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Dealing with Spam: Part 2

Estimated Lesson Time: 5 minutes

It is important to know spammer’s “tricks of the trade.” These are tricks used by spammers to prevent them from being shut down, get the attention of readers, build more qualified lists, and prevent spam filters from detecting their messages. Spammers rely on deceptive practices to increase the odds that their messages will be read. Much of the deception turns into outright fraud when it comes to the offer. Learn the following “tricks” and save yourself countless hours of dealing with spam.

  • Fake name. The “From” address will often appear like it is coming from a friend like “John Smith” or perhaps something a bit less obvious. At times, the spammer will also use your name as “From,” to be sure to get you to open the message.
  • Bogus subject. It is common for spammers to use attention-getting subjects, such as “Your order” or “Here is the information you requested.” Don’t bother replying to them with a long e-mail asking, “what order?”
  • RE:. Spammers will include “RE:” in the subject to make you think they are replying to an e-mail that you initiated.
  • Fake “To” header. Spammers will often send their spams using a fake “To” address, (with a fake “From” address, of course) to make it seem as if your receiving the message was an accident. The curious nature of people impels them to read the message thinking they are “spying” on someone else’s e-mail.
  • The old “unsubscribe” trick. Spammers will buy millions of e-mail addresses for pennies then send out spam with a “If this was sent to you in error, click here to unsubscribe” message. Once the unsuspecting public clicks the link, they have just confirmed for the spammer that their e-mail address is valid. Now the spammer sells the addresses as “confirmed” e-mail addresses and the amount of spam multiplies exponentially. Never click any links in spam. Only click unsubscribe links in e-mails to which you know you subscribed.
  • Encryption. Spammers now encrypt e-mails so that spam filters will not pick up keywords, such as “free” or “Viagra.” Before spending time setting up spam filters to block spam, “view source” of the e-mail and see if it is encoded or if words are recognizable. If it is encoded, you can often create a filter based on the URL that is linked in the e-mail, which should not be encoded.
  • Random codes. Spammers add random codes to both the subjects and message bodies, so spam filters are thrown off. Solution: set up filters that are a bit looser, i.e., don’t require an exact match of the subject.

In addition to the many deceptions you should be aware of, here are a few serious scams that frequently appear.

  • Credit card update. These messages appear as if they are coming from a trusted vendor or bank, asking you to update your information and/or credit card. Those who fall for this are giving up their personal information to identity thieves who end up charging their credit cards to the max. You can ALWAYS tell if this is fake by the URL that appears in your browser when you click the link. The URL should be of the domain name you trust and not an IP address (numbers) or an unfamiliar domain name. Besides, most reputable vendors would not ask for this kind of information by e-mail.
  • “Urgent Assistance.” This is the major multi-million dollar scam that plays on people’s greed and desire for quick cash with no work. It appears to be from some foreign diplomat needing an American bank to get money out of their country. The one who helps is promised millions of dollars. The scam is, they require you to wire a “good faith” deposit of tens of thousands of dollars, after which, of course, you will never see your money again or hear from the “diplomat.”
  • “Microsoft Update.” This is a message that appears to be coming from Microsoft that includes an attachment. The e-mail instructs the user to run this file to update Windows. Microsoft would NEVER do anything like this... these are viruses and/or programs that open up your computer to hackers.

Common sense should be used where rules do not exist. There are many scams sent by spam today so use your common sense to determine for yourself what is a scam.

I have been criticized by others in the past for having too liberal of a policy in dealing with spam. This is because I choose not to be an activist on the subject. Each person only has so much time to spend, and he or she must focus energies on causes that are most important to him or her. For me, it is sharing success, not fighting spam. If spam is a cause you feel is worth fighting for, then there is much more you can do than just hitting the delete key. To learn more about fighting spam, please visit http://spam.abuse.net.

Every minute you spend in your life is either spent bringing you closer to your goals or moving you away from your goals. Unless your goals include fighting spam, time spent dealing with spam is wasted time that you can never get back. Don’t allow yourself to get angered by spam. Use the advice in this lesson to create your own method of dealing with spam and spend the time you save working on your goals.


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Have a podcast or know someone who does? Putting on a conference? Dr. Bennett is available for interviews and public speaking events. Contact him directly here.

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  • Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
  • Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
  • What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)
    From the Course:
    Personal Development
    Year To Success
    Bo Bennett, PhD

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    Personal Development : Personal Transformation
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