The popularity of email continues to rise, with billions of email addresses in service at any given time. Unfortunately, in addition to quick communication between friends, family members and colleagues, email is a quick way for spam to inundate your inbox. If you keep a few things in mind, it will be easier to prevent those spam emails from coming your way.

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Keep Your Email Address to Yourself

You’ll want to make sure that you’re not posting your email to places indiscriminately. Many of us have memberships to different social media sites, subscriptions to various newsletters, etc. If you need to post your email, say on Facebook, make sure that’s set to private so that only your friends and family can see it. If it’s public, then spambots can take advantage of it.

The same goes if you hand out business cards to people on the street. They can easily use your email and sign you up for all sorts of things you actually have no interest in. Hand out your information to those you believe actually have a genuine interest in your business.

If you’re using an email address that isn’t for business or professional services, such as responding to forums, try designating a different email than the one you usually use. That is, have a junk email that you can use without worrying or caring if a spambot gets ahold of it. If it’s not one that you use for important correspondance or daily interaction with friends and family, it doesn’t matter if it’s plagued with spam.

So in short, be particular with who or what has access to your email. I’m sure your email is already full enough–you don’t need even more email that’s completely irrelevant and spammy to besiege your inbox. In addition, it’s okay to have more than one email address designated for different purposes: you can have a work and personal email as well as one you use for junk email, subscriptions or social media.

Encrypt Your Email Address

With the amount of networking that goes on online, being particular with who you release your information to can be difficult–especially if you’re trying to network yourself to get more business. Of course you want as many people as possible to know who you are and know how to get ahold of you! But networking and keeping your email safe from spambots is not an impossible task.

For instance, if you have a resume or portfolio posted online and you want to display your contact information, instead of displaying your email address as usual, encrypt it by writing out the email address like this: john [at] email [dot] com. Spambots are unable to read an email that is displayed like this and will pass right over it, but potential contacts will have no problem interpreting your cleverly disguised email. There are other ways to encrypt your email address as well, like downloading some plugins in the internet browser you typically use.

Avoid Common Words and Names

A lot of people enjoy blogging about their daily lives or special interests. With a blog usually comes an email so that readers can contact the writer. Often times, people will set up a contact email for their blog by using something like: [email protected] or [email protected]. Spambots, however, will create random combinations of common words to try to make a workable email address. Instead of using these common words, try using a more creative word or add some numbers to it. For instance, [email protected] can become [email protected]. It’s less likely that a spambot will put that email address together than the first one.

Limit Subscriptions to Newsletters

Every time you sign up for an email newsletter, a new website or a giveaway, you put yourself at risk for receiving spam emails. There are several ways you can avoid falling victim to spambots. For one, like I said before, you can have a designated email to various subscriptions. In addition, rather than signing up for your favorite blog’s newsletter, you can add their site to your preferred feed reader. This way, you can stay up-to-date with all they have to offer while protecting your email from potential spam threats.

Don’t Open Emails You Don’t Recognize

The tools that spammers have at their disposal are quite sophisticated, and even if you took all the precautions to protect your email from from spammers, some may still slip through by not only obtaining your email address, but maybe even landing in your inbox rather than in the spam filter you’ve set up. If this is the case, make sure you don’t open every email that you see in your inbox. Especially is it’s from an email address you don’t recognize or has a suspicious subject (viagra, anyone?).

Unfortunately, spambot technology is always changing and despite our best efforts, we can still get some unsolicited and sometimes even dangerous spam emails in our inbox. But, taking the above precautions and being proactive on the matter should substantially decrease your chance of getting such an email.

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Liesl H is a writer with many years of experience writing in the technology, security and marketing fields.