What is spam? And why do I get it? - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

What is spam? And why do I get it?

What is it? (Besides a canned meat product)
"Spam", in short, is mass unsolicited electronic junk mail.

Why call it "spam"?
The name comes from a skit by the British sketch-comedy group "Monty Python". In the skit, a group of Vikings begin chanting "spam, spam, spam" softly in the background. As the skit progressed, the chanting became louder and louder, eventually drowning out everything else. The name "spam" has become associated with junk e mail because, like in the skit, it began to drown out everything else. That and the word "spam" is much easier to remember than "unsolicited commercial e mail (UCE)", which is it's official name.

How did I get on a spam list?
Many sites collect information from visitors and sell that information to list broker, who in turn sells lists of hundreds to million of names and e-mail addresses to bulk e-mailers. Another method of spamming uses computers that e-mail millions of random addresses based on different versions of common names and e-mail portals. A different method uses computers that scan and "harvest" e-mail addresses from public forums or chats. Occasionally lists are the result of online theft or hacking.

Make It STOP!!
Unfortunately, stopping spam is very difficult and time consuming. There are, however, things you can do to stop spam.

  • By United States law, all bulk e-mail originating in the United States must give you the option to have your name removed from the bulk mailing list from which it was obtained. This is usually a small link at the bottom the e-mail. Most reputable businesses will include this option and will remove your e-mail address if you request it. However, the giant loophole is that the Internet is international and US law does not apply to people or businesses outside the United States.
  • Most Internet providers give the consumer the option of using spam filtering software, ask your ISP about this option. There is also software for your personal accounts available at almost any software retailer.
  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC maintains a database of complaints that is used in prosecution of spammers. For more information or to file a complaint, visit the Federal Trade Commission's spam web site: http://www.ftc.gov/spam/
  • Complain the spammer's Internet Provider.
  • Don't buy anything from or visit any site that sends out spam. Spam exists because somewhere out there, people are buying things advertised in spam. If spamming stops being profitable, it will stop.

How can I avoid getting on a spam list?

  • Don't give out your personal information to sites you do not trust. Unless it is a business you are familiar with, such as your bank, a national retail site, or another trusted site, don't give out your information.
  • If you frequent chat rooms or online forums, setup a separate, disposable e-mail address just for use in a public capacity.
  • Choose an e mail address with more than just common words or names. A series of numbers added in makes it harder for spammers to randomly e mail you.
  • Don't sign up for drawings or contests without reading the Privacy Policy on the site. Many sites hold giveaways or contests expressly for the purpose of collecting personal information and e mail addresses.

What are some common scams associated with spam?
Many spam e mails are part of scams that could lead to Identity Theft, here are a few of the common types of spam:

  • Chain Letters: "_____ corporation is testing new technology. Pass this on and _____ will give you money for each person that receives it"
  • Work at Home Schemes "Send us $_____ and we'll help you work from home"
  • Credit Repair services "Send us your credit card information and we will repair your credit"
  • Foreign Money Transfer "Send someone in Nigeria (or other country) your bank account numbers, they will "temporarily" put $__ million into your account, of which you can keep 20%"

Overall, use common sense, if it is too good to be true, it isn't.

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