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Spam - A series of Articles

Perhaps 75% of the e-mail we now receive is junk mail, with special offers, investor tips, offers for medications, and the like.

First Article
See also

This is a series of articles concerning unsolicited commercial e-mail (UCE), commonly called "spam". We hope it will be of use to you, and that some of the information we impart will help you avoid becoming the object of a scam. New articles are being added so be sure to check back with us from time to time.

  • Click the page number on the menu at the top and bottom of each page to go to an article.
  • Click "Next" to read the go to the next article.
  • Click "Intro" to return to this menu.
  • Click here for descriptions of some types of scams and related articles.
Page Article Title Description
1 What is spam?

A basic description of what spam is and why it is a problem.

2 What can I do about spam? How to avoid getting on mailing lists.
3 Reporting spam Learn how to forward a spam message to the proper authorities.
4 A typical spam Study a typical spam message to see how it works.
5 The PayPal "Phishing" scam If you replied to this message your credit card, and your identity, could be at risk.
6 Another Phishing scam This scam assumes you have read the warnings about giving out your passwords and distorts the truth in an effort to gain your trust.
7 A freebee - but beware! A seemingly innocent and "fun" product could hijack your browser and maybe some personal information.
8 A phishing scam using scare tactics A scare tactic intended to pry personal information from you.
9 A letter from Microsoft? Microsoft is concerned about the security of Windows. But are they so concerned they would send you a personal note about it?
10 A letter from our hosting company? Imagine our surprise when our e-mail administrator advised us that our account had a problem. We are our own e-mail adminstrator!
11 A cure for spam? We opened a spam message and found a wonderful offer for (you guessed it) a service for eliminating spam.
12 More phishing tricks We received similar letters from US Bank and PayPal on the same day. Both are phishing scams seeking personal information.
13 A super deal ? You can buy software on line at incredibly low prices. Is this a good deal? We think not. After all, "incredible" really means "not credible".
14 You have won! You would not open an e-mail with a title like this, would you? Or would you? What if you had been pre-conditioned first? This is rather sneaky.
15 A Marketing Ploy? What do you do when you are told you are paying for a service you did not ask for, or being dunned for a service you thought you had dropped?
16 A Post Card? Or Trouble? This postcard may come from Pandora's mailbox. You do not want to check it out.
17 Warning notices - More phishing An important-looking notice could cause you some real grief if you are not careful.
18 A Question From a Friend? Why would someone use a complicated service to aske you a question? Chances are they did not know they did.
19 A Big Mistake? Did Google really make a mistake so terrible that they will pay people $500 to help them correct it?
Additional Resources
Read Advertising & Spyware Learn how advertisers can load destructive software onto your computer.
Read The Chain Letter See how a chain letter allows the harvest of hundreds of e-mail addresses.
Read The Greeting Card Learn how certain types of greeting cards can send your every keystroke to a marketing company.
Read Software Resources Download software for eliminating spyware and adware.

Stop Spam

Learn how to read message headers and track down the senders of messages.

Fight spam on the Internet

This site has been fighting spam since 1996.
Visit SpamCon Foundation Another organization fighting spam.
Visit Cauce The Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email.
Visit Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Information from the FTC concerning identity theft.

There are a number of scams on the Internet. Many of these, but not all of these, will be implemented through spam. Some current types of scams are listed below, along with links to our articles.

Chain Letters

These seemingly innocent letters can be used to harvest thousands of valid e-mail addresses, often along with phone numbers, job titles, etc.

Phishing A letter appearing to be from a trusted source tricks people into furnishing personal information. This can involve a form "overlaid" on a valid Web page. This type of identity theft could make your life rather difficult for the next 3-5 years.
Pharming A known Website is "hijacked" through hi-tech trickery so that some visitors are taken to a bogus site, where the personal information they furnish is used for identity theft. This is an emerging problem.
Cash-up-front scams, i.e. the Nigerian scam

A letter tells of great wealth to be had, or someone will offer to buy a high value item you offered for sale, or you may be offered a loan on very favorable terms. In almost every case you will be required to furnish money up front. You may be sent a certified check as part of the process, but it will be bogus.

Scare tactics You receive an official looking letter that advises your charge card has been used improperly, or you have purchased something illegal, or you have been the victim of a scam. This is another way identify theft is conducted.
Free software You are offered free software. The offer mentions things like spyware and scams and promises not to do any of those. It does not mention, however, that you are going to install an extra package that is nefarious, and that you can't remove. All of that is buried in the legalese of the license.

First Article
See also