Check who emails are from. Most of the time, spam comes from an unrecognized sender, often with odd email addresses. That doesn’t mean all unrecognized email is spam—legitimate newsletters, website administration emails (password resets, authentication requests, etc.), and more may come from addresses you don’t recognize—but spam emails usually have multiple numbers, dashes, and/or odd letter combinations in them.
- If you're unsure of a link in an email from a friend, consider calling them and asking about the link. The case may be that their contacts list was compromised by spam.
Check the email's spelling. Spam often contains misspellings and oddly-worded sentences. This can include bizarre capitalization and weird punctuation, or awkward formatting such as bolding, italics, and randomly colored text.
- Many email services have a preview window which will allow you to read the beginning of an email message without opening it.
Don’t give out your email address online. “Robots” (scripts created to scrape websites for addresses) can quickly gather thousands of emails at a time from websites where the email addresses are made public. Avoid entering your email address to sign up for things like coupons, and never type out your email address in a comment or post online.
Make your email address unscannable. If you must provide your email address in a public context, try writing it out in creative ways (e.g., "name [at] yahoo [dot] com" instead of "[email protected]"). This will prevent would-be spammers from pulling your email address with an automated program.
- Services such as Yahoo! Chat make this even easier, since chances are everyone using it has a @yahoo.com email address.
Never respond to spam. Replying or clicking the “Unsubscribe” link will only generate more spam, because doing so confirms that your email address is valid and active. It is best to report and delete the spam using the steps in the following sections.
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