The sad truth is, many otherwise legitimate companies “share” customer email lists with other companies, who sell them to even more companies, who sell them to spammers, who sell them to even more spammers, who sell them to criminals.
Unscrupulous employees also steal email lists and sell them to spammers. An AOL employee was once busted for stealing and selling 92 million email addresses to spammers. Unfortunately, that’s the way that the email spam game is played, and all of the stupid “CAN-SPAM” legislation in the world hasn’t made the situation any better.
Experts estimate that at least 95 percent of all email received in North America is spam, leaving Internet service providers struggling to come up with ways of combating this flood of garbage. This sorry state of affairs means that the real fight against spam is left largely up to you, the end user. If you’re having a problem with spam, there are many potential solutions, divided into two distinct groups: use an email service that employs antispam filtering, or install an antispam program on your computer.
I currently have three email addresses that I use regularly. Two of the addresses, one of which is my “spam catcher,” are set up using Google’s Gmail service (mail.google.com). Gmail uses a pretty good spam-filtering scheme, but, like all spam filters, it has to be trained. This chore is easy to perform; when a spam message comes in, I simply tag it as spam and move on. After a while, the program learns which messages are spam and files them accordingly.
Every now and then a spam message will sneak through, which I simply tag as spam, and the program gets “smarter.” I check the contents of the spam box every few days, because legitimate email will sometimes be tagged as spam. Tagging these messages as being good trains the program to do an even better job. My spam catcher address tags and rejects over 70 spam messages every day.