Why you keep getting spam emails and how to stop it

Why you keep getting spam emails and how to stop it
Posted at 5:01 AM, Oct 13, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-14 10:00:01-04

Of the billions and billions of emails sent every day, two out of every three are spam emails trying to get your money or your identity, or both, experts say.

Erik Bornemeier is fed up with spam and said he gets spam in his inbox for every thing imaginable, from nutrition to cars. If hogging up his inbox wasn't bad enough, Bornemeier said he finds the spammers are getting pretty tricky.

"They'll say it's coming from Steve or Bob or Jim — a legitimate contact I have — to trick you into opening up the email,” he said.

The worst thing you can do

Some of that spam says he can simply "unsubscribe" to opt-out of future emails, but he said that doesn't work.

Network security expert Kathryn Linford says the unsubscribe button just sends a signal to the spammers.

"The worst thing you can do is hit unsubscribe,” Linford said. “You've confirmed to them that this is an active email, this is a valid address. They now can take that info and sell it, they can use it, they can add it to all their lists."

So what email users do to fight back? Start by moving those unsolicited emails to the spam or junk folder, Linford advises.

"Once you put something in junk , it will classify that as spam in the future,” she said.

The real problem is, Linford said, spammers will spoof their emails to make them look like they're coming from someone else. To help, you can also download spam filters for your computer. Some are free and others cost money. But while they can stem most of the onslaught, spammers can skirt filters, too.

The best thing you can do

What's the biggest thing you can do to stop spam? Start by not posting your email address where anyone can see it, Linford said.

“If it's something I'm signing up for online, I have a separate email address I use for that,” she said.

Bornemeier says the junk folder is curbing some of the spam, but he still has to click the delete button again and again to get to his real emails.

“You feel pigeonholed, cornered,” he said. “I don't want to change my email address. I could do that, but why should I have to do that?”

And no matter how good of a deal it looks, don't buy whatever the spammers are pushing into your inbox.

"By purchasing, all we're doing is encouraging these people to keep doing this,” Linford said.