Eradicating email spam



Does the general public know to look at the checkboxes at the bottom of the purchase form to make sure they are always unchecked? Do they know to use an email alias when signing up for accounts? Do they know how to unsubscribe from them? Working with over nine hundred people on their email issues, I’ve found the majority don’t know.

Mistakes people make

Sharing your email address on your website without providing a CAPTCHA that visitors must solve. Spammers use web scraper tools or bots to find email addresses in plain text to target. Some of the spam emails I receive look like prewritten templates with my email address and a few other lookalikes. Often there are misspellings or the sentence wasn’t written well. That’s a sure sign to me that it’s spam.

Assuming that the email is from your bank or some other official website especially when you see the name on the email, the email looks like it’s from your bank, or a suggestion to click on a button. In these cases, I look at the original headers of the email address to see who actually sent it. It might say the bank’s name or some other name you are expecting but when you look at the email address it was sent from, the domain name in the email address doesn’t match the official website. And with buttons, I always hover over the button on a computer with a mouse so I can see how the link appears in the status bar of the web browser. If it’s going to a different URL than the original or if it has PHP in the link, then I mark the email as spam.

Signing up for accounts with your main email address. It’s a good idea to use an email alias, maybe create a different account just for the accounts you sign up with, or create a temporary forwarding email address for newsletters. Gmail allows plus addresses. Whenever I’m signing up for a new account, I use my Gmail username followed by a plus and a keyword before the at sign symbol such as username+keyword. Then in Gmail I create a filter that looks for email sent to that email address and place it all under a label. If that email address is used for another list that I didn’t sign up for, then I delete the account I originally used it for. On iCloud Mail, using Hide My Email, you can create random string email addresses that will forward to your main email address and then filter them with rules from so that it is applied to all your devices. If your email service provider doesn’t have this option, depending on how much you trust DuckDuckGo, DDG has a method (still in beta at the time of this writing) of sending your emails through their services before it reaches your inbox using an alias.

Reading emails in a program that doesn’t show the formatting on the message. Some email programs may not show how badly formatted the email body is. You may miss parts of it that were copied and pasted into the body and the sender or bot sending the email didn’t know how to clean up the text. Usually I will see parts of the text is darker than other parts or in a different font family or font size.

Not unchecking boxes while making purchases online. I suppose people think that these checkboxes are necessary to checking out or that they don’t see them because they are in a rush to checkout. I have had to uncheck the same box several times because it would often recheck itself. Some websites require your email for a newsletter before you can purchase the item. I will give it with an alias then go to my email and unsubscribe after the purchase and make sure that I’m unsubscribing from all their lists and not just one. Some people I’ve worked with have the preconception that if they unsubscribe they won’t receive future receipts. That’s usually not true. I will receive security notices, terms of service updates, or purchase receipts even after I have unsubscribed from all their email lists.


Some spam will keep flooding your inbox despite trying to unsubscribe, will have an unsubscribe button that goes to a broken website, or will be forwarded from another account you own. For those, I write a filter or rule to automatically move it to spam based on the sending address and use boolean logic to include all other matching addresses using the same domain.

Other spam emails will make it impossible for you to unsubscribe by hiding that link. In Gmail, there’s usually a link at the very bottom of the those messages provided by Google to view original email. Other times I need to click on view email in browser usually at the top of newsletters. Still others will show it but change the color of the text to match the background of the email so I use Cmd/Ctrl + F to search the web page for unsubscribe. Additionally, I’ll create a filter in Gmail to label all messages with unsubscribe in the body of the text so I can see all those emails under one label. Gmail will provide a link at the top of these emails to automate the unsubscribe process and send an email on your behalf.

Marking emails that are spam in Gmail affects all users of Gmail and Google’s Workspace Gmail so usually having a few people mark their legit emails as not spam seems to resolve the sender’s problem of landing in spam even with server settings for DMARC, SPF, and DKIM enabled correctly. And I’ve seen users of Yahoo or Hotmail/ webmail, that that action seems to only apply to their inbox and not to other accounts.

The spam folder is there to collect spam for you. Don’t dive into the spam folder unless you can’t find an email that someone sent you. In Gmail it will automatically delete itself just like your trash. You could easily add a virus to your computer or corrupt extension to your web browser if you make an effort of looking through your spam/junk folder and opening those emails and clicking on attachments.

Written in response to Jim Grey’s post:


4 responses to “Eradicating email spam”

  1. Jim Grey Avatar

    Lots of useful info here!

    1. Daniel Brinneman Avatar

      Thank you, Jim! Hopefully it will be.

  2. John Doll Avatar
    John Doll

    Thanks for the free info! I get tons of spam, so this is helpful.

    1. Daniel Brinneman Avatar

      Thanks for dropping by.

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