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Hello friends, family, and perfect strangers! The following is an essential "how to" for using email responsibly, and for combating those who refuse to. I hope you find this information helpful and informative.  I encourage you to send this link to anyone that you think would benefit from this information.  And if you have anything to add, just let me know!

In Lesson #1, we cover SPAM: What is it? Who are these people, and how did they get my email address? How can I prevent myself from ending up on their lists?

In Lesson#2, we will be covering what to do, and what not to do, when we are the recipient of SPAM.
This is your guide to tracking down information about your spammer, and what to do with that information.

In Lesson#3, we cover email hoaxes and how to identify them. This section will help you to prevent yourself from looking foolish, as well as avoid causing harm to others inadvertently.

   

okay, lesson #1:  SPAM.  Not just a hilarious skit by Monty Python, SPAM is any kind of unsolicited email, whether it's 6 emails a day from companies you've never heard of, or forwards from well-meaning friends. SPAM is versatile. It can take a variety of different forms, including but not limited to MLM schemes, chain-letters, jokes, myths, virus scares, invitations to join clubs or other organizations, solicitations for donations, mythical children with fictitious diseases that supposedly want prayers/business cards/emails/other objects, people who want to sell you "banned" CDs, name brand products at unbelievable discounts, spy software.. the list goes on and on and on.

How do spammers get my email address?
Many people just don't realize that by forwarding stuff to you and 30 million other people, they're placing your email address, as well as theirs, on mailing lists. A particularly annoying manifestation of SPAM messages is the chain letter, which threatens bad luck to those who do not forward it, or good luck if you forward it to a million people. For some reason, people feel the need to leave all of the previous senders' and recipients' email addresses in the body of the message, perhaps to prove that they have good luck coming to them because they spammed so many people. By the time a message has been forwarded 20 times, there are upwards of 200 email addresses included. This is a spammers' delight. Eventually, this will make its' way to someone who wants to sell you something, and each email address will be added to his list of potential customers. Spammers tend to work together, too. They often compile a list of 10,000 or more email addresses, and then sell or trade their lists with other spammers.

Other spammers create "bots" that scan web pages and strip email addresses off of them. These bots do not discriminate. Whether you have a web page with a "contact me" link, or have signed someone else's guestbook and included your email address, the bot will find it and index it. One thing you can do to combat this is include nonsense characters in the address to "confuse" the bot. For example.. one of my email addresses is ih8spammers@yahoo.com. I could write it as ih8spammers*<&nospam;>@yahoo.nospam.com instead, and leave a text note below it that says "remove *<&nospam;> and nospam to email me". A real person could read this and follow the directions. A bot, however, is a dummy program that will simply save the address as ih8spammers*<&nospam;>@yahoo.nospam.com. When the spammer tries to send me email at that address, it will come back undeliverable. If enough people employ this method, it can seriously inconvenience the spammer. I wonder if they like digging through hundreds of useless messages?

There are also spammers that use other peoples' mail servers illegally to obtain addresses. This method is a bit more complicated to go into, but basically, each mail server has something called a "mailer daemon" that is responsible for keeping lists of users. If the mail relay is open, (most are not) and you know the right commands, you can query the daemon and ask for a list of all users whose email addresses start with "a" or another letter. If you've ever received SPAM that was addressed to 50 users whose email addresses all started with the same letter(s) then this was most likely the method used. If you belong to any mailing lists, you might be targeted this way.

There are other ways that your email address can be obtained, but those listed above are the most common methods used.

--------------------------------------------------

A word about Forwards
When you feel you absolutely must forward something, ALWAYS delete all of the annoying '>>>>>' characters that appear before each line of the message. PLEASE. Also, always delete the previous senders' and recipients' email addresses. The more things  get forwarded, the messier and harder to read everything gets. Unless you're trying to make enemies, never send a forward that hasn't been cleaned up first. (see the sample forward message after the FAQ).  As we learned in the first lesson, by leaving 150 email addresses attached to the mail, you risk getting each and every one of them put on a mailing list. Your email address will be sold to other spammers, who will sell it to still more Spammers. Then, before you even know what hit you, your mailbox will be flooded with pyramid schemes and other useless junk.


