Protect your privacy
I have found three easy steps to keep yourself from being assaulted by telemarketers, junkmail and spammers.
Telemarketers: To keep them at bay, there are two easy things.
Second, when you list your name in the whitepages, don't use your whole first name. Just your first initial. No telemarketer I've ever heard has had the balls to call asking if “S” was home.
Junkmail: Again, two key things here.
First, send a letter to the Direct Marketing Association's Preference Services. Include your address and name, then tell them clearly that you don't want to receive mail from its members. The address is:
Mail Preference Service
Direct Marketing Association
P.O. Box 9008
Farmingdale, NY 11735-9008.2
These guys also have a telephone service, and while the Do Not Call Registry encompasses it, you may want to ask these guys specifically as well.
Second, when you list your name in the whitepages, don't put an address. It is easy to use electronic whitepages to harvest addresses, protect yourself from that.
Other things I do, is make it costly to mail me. Whenever I get a prepaid envelope, I fill it with heavy bulky junk, and send it back. You can also respond directly by demanding you are removed from their mailing list if one mailer is particularly pesky. Or write companies who you do business with and request they not rent or sell your name.
Spam: Sadly, I've lost a few email addresses to spammers before I figured out these techniques. When I couldn't sift through the junk to what I wanted it was time to call it quits.
First make sure you never sign up for 'special offers' when making a login for any website. Not only will you get these offers, but likely you'll be added to a database of live email addresses and get 'special offers' from dozens of others.
Second, if a website requires an email address and you don't need email from them, give them a false email address. My favorite is firstname.lastname@example.org,3 email@example.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org. If you'd rather not do this, get a free yahoo or gmail account you don't use often and use it.
Third, setup a frontman account. What this means is get something like a gmail account that has good spam filtering, and use it for all your stuff. With gmail you can tell your account to automatically forward all non-spam to another address (you real one). This helps filter tons of spam so you don't even have to get it.
Fourth, if you must post your email address somewhere on the internet, make it so that a human needs to read it to use it. Like “joe AT yahoo DOT com” or “joe@TROUTyahoo.com minus the fish.” Posting a link, mailto:email@example.com is dangerous.
Other ideas depend on if you administer your own account or not. If you do, install something like spamassassin if you run Apache. One trick I've used very successfully, is to kill my account for a week. So any mail going there gets rejected, as if the account doesn't exist. Naturally spammers would rather not take their own volume back, it costs a lot. You'll be removed from their lists pronto.
If you don't administer your own account, try using Thunderbird rather than Outlook. Thunderbird it has great Bayesian spam filtering. Or get a yahoo or gmail account,4 both of these services have great spam detection.
One thing you shouldn't always do, is use the 'unsubscribe' link. Unless it is a reputable business (like Amazon or Apple or something, they'll work fine). If you don't know what company it is from, or it is something that sounds unsavory, don't click the link! The link will confirm that they have a live person at this email address, which makes you a much bigger target!
By using all these tricks, I've cut down my spam to less than 1 a week that shows up in my inbox and less than 10 a week that hit my spam folder. I've seen a similar decrease in mail and phone calls with these simple tricks! Enjoy!
1You can also contact the most egregious offenders directly. Credit companies seem particularly offensive, call them at 1-888-5 OPT OUT (1-888-567-8688).
2There are other places to mail with similar requests are as follows:
List Maintenance, 901 West Bond, Lincoln, NE 68521
RL Polk and Co.
List Compilation, 6400 Monroe Boulevard, Taylor, MI 48180-1814
Compilation Department, 100 Paragon Drive, Montvale, NJ 07645-4591
Donnelly Marketing Inc. Database Operations, 1235 North Avenue, Nevada, IA 50201-1419
Credit Companies are notorious for this. You can also contact them directly at these addresses:
Equifax Options, P.O. Box 740123, Atlanta, GA 30374-0123
Experian, Consumer Opt Out, P.O. Box 919, Allen, TX 75013
Trans Union LLC's Name Removal Option, P.O. Box 97328, Jackson, MS 39288-7328
4Everyone and their dog has a gmail account with tons of invites sitting around. If you somehow haven't gotten a gmail account, email me: jambarama AT gmail DOT com.