Sunday, April 5, 2020

How to Avoid SPAM Email

STOP SPAM!


Here is how to avoid giving your email address to a website that might not stop sending you follow-up, "unsolicited" email. (That's also known as SPAM.)

The Problem


A frustrating practice is that a website will offer you something that you are curious about, but you haven't decided whether you want to have a long-term relationship with that company.

So, they ask for your email address before they give you access to something, whether that something is a TV show or a free PDF booklet. They do that to put you into their "sales funnel" and follow up with emails that contain "Hey buy this..." messages. But...

When you click on "unsubscribe" they ignore your request!


This is terrible! They have your email address and they feel entitled to solicit you on a regular basis because you have "done business with them in the past."

And, why does it take several days for your unsubscribe to take effect?

Yeah, right! 😕

Solution #1 to avoid SPAM


Some people maintain a throw-away email address to avoid this. There are two drawbacks to that:

  • People need to check that mailbox, if only infrequently
  • If the website wouldn't stop SPAMMING your regular email, then they won't stop sending unsolicited email to here, either.


Solution #2 to avoid SPAM


This solution is the one I'm recommending! It's slightly out-of-the-box:

  • Purchase a throw-away domain name ($10/year-ish)
  • Set up forwarders to your regular email mailbox
    • Set up a different forwarder for each website (takes less than 1 minute)
    • You're talking to a computer program, so your email address doesn't have to make sense. For example: DoNotReply-001@...
  • When/If the website abuses your hospitality then delete the forwarder!
  • When/If you want to continue business with them, then you can use your real email.
A "forwarder" is also called  an "alias."

How to Implement Solution #2


First: You need to register a domain with a company that offers free forwarders... 

I recommend NameCheap for several reasons:
  1. They have really good prices!
    • For example, a dot-com domain runs under $10/year and a dot-net domain runs only a couple dollars more.
  2. The price includes free privacy protection for your domain registration information.
  3. The domain name doesn't have to make sense or be relevant. 
    • For example, I discovered that I can use my name with a dash in it somewhere: rick-jaggers.com and only-junquemail.com were available when I wrote this article.
  4. NameCheap allows up to 100 free forwarders
  5. You are NOT required to buy web hosting from NameCheap or anyone else. 
    • Your only expense is the annual cost of the domain itself
    • You can forward the URL to NameCheap's default parking page ~ remember, this is a throw-away domain and you don't really care where it goes.
    • You can forward the URL to free hosting site (such as blogger.com), but this means you must put a little more thought into selecting a domain name
You can follow this link to NameCheap's coupon page:

You can, of course, do business with any other domain company (GoDaddy?) but be sure to compare prices. The purpose of this domain is only to help you  avoid SPAM.

Next: You need to decide on a naming standard...

You want to be consistent. I personally like to use the word "reg," a period, and the website name. For example, I have the following forwarders: reg.target, reg.homedepot, reg.facebook, etc.

Or, you can build in "noreply" with the website name like this: noreply.target, noreply.homedepot, noreply.facebook

There's no reason you cannot just use sequential numbers, such as noreply-001, noreply-002, noreply-003, other than it is difficult to remember what you used for what website.

"Why?" you might ask. You're setting this up to use for years, and you want it to be both easy and understandable in December as it was in March.

Next: Decide where the email is delivered...

I have one email account that I have been using for years, and 99% of all the email addresses you see for me are eventually delivered there. I am actually very protective of that mailbox, and use it sparingly.

This means that I have only mailbox to check for the over 900 forwarders I have set up over the years. Web developers have to respond to several roles, such as postmaster, webmaster, listmaster, etc. By using forwarders I have multiple email addresses I can publish, but only one box to check. Here is an article I've written about using forwarders: ABCInc.pw/2018/01/domain-management-email-forwarders.html

Finally: Awareness...


The sender does not know your real email address unless you send it it to them.

If you send an email, then your real email address is shown in the "from" field. 

If you reply to an email, then your real email address will be used in that reply. Now they have it. It's probably OK, buy my paranoia runs deep. I'll go to their website and look for a contact form where I can enter/use the forwarder.


Summary: How To Avoid SPAM

  1. Register a throw-away domain specifically for this purpose
  2. Decide your naming conventions
    • I like using periods, the purpose and website
  3. Create forwarders all at once, or as needed
    • You can set up noreply001, noreplay002 to use in a hurry
  4. Protect your regular email mailbox

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