lower your risk of getting junk e-mail.

    • Take advantage of the Junk E-mail Filter in Outlook 2003   The Junk E-mail Filter uses state-of-the-art technology to evaluate whether a message, including advanced analysis of the words and structure of the message, to determine the probability that it is junk e-mail. By default, this filter is set to a low setting that is designed to catch the most obvious junk e-mail. Any message that is caught by the filter is moved to a special Junk E-mail folder, where you can retrieve or review it at a later time. In addition, you can add e-mail addresses to the Safe Senders List, Safe Recipients List, and Blocked Senders List to give you even more control over what will and won't be treated as spam.

    • Increase your protection level as you need to obtain the maximum protection possible from using the Junk E-mail Filter and other enhanced privacy features, set the protection level of the Junk E-mail Filter to High or to Safe Lists Only.

    • Keep your Junk E-mail Filter updated  Updates are available at Downloads on Office Online. Under Office Update, click Check for Updates.

    • Block images in HTML messages that spammers use as Web beacons. A Web beacon can be a graphic image, linked to an external Web server, that is placed in an HTML-formatted message and can be used to verify that your e-mail address is valid when the message is opened and images downloaded. By default, Outlook is set to block automatic picture downloads. To verify what your automatic download settings are, on the Tools menu, click Options. Click the Security tab, and then click Change Automatic Download Settings. Verify that the Don't download pictures or other content automatically in HTML e-mail check box is selected.

    • Turn off automatic processing of meeting requests and read and delivery receipts   Spammers sometimes resort to sending meeting requests and messages with delivery receipts requested. Responding to meeting requests and read and delivery receipts automatically makes you vulnerable to Web beacons.

    • Limit where you post your e-mail address   Be cautious about posting your e-mail address on public Web sites, and remove your e-mail address from your personal Web site. If you list or link to your e-mail address, you can expect to be spammed.

    • Disguise (or "munge") your e-mail address when you post it to a newsgroup, chat room, bulletin board, or other public places  For example, you can give your e-mail address as "s0me0ne@example.c0m" by using the number zero instead of the letter "o." This way, a person can interpret your address, but the automated programs that spammers use cannot.

    • Use multiple e-mail addresses for different purposes   You might set up one for personal use to correspond with friends, family, or colleagues, and use another for more public activities, such as requesting information, shopping, or for subscribing to newsletters, discussion lists, and newsgroups.

    • Review the privacy policies of Web sites   When you sign up for online banking, shopping, and newsletters, review the privacy policy closely before you reveal your e-mail address and other personal information. Look at the Web site for a link (usually at the bottom of the home page) or section called "Privacy Statement," "Privacy Policy," "Terms and Conditions," or "Terms of Use." If the Web site does not explain how it will use your personal information, think twice about using that service.

    • Watch out for check boxes that are already selected   When you buy things online, companies sometimes add a check box (already selected!) to indicate that it is fine to sell or give your e-mail address to other businesses (third parties). Clear the check box so that your e-mail address won't be shared.

    • Don't reply to spam   Don't reply even to unsubscribe unless you know and trust the sender. Answering spam just confirms that your e-mail address is live.

    • If a company uses e-mail messages to ask for personal information, don't respond by sending a message  Most legitimate companies will not ask for personal information in e-mail. Be suspicious if they do. It could be a spoofed e-mail message meant to look like a legitimate one. This tactic is known as "phishing" because, as the name implies, the spam is used as a means to "fish" for your credentials, such as your account number and passwords that are necessary to access and manipulate your financial accounts. If the spam is from a company that you do business with — for example, your credit card company — call the company, but don't use a phone number provided on the e-mail. Use a number that you find yourself, either through directory assistance, a bank statement, a bill, or other source. If it is a legitimate request, the telephone operator should be able to help you.

    • Don't contribute to a charity based on a request in e-mail  Unfortunately, some spammers prey on your good will. If you receive an appeal from a charity, treat it as spam. If it is a charity that you want to support, find their number elsewhere and call them to find out how you can make a contribution.

    • Don't forward chain e-mail messages   Besides causing more traffic over the line, forwarding a chain e-mail message might be furthering a hoax, and you lose control over who sees your e-mail address.

    • If you have a website, use a form mail system to mask your real email address.

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