The crux of the matter is disclosing your email address. Some spammers get address lists from Web sites where you may have signed up for free offers, ordered something online, or entered a contest. They can also get your address from Internet white pages listings, newsgroups, resumé postings, and chat rooms. Follow these tips whenever you can:
- Set up an e-mail address dedicated solely to Web transactions. Consider using a free mail service to set up an e-mail account for your online transactions. This will help you keep your real e-mail address private.
- Only share your primary e-mail address with people you know. Avoid listing your e-mail address in large Internet directories. Don’t even post it on your own Web site.
- Disguise (or “munge”) your e-mail address. Use a munged address whenever you post it to a newsgroup, chat room, or bulletin board. For example, you could give your e-mail address as “firstname.lastname@example.org” using “0” (zero) instead of “o.” A person can interpret your address, but the automated programs that spammers use cannot.
- Watch out for checked boxes. When you buy things online, companies sometimes add a check box (pre-checked!) to indicate that it’s fine to sell or give your e-mail address to responsible parties. Click the check box to clear it.