One of the most common questions we get asked at Consult.PW is “Please can you stop spam being sent to my email address?” The simple answer is NO, we can’t. What we CAN do is to help you to take steps to reduce it.
An email address is like the address of your home. We can set up email addresses for you, but just as we can’t stop people putting things through your letterbox, we can’t stop people sending you emails.
What we CAN do is identify where spam is coming from and block it. However, since spammers can simply target you from another address, this will never be fool proof. The Consult.PW server has sophisticated anti-spam software. We are constantly adding sites to the blacklist.
It’s up to you to take as many steps as you can to REDUCE the number of spam emails landing in your inbox. There are lots of good sites offering detailed advice but meanwhile here are a few tips from the Consult.PW team.
How do spammers get your email address?
To really understand how to reduce junk email, you have to understand how spammers got your email address in the first place and the methods they use to flood you with messages.
The easiest way for spammers to collect large lists of good, active email addresses is via leaked databases. These leaks happen with frightening regularity. Organisations as big as Adobe, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Sony have all been compromised in the past few years. There’s not much you can do to protect yourself from a spammer getting your email address in this way.
What can YOU do?
You can protect yourself from password leaks by not re-using the same password everywhere, but you can also cut down spam by not using the same email address everywhere.
A site like Have I been pwned? can tell you if your account information might have been leaked, but these sites won’t include every leak. https://haveibeenpwned.com/
You should always avoid clicking links in spam email. If you see an “Unsubscribe” link in an email from a legitimate company, it’s probably safe to click it. A legitimate company doesn’t want to spam you, so they’ll just remove you from their list.
What can YOU do?
If you see an “Unsubscribe” or “Buy Now!” link in an email that looks unprofessional, the spammer won’t necessarily remove you from their lists. They’ll note your actions, and their systems will identify your email address as active. They know you’re there, and you may see even more spam after you click the link. Beware of ANY links in spam emails.
The same rules apply for loading images in spam emails. Don’t click the “Load Images” button, or the spammers will know you’ve opened the email. Even if you don’t see an image in the email, there may be a tiny one-pixel tracking bug that allows the spammer to identify you if you load it. That’s why many email clients don’t automatically load images.
What can YOU do?
It may not be the most attractive way to receive email, but if you’re getting a lot of spam with images, you might want to turn off ‘automatically load images’.
Spammers may harvest email addresses by ‘scraping’ the Web – just like Google does!— and look for email addresses mentioned on websites. For example, someone may post a comment like “Email me at
What can YOU do?
You could ensure that you don’t publish emails on your website, but that might be bad for business. Also, if your email address is well publicised, it may appear on lots of other sites, directories and social media. Removing it from your web site may be too late.
One way on minimising this type of harvesting is to create a linked image and use this instead of typing in the address. The link could look the same as an underlines link but is actually a graphic file.
Stealing databases online has cut down the trade in list sales but the Internet is still full of places where lists can be bought. There are even individuals offering their own MailChimp lists for sale!
What can YOU do?
There’s not much you can do if your address is on one of these lists. The list can continue to be sold many times over to new spammers.
We know you’d never dream of looking at porn sites, but if someone has used your computer to do this, they may have unwittingly added you to spam lists. These usually tend to be of the Viagra, ‘meet partners for sex’ or threatening phishing kind of spam.
If you are worried that others may be using your computer to look at sites that may download viruses, use the options/tools in any browsers you use to limit access. If your machine has been used to view sites of this kind, clear your browser cache immediately.
How can you cut down the amount of spam you get?
Many people seem to think that their email provider can stop them getting spam. Whilst that is partly true, the most effective methods of reducing spam are those set up on the machine receiving the messages.
When you find spam in your inbox, don’t just delete it. Select it and tell your mail client that this message is spam. How you do this depends on your client. For instance, if you’re using Gmail’s website, click the Report spam button in the toolbar (the icon looks like an exclamation mark inside a stop sign).
If you use Outlook, you just need one click from the menu:
You also need to train the client about your false positives. Once a day, go through your spam folder looking for messages that don’t belong there. When you find one, select it and tell the client that it made a mistake. In Gmail, you click the Not spam button. In Outlook, click on one of the three options.
Sending a “do not send me this rubbish” email just confirms your account is active and may even add you to more lists automatically.
We know of a customer who set up a rule in Outlook to send a similar message to everything that arrived in junk mail. They not only succeeded in increasing the amount of spam they got but also managed to upset people who ended up in junk mail by mistake!
Spammers will often ‘spoof’ addresses. It may even look as though the email came from a colleague or even from yourself! In Outlook, from the FILE menu, select PROPERTIES.
The panel displayed will show the Internet Headers – where the mail REALLY originated. Block this rather than the ‘spoof’ address.
Send this information to Consult.PW and we can then block that address at server level.
This simple tip can drastically cut down the spam you get. A high percentage of mail is sent using overseas domain names. Blocking mail from other countries is easy to do. Here’s how it works in Outlook:
- From the HOME menu, select JUNK, then JUNK EMAIL OPTIONS
- Select the INTERNATIONAL tab and then BLOCKED TOP LEVEL DOMAIN LIST
- Tick the boxes for countries you do not want to receive mail from.
TIP – You may find it quicker to select all and untick the countries you do want to receive mail from.
We are often tempted to download free resources. It may be a an eBook, a pdf or whatever and to get the goodies, all we must do is enter our email address. No matter how legitimate the site is, it’s just possible that addresses entered there are being harvested.
Ask Consult.PW to create a ‘disposable’ address for you and point this at your real email address Maybe something like
If your mail is hosted by Consult.PW and your mailbox is set to sync with the server it means that we’ll keep an encrypted copy of your mail so that it’s not lost should your PC crash.
Please remember that if you’re not deleting spam before syncing takes place you may be in danger of losing all your mail if your PC fails. This is because the anti-virus and span systems on the server are more sophisticated and if a virus is found the whole mailbox may be deleted to prevent it spreading.
A ‘trojan horse’ may be lurking in an email you’d deleted but left in the deleted items box. When you click ‘delete’, items are transferred to your deleted items box. They are STILL on your PC.
Remember to clear this box, if possible, daily.
Have you ever heard someone tell you “Your email always ends up in spam!”. The annoying thing is, they rarely do anything about it. And if it’s a company email system, ending up in the junk email list on one PC may mean you’ll be there for every address in the organisation.
It’s a simple process to add users to a white list so that mail from them never ends up in junk.
Remember that when you block an IP address, this may be shared by several users so you might be preventing mail getting through from other organisations. Remember that you can use wildcards to block entire domains. For example: @*.xyz will block all mail from the xyz domain.
TIP: You can share your blacklist by exporting it to a file. That way, colleagues in your organisation can benefit by blocking all addresses treated as spam by simply importing your file.
This is a drastic option, but if you’ve responded to spam in the past or haven’t hidden your address, and are therefore overloaded with spam, it may be your best option.
Of course, you’ll have to inform your legitimate contacts about the change, and you’ll probably have to keep both addresses for a while but once you can get rid of the old address, your spam count should plummet.