Tips for Reducing Spam

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Follow these guidelines to lower your risk of receiving junk email!

  1. Take advantage of the Junk Email Filter in Outlook and Office 365 Webmail. Outlook and Office 365 webmail help mitigate the problem of spam by providing a Junk Email filter, which automatically evaluates incoming messages and sends those identified as spam to the Junk Email folder.
  2. Block pictures in HTML messages that spammers use as Web beacons. Outlook has an additional anti-spam feature. By default, this feature blocks automatic picture downloads and other external content in messages if the content is linked to another server. When this feature is turned off, if you open a message that has external content, that content downloads automatically, inadvertently verifying to the sender that your email address is valid. Your email address can then be sold to a spammer. You can unblock external content for messages that come from sources you trust.
  3. Turn off read and delivery receipts and automatic processing of meeting requests. Spammers sometimes resort to sending meeting requests and messages that include requests for read and delivery receipts. Responding to such meeting requests and read receipts might help spammers verify your email address. You can turn off tracking by:
    1. On the File menu, click Options.
    2. Click Mail, and then scroll down to the Tracking section.
    3. Uncheck any options you no longer wish to use.
  4. Limit the places where you post your email address. Be cautious about posting your email address on public web sites, such as newsgroups, chat rooms, bulletin boards, and so forth. When visiting public sites, you might want to use an email address that is different than your main email address. Whenever you list or link to your email address, you increase your chances of being spammed. Emails addresses on the VWCC website are masked in a way to prevent them being harvested by spammers.
  5. Review the privacy policies of web sites. When you sign up for online banking, shopping, or newsletters, review the privacy policy of the site carefully before you reveal your email address or other personal information. Look for a link or section (usually at the bottom of the web site’s home page) called “Privacy Policy”, “Privacy Statement”, “Terms and Conditions”, or “Terms of Use”. If the web site does not explain how your personal information will be used, consider not using the services at that site.
  6. Watch out for check boxes that are already selected. When you shop online, companies sometimes add a check box that is already selected, which indicates that it is fine with you if the company sells or gives your email address to other businesses (or “third parties). Clear this check box so that your email address is not shared.
  7. Don’t reply to spam. Never replay to an email message — even to subscribe from a mailing list — unless you know and trust the sender. For example, if the email address comes from a service, online store, or newsletter that you know you have signed up with. Answering spam just confirms to the spammer that your email address is an active one.
  8. If a company uses email messages to ask for personal information, don’t respond by sending a message. Most legitimate companies will not ask for personal information to be sent in an email. Be suspicious if they do. Such a request could be a spoofed email message disguised to look like a legitimate one. This tactic is known as phishing. If the possible spam appears to be sent by a company that you do business with — for example, your credit card company — then call the company to verify that they sent it (not using a phone number provided in the email). If the request is a legitimate one, the company’s customer service representative should be able to assist you. The Junk Email filter also includes phishing protection to help identify and disable suspicious messages.
  9. Don’t contribute to a charity in response to a request sent in email. Unfortunately, some spammers prey on your good will. If you receive an email appeal from a charity, treat it as spam. If the charity is one you want to support, locate their telephone number or web site to find out how you can make a contribution.
  10. Don’t forward chain email messages. Besides increasing overall email volume, forwarding a chain email message might be furthering a hoax — and meanwhile, you lose control over who sees your email address.