Coly Computer Help



Dealing with Spam




The original Spam Good news! Several UK ISPs (Internet Service Providers) have at last done the decent thing and are filtering out most spam and viruses. The Post Office, BT Open World, BT.Yahoo, Orange, and Eclipse have good spam and virus filters. The Orange filter is a little more difficult to set. The filter on OneTel is in my opinion a waste of time. With some ISPs, you need to access your ISP's website and log into your account to be able to set up the spam filter.

To reveal the source of a suspect email without opening it. Right click the email, then click Properties, then click the Details tab. Look at the item after the word From. A phishing email will not be from the organisation pretending  to be the sender. For instance if the email appeared to sent by the Inland Revenue (which never sends emails), looking at the properties, you might see that after the From word is an email address which has no connection with the Inland Revenue.

If your ISP is not filtering out spam, the best solution is to change to one that does. When you have changed, send an email with carbon copies to everyone in your address book to tell them your new mail address. Remember to delete your old ISP.
AOL also has a spam and virus filter but I avoid this quasi ISP like the plague because of the lengthy obstacle course  required to get to your emails or to load a website. Also it monopolises so many bits of your computer.

Stopping spam. One way of stopping the avalanche of Spam is to change your email address by changing your ISP (Internet Service Provider). This is easy using dial-up Pay-as-You-Go, but can be difficult if you are on a monthly contract or on broadband. After changing your ISP and resetting your email account to match, you need to send a round-robin email to all the contacts in your address book to advise them about your new email address.

The best way is as follows: Add your own email address into the Address Book, then delete any redundant addresses in the Address Book (click them and press the Delete key). Click Create New Mail, then click the tiny book with the word 'To' next to it. In the list of addresses click your own address and click the other 'To' button to pop your own address into the first window. Then click the first address in the list, hold down the Ctrl key and tap the letter 'A' key. The whole list will be selected.

Then, to omit the ones that you wish to exclude, hold down the Ctrl key and click the ones to be excluded. Now click the button labelled Bcc (Blind copy). All the selected recipients will pour into the Bcc window. Click OK. Type the Subject and the email message in the usual way and Send the message to your Outbox. The Bcc addresses will not be visible to the recipients and so you will not be broadcasting everyone's email address.

When doing this, the best plan is to send not more than 10 at a time, otherwise your email may rejected as spamming.

Emails offering pharmaceuticals are scams. The medicines are nearly always fakes and vary in quality from useless to very dangerous.

Emails offering cheap software. The cheap software is usually pirated (illegal copies) and can contain viruses.

Additional protection: My ISP has an excellent spam filter, but I also have a free program called SpamAware which I use to deal with the occasional bit of spam which slips through the ISP's filter. It is not very effective but it is satisfying to be able to banish spam to a black list.

If you fail to update your anti-virus program, clicking a spam link or attachment could launch a virus which will wreck your computer and disable your anti-virus program.

Set Outlook Express to avoid accidentally opening spam: In Outlook Express, click View then Layout. Click the box labelled Show preview panel, this removes the tick. Click OK. Now you can safely click spam to delete it without seeing its content or opening it. You will now need to double click the emails you wish to read.

Don't just delete spam, this  merely clogs up your Deleted Items folder. Always delete spam permanently as follows: select (highlight) the the spam email, then while holding down the Shift key, tap the Delete key.

Block Sender: the block sender facility is useless against spam. However, it can be helpful for blocking those idiotic acquaintances who insist on sending stupid messages or jokes.

NEVER, NEVER click anything on the main body of a spam email; if you click a link to say you do not wish to receive further emails (un-subscribe), you will treble the amount of spam and much of it will be pornographic.

Reputable firms never send unsolicited emails: You may receive bogus emails pretending to come from reputable firms such as Microsoft, SymantecStore, Inland Revenue, or a bank. These often offer free upgrades or other goodies. Others want you disclose your bank details.
Kill these emails immediately, they may also contain nasties called worms or Trojans. A worm/Trojan will corrupt your computer and it will send a copy of itself to everyone in your email address book. Your friends will not be very pleased.

Kill the following types of spam immediately, (select it then hold down Shift and tap the Delete key):-
1. Emails stating that your computer may have a virus (even if the emails come from acquaintances)
2. Emails containing virus warnings which offer free (and dangerous) software for deleting the bogus virus. Some of these emails contain a virus which is transmitted from computer to computer by asking you to forward the email to friends.
3. Chain (hoax) emails: Such emails are always sent by a well meaning acquaintance. The content of the email usually concerns a bogus threat i.e. a warning about a virus or a dodgy email. Hoax (chain) emails always ask you to forward a news item or a warning to all your friends. Never send the email to your friends and never reply; always delete the email instantly. Break the chain and spare your friends a lot of worry.
Click here to see how to recognise and deal with hoax (chain) emails .
4. Emails offering upgrades, anti-spam aids, or a screen saver.
5. Emails with attachments if they are from unknown persons.
6. Emails from banks and building societies are scams called phishing (fishing for your bank details).
7. Scam emails using well known names, e.g., spam pretending to be from Microsoft or Norton. The bogus Norton email is labelled 'Online Symantec Store'.
8. Emails from an unknown source saying you have been sent a greetings card. They nearly always contain dangerous or unpleasant content.
9. Emails from PayPal addressing you as Dear PayPal Member or Dear PayPal User. Genuine PayPal emails will always use your full name or business name and they never ask you for personal details.
10. All emails requesting confirmation of personal and/or financial details (phishing).
11. UPS emails. The parcel service UPS does not send emails. Kill an email purporting to come from UPS, it will contain a particularly nasty virus which will trash your computer.

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