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There Is a Way to Blow the Whistle on Spam

It's just about impossible to avoid spam—those emails that fill your inbox, that you don't really want, from strangers or companies you never asked to send you messages or offers.

When you get spam or any unwanted messages you can do one of the following:

  • Go ahead and click on it to see who it's from and what it's about...but that's not a great idea
  • Open it up and click on any links inside the message...that's probably a worse idea
  • Report it right away, without opening it, to your Internet Service Provider (ISP). There's usually a "report spam" button somewhere on your email page that let's you do that
  • Here's something you probably didn't know you could do: Report it to a spam reporting service whose job it is to take decisive steps to end the spam—more on that later

The bottom line is this: There are right ways and wrong ways to deal with spam

Don't send a nasty reply...or any reply.

Don't bother sending a return message to spammers telling them what you think and to leave you alone. It's a waste of time. Why? Because there's not really a "face" on the other end of the email...just a spamming system. In fact, replying to spam most likely will serve to increase the amount of spam you get. The system will realize that you're an active email account, which is the kind of target they want.

Should you report spam to your ISP (Internet Service Provider)? Yes. That's always a good step, but it isn't enough.

So you should take the next logical step because there's a more effective way report a persistent spammer—you contact the IT/administrators at the network from which the spam originated. Go right to the network (Gmail, Yahoo, etc.) and let them know what one of their clients is up to.

Being a good Internet citizen.

While it's wonderful that the Internet is open to everyone, we all know there are many who abuse it and spammers are at the top of the list. The good news is, it's not at all tolerated by legitimate communication organizations and there are rules they follow to try to limit it.

You play a role in helping them curb spam with every spam email you get. You need to do "more than ignore"—you and everyone else need to take a stand and make a decision to fight back in a simple, straightforward way.

As an individual email user, you can help solve the problem by reporting spam when you get it and letting websites and network managers know when their clients are spamming you. The fact is, if networks or companies don't know that spam is originating from their servers, they can't do anything about it.

Cutting into spam. It's your duty.

You've heard of a "neighborhood watch" program, where a community looks out for suspicious and out—of—the—ordinary behavior. When they see something that looks out of place they report it to the authorities. It's an active step taken to help keep the neighborhood safe.

In a similar way, businesses use tip lines for employees to "blow the whistle" on fraud and inappropriate behavior. It's about doing the right thing.

You need to look at spam messages in the same way... as improper email/Internet activity that's out of line with "normal" behavior...and as an activity that needs to be reported, investigated and stopped.

Imagine if you and everyone else who got spam did something about it. Think of the impact that might have on reducing spam.

Well, you don't really have to imagine. You can take action.

Call the spam cops.

Here's what you can do: Go online line and lookup an organization called

SpamCop is a leading online service for reporting spam. It receives your input and determines the origin of unwanted email and reports it to the relevant Internet Service Providers for you...and for thousands of others. Here's more good news:

  • You can set up a free SpamCop account that allows you to use their spam—fighting network and software system
  • You'll be able to report the spam you receive—especially the heavy offenders—directly to SpamCop and indirectly to the specific networks that are hosting spammers

You'll be helping the ISPs because they absolutely don't want spammers abusing their network and bothering customers. With useful information to investigate with, an ISP can shut down a spammer's email or even their online account.

Take action!

With the ideas covered here—reporting spam to your ISP and to SpamCop—you can do more than just throw your hands up in frustration. You can to take steps to fight back and help put spammers out of business.

And wouldn't that help you feel a whole lot better?