In Closing
SPAM is harmful not only because it wastes your time, but it ends up costing you money as well. For every SPAM message you receive, anywhere from 5 to 5 million others have been sent. When the Internet Service Provider (ISP) has it's mail servers bogged down with those messages, it must save them on it's computers. If the message volume is large enough, it is forced to spend money to buy more bandwidth, more hard drives, more computer equipment, more phone line access, etc. This cost is passed on to the people who use their services. Usually, ISP's are not making very much of a profit to begin with, and if the increased service rates drive the customers away, it might well drive the ISP straight out of business. There is a complete FAQ available on this subject at http://www.cauce.org.

lesson #2: why not to reply to SPAM, send threatening email, or make angry phone calls to the spammers: Most spammers have a "reply and get removed from the list" email address at the end of their message. They don't really want to take you off their list at all. Nine out of ten times, the unsubscribe link is either completely invalid, or it just confirms to them that a real live person is reading their mail. To a spammer, this means that it's not only okay to send you more SPAM, but also to sell your address to other spammers.  This is frustrating. Another thing to keep in mind is that in most cases, when confronted, spammers' are not apologetic. They know that what they're doing is wrong. They know that it's annoying. They simply don't care. For every 500 people they annoy, there are 10-20 suckers who buy their product. Do the math. since they are sending their SPAM at someone else's expense, at no cost to themselves whatsoever, they've just made a tidy profit.

What is the appropriate method to fight SPAM?.
The best thing to do, if your email software has the option, is to filter your mail, or block the spammers' email address. For example, in Microsoft Outlook Express 5.5, there is an option to block email addresses. By clicking on the TOOLS --> MESSAGE RULES --> BLOCKED SENDERS LIST menu, you can specify email addresses that you don't want to receive email from. Any mail that does come from those addresses will be immediately moved to the trash bin, where you can delete them without opening them. Or, if you want to block email that contains certain key words, open the TOOLS-->MESSAGE RULES-->MAIL folder. Here, you can specify certain words, phrases, etc. to block. You can also specify what you would like done with them. You can have them moved to the deleted items bin, to a specific folder of your choice, or just outright deleted. Most mail programs come with similar features. If you need help finding them, simply open your email browser, open the HELP menu on the toolbar, and go from there. Even free email like yahoo mail (www.yahoo.com)offers filtering and blocking services. One of my favorite solutions has been to make a "throwaway" email address. Whenever I am downloading software or signing up for anything online and am required to give an email address, I give the throwaway address out, taking special care to checkmark "do not send me any offers through email" or similar option. Once a week, I check my email and report the SPAM to the appropriate places.

If you really want to hurt spammers, look up the ISP or web hosting company that hosts their email account. (for example, go to www.internic.net and use the "whois" feature. Enter the domain name that hosts the spammers' email, or any of the websites advertised in the SPAM. Look up the contact information for the hosting company, and email their abuse desk, usually abuse@insertcompanynamehere.com. When doing this, be sure to include full message headers for the SPAM you have received. If you are unsure of how to do this, read the FAQ at http://www.emailabuse.org/sender.asp for more information. When you report SPAM, the company hosting the spammer will usually warn them, suspend them, or shut their accounts down altogether depending on the severity and frequency of the reports they receive.

You can also go to www.spamcop.net and sign up for a free account. They offer a variety of different services, ranging from a quick, painless way to report SPAM, to SPAM-free, filtered email addresses for a nominal fee.

RESOURCES


Here are a few links to sites that offer in depth information on fighting SPAM.

www.cauce.org
www.samspade.org
www.emailabuse.org
combat.uxn.com
www.spamcop.net
www.spamcop.com
www.spamcop.org
www.suespammers.org

lesson #3:  Don't buy everything you read.  Emails such as "coke, bill gates, etc. will send you and everyone you forward this to a free case of coke, a million dollars, etc." and "By holding a "gas out" we can make the evil oil cartel lower their prices by hitting them in the pocketbook" are what we call Urban Myths.  The truth is, someone was playing a joke on coca cola, and on Bill Gates, and a Gas Out will accomplish nothing, save possibly hurting smaller gas stations that have absolutely nothing to do with setting the oil prices. There is a great website that details most of the internet myths located at http://www.snopes.com/index.html. I would highly recommend that before forwarding something, you look it up on his web site and find out if it's really anything that you want to sign your name to. There is alot of misinformation out there, and SPAM/forwards that are genuinely hurtful get forwarded every day by well-meaning people who get taken in by tricks and scams. One example is a message sent claiming to be from the "Make-A-Wish Foundation". This email claims that a dying child wants business cards from around the world so that he can be in the Guinness Book of World Records. One family was forced to abandon their house when it became flooded with mail. Their son, who had recovered from cancer 17 years ago, was still receiving cards from around the world. The house was made into it's own postal code, and the cards are still pouring in. I have received several copies of this chain letter in my inbox in the last few years. In addition to harming the family, the nonprofit Make-A-Wish Foundation is forced to field thousands of calls and emails a year about this hoax, taking valuable time away from the very important volunteer work they do. This is just one example of many, illustrating just a small portion of the suffering caused by these hoaxes.

