Most of this is a re-post of advice I gave in 2008 about how to reduce SPAM. It is also important today to note that SPAM has not gone away but that many have learned to follow the advice of the experts which I have included below and add the following information on the state of SPAM in 2011:
Email addresses are dispensable – when you find you’re getting too much spam get a new one.
You asked – Here are your QNA’s:
Q1: Is a single email address–one you use for ‘official business’ (your employer, home banking, investments, etc.), for friends and family and for Internet browsing–ok to use? What are the risks? The benefits? Can you explain, for everyone in the family, why having more than one email address is optimal?
A1) Using one email address for all your communications can lead to SPAM overload and may compromise your privacy and security. My first suggestion is that we all view this informative video from our security friends at Microsoft by clicking the link below:
Believe it or not, Microsoft and it’s email services, Hotmail, MSN, and now Windows Live, are at the forefront of technology when it comes to blocking SPAM. I recommend Windows Live Mail, a free email client service from Microsoft, that I personally use and get almost no SPAM through. Microsoft’s email servers do the work by filtering out SPAM. They cannot catch it all, but they do a much better job than most.
Now, as for the use of multiple email addresses…You have watched the video already, right? If not please do so now.
SPAMMERS get your email address most often when you enter it into a web page to sign up for some web service. Secure sites, like your bank, are typically not going to share your email address. Many others will, in fact if you read the small print as you sign up for many of the web based services, they state clearly that by accepting this agreement you agree to their privacy terms. Quite often they implicitly inform you that they may share your email address (and other data). Some implicitly say they will not. It is important to always understand what you are agreeing to. Legally, these agreements are binding and remove any responsibility on the part of the web provider.
The best way to stop SPAMMERS from getting your primary email address is to simply never ever give it to them. I use one email address for family, one for sites I have some reason to trust, and one for those that may not have my trust. By never giving your primary email address to anyone but only your most trusted friends, family, business associates, etc., you can feel safer using that email address daily. When reading email from the email address that you use for some sites you may have some reason to trust, use caution when reading any emails. Follow the advise in the video. As for the email address used for sites you have no reason to trust, just ignore the emails, i.e., never even open them. The one exception to this rule is when you have to receive an email from a site that grants you login rights by following a link. If you ever do this, you are then trusting this website with your email address (and also any other data given in any online forms).
When SPAMMERS do get your primary email address and you are getting much SPAM, I strongly suggest you change your primary email address (to a new email address) and delete the old account. Unfortunately, many people do not follow safe surfing and email rules and download malware that may infiltrate their contact lists and send their email contacts’ addresses to a SPAMMER. If this happens, and your email address was in their list, your email address has been compromised and needs to be changed.
A) Always follow safe email rules.
B) Use multiple email addresses and never give your primary email address to any site or person unless you have full faith in them.
C) Use an email address other than your main one anytime you need to communicate online with a website that may share your email address or does not have your full trust.
And one last tip. Let’s say you now have three or more email addresses in use. Use your real full name for the primary email you will use only for fully trusted communications. Use an abbreviated form of your name that is slightly different for each of the others (or a name like John Quack Doe). When each one has a slightly different name attached to it, you may be able to figure out later who is sharing your information, and this may help the authorities to crack down on SPAMMERS or sites that use your data inappropriately.
I hope this helps!