This is the story of how I manage to eliminate almost all of my spam.
I signed up for the eMusic http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EMusic to receive 3 free song downloads as part of a promotion. To protect myself against spam, I have used a technique that I started a few years ago that consists of setting up a unique email address for every web site that I don’t trust. This includes facebook, shutterfly, zillow, ny times, amazon, etc.. This means that I have accrued almost 60 email aliases for my personal email account and probably half that for my business email account. Basically the way it works is that I’m surfing the web, stumble on something I want to check out, join, experiment with, or buy. I go into my personal email account administration, add a new email address alias that points to my regular email account. Now I use that new email alias to sign up to the web site I need to interact with. All the confirmation emails, passwords, and such required to setup the new web account or buy a product, track shipping or whatever is now sent to the alias and I receive it along with all my regular email because an alias is just another name for my regular email account.
So for eMusic, I used firstname.lastname@example.org (where x is a number and mydomain is my domain). Then I download the 3 free songs. If I am sold on their service, I subscribe for a year. Needless to say, I wasn’t sold and didn’t subscribe.
Fast forward to today (maybe 9 months since I signed up for eMusic). I’m getting 10 spam emails a day sent to the alias I set up to use the eMusic service. Note that these are typical spam messages selling pharmaceutical drugs from Canada, and other junk which has nothing to do with eMusic except for the fact that they were sent to an email address that only eMusic knows about because it was uniquely created for them to send me email.
So, my solution to reduce spam is quite simple. Just delete the alias. This is easy in this instance because I don’t use the eMusic service anymore. It would be a little more complicated if it were facebook which i use more frequently. It wouldn’t be that bad since all I need to do is create a new email account and modify my account on facebook. But it would put to the question do I want to continue using a service that leaks my email address to spammers.
This technique not only helps me manage and reduce my spam (I have almost none), but it also identifies those evil companies that sell my private information (and yours) for a profit to the evil spammers.
Feel free to use this technique for yourself and see if it works. The only caveat is that you must do three things:
1. You must abandon your old spam riddled email address and start with a new primary email address.
2. You must never give your new email address out to anyone you don’t trust 100%. If you need to give it to a company or organization you don’t trust, create an alias for them in the form of <company_not_trusted><x>@<yourdomain>.<tld> where <company_not_trusted> is eMusic, <x> is some number, I usually use the number 1 and if I need another alias for this company I don’t trust, I’ll just use a 2, etc…
3. You must have your own domain and an email service that allows you to create unlimited aliases for our domain. Most domain hosting companies offer this for free as part of the hosting fee.
For some people, like my wife, #1 is not an option. So for her, she must go through 100 spam emails a day and delete them. Other people, like those who use gmail for personal email, #3 will be a deal breaker.
According to recent studies, 97% of email traffic today is spam. This is a huge problem. We must identify those responsible, prosecute, and eliminate them. This is one, albeit convoluted, way to reduce spam. I believe a new email system that forces senders and receivers to use some form of authentication or certificates that can be tracked will hopefully replace our archaic but simple SMTP system. Until then, happy spammer hunting.