It seems to be a fact of life that, the longer one has an e-mail
address, the more spam arrives there. One answer to the spam flood
has come from several companies, who, for a fee, stop all mail from
sources you have not previously verified and forward it only if the
sender replies to a verification request, something spam sources
will not do.
This approach is quite effective, for a fee. The good news is
that, if you have a website of your own with e-mail forwarding and
autoresponder capability and an e-mail program like Outlook or
Outlook Express, chances are you can duplicate most of the value of
this service at no extra cost. To make it really effective involves
turning your e-mail use inside-out, as it were. Instead of all mail
being presented for your review unless you set up rules otherwise,
incoming mail from verified addresses is automatically placed in
what I call Welcome Mail folders. Most of the mail in your Inbox
will be from people wanting to establish valid communication with
you. The vast majority of spam will never appear at all. Sound too
good to be true? Hereís how to make it all work.
You will need to set up 2 webmail addresses at your website. One
I will call your Public Address (firstname.lastname@example.org), one your
Private Address (email@example.com). Set up the Public Address
to forward to a Verification Request autoresponder you also set up
on your website. In that autoresponder message, say something like:
"Your message to (your name) is subject to verification before
delivery. Please re-send it to (your Private Address) for review. If
it is verified, you will receive notice and can communicate in the
future without re-verifying.
I am sorry to have to require this extra step. It has become
necessary to eliminate unsolicited e-mail.
Do not respond to this message; it is being sent by autoresponder."
Set up the Private Mail account on your Outlook or Outlook
Express email program. There is no need to set up a Public Address
account since no useful mail will arrive there.
Spam sources sending messages to your Public Address will not
respond to the autoresponder message and so you will never receive
those messages. Valid senders will respond to the autoresponder
message and re-send their mail to your Private Address. The sender
can use your Private Address from then on to send you messages.
For messages received at your Private Address, you will need to
set up a "Welcome E-mail" folder or folders in your e-mail program
to store valid email. You may want to set up one for family and
friends, and one or more for business communications. Make rules
routing messages to these various folders based on the sending
address, using your address book list. That way, messages from
your current friends, family and business associates will
automatically be placed in respective folders for your spam-free
viewing. You will also want to set up folders for viewing your
favorite ezines, etc. (Note: Since many ezines are sent from
addresses which won't accept replies, you will need to use your
Private Address when signing up.) Of course, you can just operate
out of your Inbox instead of setting up folders and rules, but since
the Welcome E-mail folders are your last defense against spam, I
donít recommend it.
Donít publish your Private Address anywhere and give it out only
to those you want to communicate with. When you do give it out to
someone, take their email address and make a routing rule so you
will automatically receive their messages. Is there anything to stop
spam from arriving at your Private Address anyway? No, but it should
be small since you are not publishing your Private Address. And,
more importantly, since your rules accept only e-mail from
previously approved addresses, it will not end up in any of your
Welcome E-mail folders. You will want to periodically scan the Inbox
for valid messages awaiting verification. When you find messages
from senders you want to communicate with, send a reply and set up a
routing rule for that sending address. Note: The need to review your
inbox for email you want to verify can be somewhat of a pain, but if
you pay for the commercial services that I mentioned at the outset,
the same step is necessary.
In general, you should set up other email addresses you publish
to forward to the Verification Request autoresponder you set up
above. An exception would be if you publish addresses like