The moral of the story? The internet is a wonderful place, full of amazing, helpful, and fascinating information.  Have fun with it, but please be responsible! Don't clog the internet up with useless, harmful stuff. It only wastes time and energy that could be used in better endeavors.

Jessie

THIS IS A REAL EXAMPLE OF SPAM. Notice that it has been forwarded over 10 times and, in the process, has "mushroomed" into a jumbled mess. The original message has become almost totally unreadable, not to mention virtually un-findable. This is for informational purposes only. Coke never has, and never will, run a promotion like the one described below. I'm reasonably sure that by posting this, I have not violated any copyright laws.

===========================
 

----- Original Message -----
From: omitted <omitted@omitted.com>
To: <omitted@omitted.com>; <omitted@omitted.com>; <omitted@omitted.com>; <omitted@omitted.com>; <omitted@omitted.com>; <omitted@omitted.com>; <omitted@omitted.com>; <omitted@omitted.com>
Sent: Monday, March 13, 2000 7:47 AM
Subject: Fwd: Fw: Fwd: FREE COKE
 

>
>
> >From: omitted <omitted@omitted.com>
> >To:omitted@omitted.com
> >Subject: Fwd: Fw: Fwd: FREE COKE
> >Date: Sun, 12 Mar 2000 18:03:55 -0600
> >
> > >X-From_: omitted@omitted.com Sat Mar 11 17:23:33 2000
> > >Envelope-to: omitted@omitted.com
> > >X-Originating-IP: [omitted]
> > >From: "Bonnie" <omitted@omitted.com>
> > >To: omitted@omitted.com
> > >Subject: Fwd: Fw: Fwd: FREE COKE
> > >Date: Sat, 11 Mar 2000 17:23:16 CST
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >>From: "Shyann" <omitted@omitted.com>
> > >>To: "bonnie" <omitted@omitted.com>
> > >>Subject: Fw: Fwd: FREE COKE
> > >>Date: Wed, 8 Mar 2000 19:11:10 -0600
> > >>
> > >>
> > >>-----Original Message-----
> > >>From: omitted@omitted.com<omitted@omitted.com>
> > >>To: Tracy <omitted@omitted.com>; Tom <omitted@omitted.comv>;
> >Tom
> > >><omitted@omitted.com>; Ted <omitted@omitted.com>; Tami and Larry
> > >><omitted@omitted.com>; Sweetcrzy<omitted@omitted.com>; Steve
> > >><omitted@omitted.com>; Steve C. <omitted@omitted.com>;
> >Steve
> > >><omitted@omitted.com>; Shyann<omitted@omitted.com>; Shadd
> > >><omitted@omitted.com>; Sarah <omitted@omitted.com>; robyn
> > >><omitted@omitted.com>; Pat <omitted@omitted.com>; Nikki
> >
> > >><omitted@omitted.com>; Mike and Michele
> ><omitted@omitted.com>;
> > >>Michele <omitted@omitted.com>; Mary <omitted@omitted.com>;
> > >>Linda
> > >><omitted@omitted.com>; Leanne <omitted@omitted.com>; Kent
> > >><omitted@omitted.com>; John and David
> ><omitted@omitted.com>;
> > >>Jim and Judy <omitted@omitted.com>; Jay
> > >><omitted@omitted.com>; Jackie <omitted@omitted.com>; Jack
> > >>and
> > >>Becky <omitted@omitted.com>; Gumby
> ><omitted@omitted.com>;
> > >>Firstbase <omitted@omitted.com>; Don and Faye
> > >><omitted@omitted.com>;
> > >>Diane <omitted@omitted.com>; Deb <omitted@omitted.com>; David
> > >><omitted@omitted.com>; Dave <omitted@omitted.com>; Craig
> > >><omitted@omitted.com>; Chuck <omitted@omitted.com>; Chris
> > >><omitted@omitted.com>; Cakelady <omitted@omitted.com>; Brenda
> > >><omitted@omitted.com>; Anthony <omitted@omitted.com>
> > >>Date: Tuesday, March 07, 2000 6:54 AM
> > >>Subject: Fw: Fwd: FREE COKE
> > >>
> > >>
> > >> >
> > >> >-----Original Message-----
> > >> >From: Paula <omitted@omitted.com>
> > >> >To: Kim <omitted@omitted.com>
> > >> >Cc: Vicki <omitted@omitted.com>; karen
> > >> ><omitted@omitted.com>; Jodi <omitted@omitted.com>; LAURIE K
> > >> ><omitted@omitted.com>; Diane L. <omitted@omitted.com>; Laura
> > >> ><omitted@omitted.com>; Lisa <omitted@omitted.com>; Loni
> > >> ><omitted@omitted.com>; Becky m <omitted@omitted.com>; omitted
> > >> ><omitted@omitted.com>; M <omitted@omitted.com>; omitted
> > >> ><omitted@omitted.com>; sam <omitted@omitted.com>; omitted
> > >> ><omitted@omitted.com>; sniffles <omitted@omitted.com>; Terri
> > >> ><omitted@omitted.com>; Tamie <omitted@omitted.com>; brenda
> > >> ><omitted@omitted.com>; Tamara . <omitted@omitted.com>;
> > >>omitted
> > >> ><omitted@omitted.com>; omitted<omitted@omitted.com>; bev
> > >> ><omitted@omitted.com>; Bud <omitted@omitted.com>; Carol
> > >> ><omitted@omitted.com>; CHELE <omitted@omitted.com>; cookie
> > >> ><omitted@omitted.com>; Darlene <omitted@omitted.com>; Dawn
> > >> ><omitted@omitted.com>; debby <omitted@omitted.com>; fairy
> > >> ><omitted@omitted.com>; FRAN <omitted@omitted.com>; Giddie
> > >> ><omitted@omitted.com>
> > >> >Date: Tuesday, March 07, 2000 4:28 AM
> > >> >Subject: Re: Fwd: FREE COKE
> > >> >
> > >> >
> > >> >>Where's my COKE ???
> > >> >>What a ProMo !!!!
> > >> >>
> > >> >>Kim Zimmerman wrote:
> > >> >>
> > >> >>> Note: forwarded message attached.
> > >> >>>
> > >> >>> __________________________________________________
> > >> >>> Do You Yahoo!?
> > >> >>> Talk to your friends online with Yahoo! Messenger.
> > >> >>> http://im.yahoo.com
> > >> >>>
> > >> >>>
> > >>----------------------------------------------------------------------
> > >>-
> > >> >-
> > >> >>>
> > >> >>> Subject: FREE COKE
