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What is Spam?

Spam is flooding the Internet with many copies of the same message, in an attempt to force the message on people who would not otherwise choose to receive it. Most spam is commercial advertising, often for dubious products, get-rich-quick schemes, or quasi-legal services. Spam costs the sender very little to send -- most of the costs are paid for by the recipient or the carriers rather than by the sender.

Why am I receiving emails not addressed to me?

One of the most common ways of sending SPAM is to put one or more legitimate looking names (or email addresses known to have replied in the past) in the "TO:" field, followed by numerous addresses in the "BCC:" field which you are unable to see. This process makes the email appear more legitimate and quite often all the addresses are from within a single domain name (eg. hotkey.net.au).

This explains why the SPAM email that you received often will appear to be addressed to someone with a name or username similar to yourself, ie, your email address is in the BCC field where you cannot see it, so the email appears to be addressed to anyone else but you.

How is my email address known to spammers?

The more common ways for spammers to find your address are:

  • You may have used your address on a website for registration or to leave a comment.

  • You may have posted to a newsgroup or bulletin board, used your email address with a chat room or instant messenger application.

  • Your email address is, or very close to, a common name or word.
    eg This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

  • Your email has been randomly attacked. Spammers often utilise random generators to compile a list of possible targets.

  • An email you have sent to friends has been on forwarded by them to their friends and so forth.

  • A virus has infested your computer, or the computer of someone you know.

How do I stop spam?

As SPAM often is sent from overseas sites, we are unable to control it's content and/or availability. To further reduce SPAM we suggest you follow these steps:

  • NEVER reply to SPAM, as a reply will often lead to more SPAM being sent as the sender now knows that your account is in fact a "live" address. This often also extends to unsubscribe methods employed by spammers, so be wary of any lists you can't remember subscribing to that ask you to reply and unsubscribe.

  • Setup filtering rules within your email client to automatically move and/or delete email sent to you with undesirable content. This will remove the nuisance of deciding what to do with them later. For more info please visit this page.

  • Once you have identified the source of the SPAM (only use the header information to do this) you may wish to report it to the originating ISP. For further information on this, please refer to the various websites dedicated to the reporting of abuse, such as Abuse or SPAMCop.

  • You can also visit the ACMA's (Australian Communications & Media Authority) Spam and e- Security Information Webpage as well as report both Australian and Overseas SPAM there.

  • Be mindful as to the information you provide to web sites, especially those asking for your email address. Most legitimate web sites offer a Privacy Policy which explains how they use/share the information you provide to them. If you are providing your email address in a public forum (eg. newsgroups, bulletin boards, unknown web sites) you may wish to make your e-mail address invalid
    (eg. This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it ) - this will allow legitimate users to simply remove the NO and SPAM from the address prior and stop any unwanted e-mail from being automatically sent.

  • Signing up to newsletters, membership websites; be sure to read the fine print when ticking a check box when you are registering your email address. There can be little innocent statements like "Yes, I want to be contacted by 3rd parties concerning products I might be interested in." In most cases that check box can already be ticked and your email address will be given to a spammer.

  • You can also represent your email address if it needs to be on a website as 'username at hotkey dot net dot au', instead of the standard form, or even place a graphic image of your email address instead of the written form. Be aware that there are many image programs employed by spammers that can still decipher your email address if it is in an image format, so it is still a good idea to obscure your email address as above.

  • Using your real/primary email address anywhere on the web can put it at risk of being picked up by a spammer. There are a number of free email services you can sign up to, to use as an email across the web. Some popular free email services: GMAIL, Yahoo, Hotmail.

 
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