Elderly Computer Users – Jargon Buster #1 -What is Spam and How Do I Avoid It?


Email SPAM

Put simply, spam is jargon for unsolicited email.  It is essentially junk email.  Most spam are advertisements where the advertiser wants you to click on a link which will lead you to a spot to purchase their product.  The reason spam works is that it really cheap to send an email.  Spammers, those who send spam, can send millions of emails a day.

Email Spam

Even if only one thousand out of a million people click on their link, spammers can make money.  Most spam relates to poor business, so I wouldn’t recommend opening it.  It is just a waste of time and could pose a security risk.

So if you don’t want SPAM, how can  you avoid it?

 Avoiding Spam

Here are several tips you can use to avoid Spam:

  1. Don’t post your email on public website sites or forums -  Spammers have programs which hunt the Internet for email address to include in their lists.  If you keep your email out of the public eye, you reduce the chance you’ll be included on one of these lists.
  2. Use Spam blocking tools –  Most email providers, such as Comcast or Gmail have spam blocking and email filtering features which scan and separate out spam from your legitimate email.
  3. Don’t open emails from people or businesses you don’t know - Just like you throw away your “real” junk mail, toss in the trash or delete your junk email.  Believe it or not, a spammer can sometimes detect that you opened their email.
  4. Disable the automatic downloading of graphics in email - Many spammers send email with a linked graphic file that is then used to track who opens the mail message—when your mail client downloads the graphic from their web server, they know you’ve opened the message.  Microsoft Office disables this by default.  If you are unsure about your email program, send us an email.  We can help your find out what to do.

What to Do If you Get Spam?

If you find you have spam in your email inbox, just delete it.  If you are suspicious, you’re better off trashing the email.  I wouldn’t recommend opening it.  Better to be safe than to be sorry.

If you wish, you can report spam in the United States to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  Just forward the spam email to spam@uce.gov.


As always, if you have a question write a comment and we will answer it.  Don’t forget to Sign up for our newsletter to receive regular updates and tips.

Previous post:

Next post: