Not all spam email is illegal. But there are steps you can take to help stop receiving spam emails.
Laws Regulating SPAM
State and federal laws regulate and protect you from spammers.
The Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act is a federal law that sets standards that email marketers must follow. The Federal Trade Commission and Office of the Attorney General are responsible for enforcing and penalizing violations of this act.
The CAN-SPAM Act requires that unsolicited commercial emails:
- Be identified as advertisements
- Use clear, accurate, non-misleading subject lines and header information
- Provide a functioning return email address and the legitimate physical address of the mailer
- Include a way for people to opt out of future mailings
- Learn more about CAN-SPAM Act standards, enforcement and penalties on the Federal Trade Commission website.
Limit the Spam You Receive
You can take steps to reduce and manage the flow of unwanted email into your inbox.
Use an email filter. Take advantage of all spam filtering tools offered by your email service and/or Internet Service Provider. If spam messages get through the filter and reach your inbox, mark them as spam to help improve the filters.
Avoid Posting Your Email Address on Websites. Spammers regularly “harvest” email addresses from websites, so never post your email address on a public website, including on blog posts, in chat rooms, on social networking sites, or in online classified ads.
Protect your personal email address. Consider using two email addresses – one for personal messages and one for shopping, newsletters, chat rooms, and other services.
Reduce Spam for Everyone
Spammers search the internet looking for computers that are not protected by up-to-date security software. When they find unprotected computers, they try to install malware on the computer so that they can control the computers.
Spammers use a network of many thousands of these infected computers – called a botnet – to send millions of emails at once. Millions of home computers are part of botnets, and most spam is sent through these botnets.
Don’t let spammers use your computer
You can take these steps to reduce the chances that your computer is infected and used to send spam:
- Update your software. Keep all of your software – including your operating system, Internet browser and other software programs – up to date to protect against the latest threats. It is a good idea to set your software to retrieve updates automatically.
- Use a good antivirus software. Make sure you have good antivirus software installed on your computer, and regularly receiving updates.
- Use caution opening email attachments. Do not open an email attachment – even if it is from a friend or relative – unless you are expecting it or know what it is.
- Download software only from sites you know and trust. It can be tempting to download free software, but keep in mind that such software may contain malware.