10 January 2014
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Q. I get lots of unwanted emails from companies, offering me this and that. Usually I have done some business with them in the past, but they are cluttering up my inbox. Help please.

A. I was surprised recently to learn that people were unaware of the origin of the word 'spam' for junk email. It comes from the famous Monty Python 'Spam' sketch, do a YouTube search if you want a giggle. Giggles aside, spam is a major problem. Here are some approaches to consider, prevention being better than cure:

  • When you purchase services in the real world and they ask for your contact details, for example when staying in a hotel or purchasing motor insurance, ask them not to send you marketing or promotional texts or emails.
  • Establish a 'disposable' email address for online purchases, for example omahony_spam@gmail.com. Don't use this email for personal or business use, but have a quick look at it every now and then to make sure there is nothing important in it.
  • If you use a webmail service such as Gmail, Outlook or Yahoo, there are ways to flag that an email is junk or SPAM and then it won't appear in your inbox.
  • If you believe an unwanted email is from a reliable company and you have a physical address for that company, then click the unsubscribe link in the mass mailing. Don't do this if you don't know the company as spammers use this unsubscribe link to harvest active email addresses.
  • If you use email software on your computer, then flag messages as junk mail and let the software manage them
    in the future
  • Watch out for check-boxes on online forms that indicate whether you wish to receive promotional emails or newsletters
  • Don't reply to spam emails.
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