Dealing With SPAM - An E-mail Address Strategy

With SPAM being such a problem it might seem the right thing to do is never give anyone your email address. As a strategy that's not bad but it misses one rather important point; the purpose of having an email address is to be able to exchange emails, both with friends and also as a means to receive eZines from online forums and information sites. In theory any one of these sources could share your email address with a spammer (perhaps by listing it on a public site) and before you know it your email box is full of emails you don't want and can't stop... note, we do not do this, your address is safe with us.

Therefore what you need would seem to be a list of separate email addresses, all of which are yours, that you allocate out to the different email lists and online forums you have. That way if one of the addresses gets picked up by the spammers you can just drop and block that one address (and perhaps the list it was subscribed to) and continue in your low or no-SPAM world.

So how do we do this?

What we're going to do is use one "real" email account (ideally with a hard to guess name) and then a set of forwarded email addresses, all of which are different, but all point back to the real email address. Typically your ISP (Internet Service Provider) provides a small number of email-boxes for you (normally called "POP3" mailboxes). Choose one of these to be your "real" email address and point your email client to it (follow the instruction in your email client such as Outlook Express and ISP to do this). Then we need to register a domain name which will allow us to have lots of forwarded email addresses. 123-Reg.com are an example of a company that provides an inexpensive high-quality service to do this, so we'll use them as an example. Create an account, it's free to do this, and give them your real email address. Then you should register a domain name with them; obviously you need to think of a domain name which you would like as part of your "public face." Choosing a name you like can take a little thought, but don't take too long, domain names are being registered at the rate of one every two seconds, so get in to secure yours as soon as you can! The cost is very low, with .uk domains at around UK£3 / US$5 per year and .com/.net around UK£9 / US$15 per year (note, you should register for at least two years). Using the email forwarding option from the 123-reg.com control panel, set the catch-all address as your real email address. Then any emails sent to any name at your domain will be forwarded on to you automatically.

Here's a worked example for Brenda Wyatt.

  • Brenda's ISP supplied POP3 email address is [email protected]
  • She creates an account at 123-reg.com and registers the domain "WyattMail.net"
  • She sets up email forwarding via the 123-reg control panel to forward all emails received to @wyattmail.net to [email protected]
Now when Brenda signs up to a forum or email list she gives an email address which is individual to that list. Let's say she registers with Amazon, she could register as '[email protected]'. They will send emails to that address which will be forwarded to her [email protected] email address and she can read them as she wishes.

The nice thing about this system is that Brenda hasn't had to go anywhere else to register the email address '[email protected]', 123-reg just sees the wyattemail.net part and sends it on for her.

So what happens if she finds one of her email addresses is being targeted by spammers? Let's assume this happens to her "[email protected]" email address. She then goes to 123-reg.com, logs in and goes to the control panel. She selects the email forwarding page, adds a fresh line with '[email protected]' in it, clicks the 'return to sender' checkbox and clicks 'update'. Now any email to this address will be returned to whence it came. Nice, eh?

©2005 Paul Quirk & Mark Quirk. Article taken from CareOfWindowsXP.com.

Paul Quirk & Mark Quirk are both IT professionals with a combined 35 years of experience in the IT industry. Find out more about keeping your computer under your control at http://www.CareOfWindowsXP.com.

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