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It's happened to most of us one time or another: you log into your email one day and have fifty or more emails announcing that you've won a "free*" laptop or that you can "make $10,000 working from home!" Unfortunately, there is no established, fool-proof method to completely stop these unwanted emails, but there are some steps you can take to reduce the amount of spam you receive:

    • Beware that entering your name/address online may increase the amount of email you receive.
      It's the same phenomenon as when you order something from a printed catalog: Once you order from one company, they'll share your address with other companies who will send you their catalogs too.
    • Look for subscribe checkboxes.
      When entering your e-mail account into a form online, look for checkboxes that you can select/deselect to subscribe to a mailing list or share your information with the company's partners and advertisers.
    • Know when to unsubscribe and when to just delete.
      Some unwanted e-mail will include an unsubscribe option at the bottom of the e-mail. Check things out before you click on it. 
      • Visit the company's website. Does it feel and look legitimate? 
      • Do they list a Privacy Policy and contact information? 

If the answers are yes, it's probably safe to use the unsubscribe option. If you're uncertain, don't click -- some sites will interpret your unsubscribe request as confirmation that your email address is legitimate and then sell it to other places. Instead, monitor the emails to look for a pattern and set up an email filter to file or delete those emails.

  • Don't fall into the trap of email scams.
    Be aware of common email scams. lists some of the most common email scams. Another trustworthy site is
  • Avoid listing your email address on web pages.
    Whether it's a personal site or departmental site, avoid listing your email address with the basic, HTML "mailto" command. To find alternatives, do a search on "encrypting email addresses on web pages" and/or view this site
  • Configure your email client's spam filter.
    Many email clients provide a spam filter which will block suspicious emails from your inbox and store them into another folder to be automatically deleted after a certain amount of time. You can mark messages from your inbox as spam and the client will filter out all similar future messages. It's a good idea to periodically monitor your spam folder and make sure nothing legitimate got moved in, but if it's something you didn't expect or from a sender you don't know, it's probably best to delete it.


Articles and sources are referenced for the reader's convenience. Inclusion on this page does not indicate OTS support for any products mentioned or advertised.

Last Published 12/18/15