When you get a random spam email, perhaps the first thing you ask yourself is "how do spammers get my email address?" But perhaps the more relevant concern is how to stop it from happening again.
In this article, I'm going to show you how to stop and report spam emails. In the process, we'll get some tips from money expert Clark Howard and explore some anti-spam tools to save your inbox.
Quick Links: How To Get Rid of Spam Emails
First of all, although there is a bit of a distinction between spam emails, which could come from legitimate companies as well as entities you do not know – and scam emails, Clark wants you to be cautious about any email correspondence that seems sketchy.
In that case, it's important that you do not click on any links inside the email, although you can read them.
“With the email, note what they’ve said and delete it,” Clark says.
How To Stop Getting Spam Emails
Block Spam Emails in Your Inbox
The way to stop getting spam emails generally is to click on the message you want to block and manage it separately. For example, in Yahoo Mail, you’ll see at the top of your inbox three horizontal dots. When you click them, you can select either “Unsubscribe,” “Filter Messages Like This” or “Block Senders.”
Other major email providers have a similar process that may vary slightly.
Let’s go over some other ways you can stop getting spam emails.
Unsubscribing by manually going through your inbox can take up a lot of time. In our guide on how to stop junk mail, I touch on a technique I use to unsubscribe from spam emails that pop up in my inbox.
Before You Use the Unsubscribe Button…
Many legit emails have an “unsubscribe” button at the bottom, but there may be some that use it as a way to confirm your real email address. In that case, what will typically happen is you’ll click the unsubscribe link and soon your inbox will get filled with even more spammers.
David Lazarus of The Los Angeles Times says the better option may be reporting those emails as spam. Over time, that sender will be blocked by your email provider.
Use Your Phone’s Features
Your phone may also hold the key to getting rid of the many spam emails you get on it. For instance, if you have an Apple device, the company protects you from spam emails courtesy of the “Hide my email” feature when you sign up for a service or subscription on your iPhone or iPad.
Hide My Email (Apple Only)
The Hide My Email feature, which debuted with Apple's iOS 13 launch, works with third-party sites that have the "Sign in with Apple" option enabled. Hide My Email generates unique, random email addresses that automatically forward to your personal inbox. Each address is unique to you. You can read and respond directly to emails sent to these addresses and your personal email address is kept private," it says on Apple.com.
You may have a spam folder that catches many of the more ridiculous email messages, but even still, that doesn’t stop many things from making their way to your inbox.
Create an Alias Email Address
Some free email providers, specifically Gmail, allow you to create an alias email address that lives inside your regular email address, which means it utilizes the same inbox, settings and login information.
The benefit of creating an alias email address is that you can filter unwanted emails to that address and into a folder, which will keep your main inbox clean.
Here’s how to create an alias email address with Gmail.com.
- Log in to your Gmail account and click on the "Show Search Options" icon in the search box. A dialog box will appear.
- In the "To" field of the dialog box, type in the alias email address you want to use.
- Click on "Create Filter." Then choose whether you want messages sent to this email address to be deleted, archived or categorized. For the latter, choose "categorize as."
- Once you choose the category, let's say you click on "Promotions," those emails will only be accessible from a folder rather than your primary email inbox.
Create a Throwaway Email Address
One way to ensure that your main email account isn’t inundated with spam messages and annoying correspondence from people or companies you don’t know is to set up a throwaway email address.
Essentially, this process involves using an alternative email address that differs from the one you use and need the most.
Read more in our guide on how to create a throwaway email address.
How To Report Spam Email
The major email providers Yahoo, Gmail and Outlook allow you to report spam from your inbox.
Report Spam To Your Email Provider
For Gmail: Open the message you want to report as spam. Click on the "Report Spam" button in the top menu (In the image below, it's the second icon from the left).
Gmail's Support page says, "When you click Report spam or manually move an email into your Spam folder, Google will receive a copy of the email and may analyze it to help protect our users from spam and abuse."
For Yahoo: Click on the message. Click the Spam button (the shield icon with an "x" inside). This will report the email to Yahoo and automatically move it to the spam folder.
For Outlook: In Outlook, open the message and you'll see above the reading pane an option to select Junk > Phishing > Report to report the message sender.
Report Email Spam To the FTC
The U.S. government is also interested in helping Americans free themselves from spam emails. The Federal Trade Commission also says you can report spam emails to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
Spam emails can really be annoying, but there are some ways to stop them from taking over your inbox. Clark wants you to remember not to click on any suspicious links.
Before you mass unsubscribe from promotional emails, read them carefully so as not to get rid of important correspondence you may need.
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