Eliminate Junk E-Mail to Minimize Waste

They say that, in life, there are two things that are certain death and taxes. I have an addendum of my own. I say that, in life, there are three things that are certain death, taxes and junk e-mail.

I don't know about you, but I have a feeling you probably agree with me I am so tired of junk e-mail! Offers for Viagra, get-rich-quick-schemes and porn flood my e-mailbox on a daily basis. It is driving me up the wall, and it's a waste of my time, energies and money.
Money? Yes, money. I figure I spend an average of at least 10 minutes per day getting rid of my junk e-mail, which is a lot longer than it takes me to wade through the junk mail that arrives via Uncle Sam.

Let's say that you have five people in your kitchen and bath firm, and each of them spends 10 minutes per day getting rid of their junk e-mail (otherwise known as "spam"). That comes to 50 minutes per day wasted due to your company getting rid of spam. Per week, it equals four hours and 10 minutes. Per year, you have a whopping total of just over 218 hours, which, broken down by a 40-hour work week, means that you are basically paying one person in your company to work for five weeks per year to get rid of your company's junk e-mail.

I'd rather spend those five weeks on a ski vacation.

Money Matters
The bad news is that this is not the only way the whole spam thing is costing you money. Spam actually increases the amount it costs you to connect to the Internet. Unlike with junk mail that arrives in your snail mailbox, there is very little overhead cost for the spammer. Yet, the junk e-mail sent by these guys takes up the space of the Internet Service Providers (ISPs)which you use to access the Internetcausing them an increased workloadwhich necessitates larger servers, technical problems and the need to employ people in their company to go after these guys when their customers report them.

How big of a problem has spam become? Even the government is involved! They consider junk e-mail a serious problem. Why? Because it shakes consumer confidence in the Internet and makes offers that are just too good to be true.

I spoke with Brian Huseman, a staff attorney with the Federal Trade Commission, the government agency tackling the spam problem. He told me that the FTC has set up an e-mailbox you can send your spam to, in order to help bust these guys (uce@ftc.gov).

According to Huseman, the FTC receives 50,000 unsolicited commercial e-mails PER DAY through uce@ftc.gov! Since the organization set up that e-mailbox in 1998, the FTC has received over 16-1/2 million pieces of junk e-mail forwarded to it by consumers assisting in the "spam battle."

Battling Spam
At this point, you're probably wondering how these spammers get your e-mail address(es), and just how you can combat spam.

Spammers gather e-mail addresses in a number of ways. Buying e-mail lists from companies is a popular way spammers gather "their victims," as well as searching out e-mail addresses from registering agencies. A registering agency is where you go to sign up for your dotcom address. The spammers know that these addresses are normally kept up to date for use as contact info. Hence, that makes them a good source.

Also, there are spidering programs that go through Web sites and scrape e-mail addresses from these in order to build their lists. Anytime, anywhere there is a public listing of e-mail addresses, spammers "harvest" this information to build their lists. There are even programs they build to come up with common e-mail addresses, in order to send you junk mail. For example, they can pretty much bank on the fact that there is a MaryA@aol.com, a MaryB@aol.com, a MaryC@aol.com and so on. These addresses are likely to receive a greater amount of junk e-mail than an e-mail address like MryCa@aol.com. There are even programs in which they can harvest e-mail addresses around your personal and business interests.

When you receive spam, what can you do to combat it?

1. As I mentioned before, forward your junk e-mail to the FTC. Again, its e-mail address is: uce@ftc.gov. The "uce" stands for unsolicited commercial e-mail. Huseman told me that the commission set up the e-mail address before it had permission from Hormel to use their trademarked "Spam!"

2. If it is a free e-mail account from a large company, such as hotmail.com, forward the suspected spam to the postmaster of that company, ie: postmaster@hotmail.com. These larger companies are more likely to be able to track down the spammers and perhaps even block them from sending more spam to you and others using hotmail.

3. The debate over "REMOVE." With many junk e-mails, you are given the option of going to the bottom of the junk e-mail message and clicking on "REMOVE" or "Remove my e-mail address from this mailing list." Huseman told me that the FTC did a "Remove" study.
It is believed by many that if you click on "Remove me," this just confirms to the spammer that your e-mail address is hot and you are, in fact, receiving and paying attention to their e-mail. Huseman said that the FTC tested 215 spam e-mail "Removes." When the "Remove" at the bottom of the e-mail was clicked during this "test," it was found that 63% of the remove links were actually dead. That means that your request to unsubscribe was not able to be sent through. When that happens, you have reason to send that spam to uce@ftc.gov, as it violates the Federal Trade Commission Act. The FTC "Remove Me Surfers" reported to the FTC that they did not receive additional spam (from that spammer) when their request was put through to be removed from the spammer's list.

Believe me, this article is just brushing the surface of this subject. Unfortunately, there is so much to cover. While in this article we discussed how to combat spam, in my next article, I am going to give you information about how to avoid getting on the spammers' lists to begin with, as well as provide you with the names and Web sites of some companies that assist in filtering spam out of our e-mailboxes.