Dealing with, and protecting yourself from, spam is vital. As well as being annoying, spam can contain links to malicious software or fraudulent content that costs you money and time.
You can protect yourself from receiving unsolicited commercial electronic messages — spam. Check out these tips as well as Protect Yourself Online to keep yourself safe and secure online:
Protect your mobile phone number
Be careful when disclosing your mobile phone number. Look for options, such as tick boxes, that allow you to ‘opt-out’ of commercial messages.
Protect your email address
Spammers automatically collect (‘harvest’) email addresses from the internet. This can happen when you list your email on a website, register a domain name, post a message to a mailing list or when you contribute to an internet chat room.
- Avoid giving out your email address where possible.
- If you do provide your email address, look for options (such as ‘tick boxes’) that indicate you do not want to receive further information or offers. Similarly, look out for automatically selected tick boxes, that indicate you agree to receive further information.
- Check an organisation's terms and conditions and privacy and consent policies before disclosing personal information to ensure the information will not be passed on to other parties.
- Use separate email addresses for different purposes, such as a personal 'friends and family' email address — this might help you sort and prioritise your email.
Spammers also send out bulk emails to random addresses in the hope of hooking a genuine recipient — a tactic known as 'dictionary attacks'. If you are spammed, you have several options:
- Delete suspicious emails without opening or replying to them.
- If the source seems genuine, contact the business to make a complaint.
- Make a complaint to the ACMA.
Protect your email address on your own website
If you want to post your contact details on your website, but don't want to receive spam as a result:
- Give a non-personal email address, such as: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com followed by a statement that commercial messages are not wanted.
- Use a web-based form for visitors. When a visitor submits the form, you’ll receive an email and you can reply. These forms defeat spammers’ automated mailing systems.
- Write your email address in a way that is harder to harvest. For example, post it as an image or replace symbols with text (e.g. ‘my-name at example dot com’).
- Provide a landline number and use an answering machine or service to provide your other contact details.
Use a spam filter
A spam filter is a type of software that sorts incoming email messages and blocks those that appear to be spam. Filtering is very useful, but not perfect. Sometimes filters fail to identify spam or they mistakenly block genuine (non-spam) messages. You can choose to direct your spam to a ‘spam folder’, rather than automatically blocking it, so you can search for any genuine messages that may have been mistaken for spam.
Your internet service provider (ISP) or web-based email provider may offer a free spam filtering service or setting. If not, you can buy spam filtering software from computer shops.
Don’t become an ‘accidental spammer’
If you don’t have good security measures in place, spammers can take over your computer and use it to send spam to other people without your knowledge.
Where can I find out more about spam?
For more information about spam, visit spam FAQ.