> > >> >>> Date: Mon, 06 Mar 2000 15:56:19 CST
> > >> >>> From: "Judy " <omitted@omitted.com>
> > >> >>> To: omitted@omitted.com, omitted@omitted.com,
> > >>omitted@omitted.com,
> > >> >>>      omitted@omitted.com, omitted@omitted.com, omitted@omitted.com,
> > >> >>>      omitted@omitted.com, omitted@omitted.com,
> > >> >omitted@omitted.com,
> > >> >>>      omitted@omitted.com, omitted@omitted.com,
> >omitted@omitted.com,
> > >> >>>      omitted@omitted.com, omitted@omitted.com,
> > >>omitted@omitted.com,
> > >> >>>      omitted@omitted.com, omitted@omitted.com, omitted@omitted.comm,
> > >> >>>      omitted@omitted.com, omitted@omitted.com,
> >omitted@omitted.com,
> > >> >>>      omitted@omitted.com, omitted@omitted.com,
> > >>omitted@omitted.com,
> > >> >>>     omitted@omitted.com
> > >> >>>
> > >> >>> Yeah right, like i believe this  lol
> > >> >>>
> > >> >>> >> > >>>> Subject: FREE COCA COLA FOR A MONTH
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>>
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>>
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>>  Coca-Cola is offering four free cases of
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> diet
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> coke
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> or
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> regular
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> coke
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> to
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> every
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> person you send this to.  When you have
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> finished
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> sending
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> this
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> e-mail
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> to
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> as
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> many people as you wish, a screen will come
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> up.
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> It
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> will
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> then
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> ask
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> >where
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> you
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> > want your free coke products sent. This is a
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> sales
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> promotion
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>>  to
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> get
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> our
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> name
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>>  out to young people around the world.  We
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> believe
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> this
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>>  project
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> can
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>>  be
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> a
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> success, but only with your help. So please
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> start
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> e-mailing
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> and
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> help
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> us
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> build our database. Thank you for your
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> support!
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>>
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>>  Always Coca-Cola,
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>>
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> Mike Hill
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> Director of Marketing
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> Coca-Cola Corporation
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> Atlanta, Georgia
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>> www.cocacola.com
> > >> >>> >> >> > >>>>
> > >> >>> >>
> > >> >>> ______________________________________________________
> > >> >>> Get Your Private, Free Email at http://www.hotmail.com
> > >> >>
> > >> >
> > >>
> > >
> > >______________________________________________________
> > >Get Your Private, Free Email at http://www.hotmail.com
> > >
> > >
> > >
>
> ______________________________________________________
> Get Your Private, Free Email at http://www.hotmail.com
>

   
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