"Meet Singles in Your Area!"
"Earn a Doctor's Income in a Few Short Weeks"
"re: a business proposition for you"
"Hot Blondes Playing Trampoline Basketball!"
Such is the dreck that almost everyone with an email account receives daily. And if you believe spam volume is rising, you're right. After doubling in the last six months, approximately 40% of all email sent in the United States consists of unsolicited advertisements.
These destructive emails waste time, spread viruses, and cost individuals and businesses millions of dollars in computer hardware and software.
According to a story in The Washington Post, organizations in the United States will spend more than $10 billion combating spam this year. That's $30 for every man, woman, and child in the country. Stop the madness!
But how? Legislation is tricky because thousands of legitimate businesses send unsolicited email, and they don't want the marketing channel killed. Laws banning the use of fake email addresses and fraud already exist, but abusers are so savvy that they're all but impossible to catch. And who has time? Spam abusers are as numerous as spam itself.
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Anti-spam laws exist in 26 states (including Fool HQ's Virginia -- let us tell you, the law doesn't work), but lawmakers think only a harsh federal law could be effective. That's far from happening. Parties involved can't even agree on how to define spam. Meanwhile, legislation on the simpler issues of unsolicited postal mail and telemarketing has long been pondered.
Speaking of those blights, approximately 40% of postal mail consists of unsolicited advertisements. On the telemarketing front, the average U.S. home receives at least two unsolicited calls a day.
Thankfully, legislation to help home-loving, peace-seeking Americans is finally coming. Beginning in July, you can register on the Federal Trade Commission's national "Do Not Call" registry. (It has teeth -- "Do Not Call" violators will be fined up to $11,000 per infraction.)
If you can't wait until summer, reduce the number of calls you receive by writing to: Telephone Preference Service, Direct Marketing Assoc., P.O. Box 9014, Farmingdale, NY 11735. Provide your name, address, and phone number, and tell them you want to be on their "Do Not Call" list.
As for spam email? You probably receive spam that markets spam-blocking software (love the irony), but if you're like me, you're reluctant to pay. Most email programs offer free filters that can help, but they sometimes delete important email. So, where does that leave us? Using the old delete button.
I figure I spend 10 minutes every weekday deleting spam. That's 50 minutes a week, or 43 hours a year. Gosh. Maybe I will check out some spam-blocking software. But not any advertised through email.