Ask The Computer Geek
By: Jeff Johnston (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Q: I get a lot of email from advertisers, how do I get rid of them? - Stephen in Brantford Ontario
A: What you are receiving is generally called Spam. Spam is any unsolicited email and it is the bane of the Internet. Generally speaking spammers are kind enough to include a way to get off their mailing lists. Don't fall for this, it is a trick, they use these forms to verify that the address they collected is indeed a valid address. Spammers take the list of verified addresses and sell them to other spammers.
Eliminating spam is considerably more difficult then one might presume. While there are countless anti-spam programs out there most of them only catch a small percentage of the incoming spam, plus there is always a fee involved. Unfortunately the only sure-fire way to eliminate all spam is to change your email address and be careful who you give your email address to. I would suggest you have two email addresses, one you use to give out to any company or anywhere on the internet, the other you use to give people you actually want to contact you. You can use your fake email address to sign up for websites that require you to have an email address, this protects your real address from spammers.
The reason you never want to use your real address on the Internet is that even if the site you are submitting your address at promises to never sell your information they might publish your email address in a forum where spammers scan for new email addresses. If you are using a fake address you can just check it for any confirmation messages or membership forms and ignore everything else. You can use the address you are already receiving spam as your fake address and just set up a new one. You could have your ISP (Internet Service Provider) change your existing address and set up a free web based address on hotmail or yahooto use as your fake address. If you use a free mail service you must make sure that you log on occasionally to keep the account active and clean out the junk, if you do not do so the account will be terminated an you may lose access to sites where you have used this fake address.
Spam is almost inevitable for anyone who surfs the web, however if you make sure you protect your address you can minimize the impact spam has on you.
http://spam.abuse.net: A great collection of anti-spam links and resources. There is also an extensive list of commercial spam filters.