Spam. Prior to the Internet age, the word conjured up images of pink, mushy, potted meat in a blue can. In the current vernacular, spam is the common term for unsolicited email—the roach-like pest that invades your inbox with come-ons for herbal supplements, investment schemes and other nuisances both unsavory and unmentionable. Congress recently crafted and passed legislation, which NAIFA supported, requiring commercial email to be labeled as such and have a legitimate return address. Congress also directed the Federal Trade Commission to study the potential for a do-not-spam list. But for now, it’s mostly up to you to stem the flow of trash. Here are several spam filters that may help you do just that.
The revenge factor
In addition to being a highly regarded filter, Spamfire, from Matterform Media, has a “Revenge Menu,” which allows users to submit spam to national “black lists” of known spammers. It will also flood spammers’ email servers with useless information, making it harder for them to track who opens their messages. Spamfire works by downloading unsolicited email to a holding area then deleting it from your server, which means you never see the offending messages. Versions of the program sell from between $10 and $40, along with a yearly subscription fee of $12.
Free for you, bad for
If you’re looking for a free, basic spam filter, MailWasher is a great option. The program offers standard filters, allows you to compose a personal “friends list” and black lists. It also checks your mail against national black lists of known spammers. However, the free version of MailWasher only covers one email account and does not work with America Online. MailWasher Pro can be purchased for just under $30, is available to multiple accounts, works with AOL and comes with tech support.
Matador from MailFrontier
For Microsoft Outlook users, Matador is an elegant solution to spam. It interfaces seamlessly with both Outlook and Outlook Express, requiring virtually zero set up from the user. As you check your email, Matador learns your friends, identifies spam and applies what it learns to future messages. But the best thing about Matador is what’s to come. The company is currently testing antifraud software that flags email that might be used to perpetrate identity theft. The standard Matador software sells for just under $30 and users can download a free beta version of the antifraud software.
Don’t be a spammer
If you advertise products and services through email, Spam Abuse provides tips for responsible online marketing—just check the “Help for Marketers” section of the site. It has a concrete definition of what is considered spam and includes information on making sure you will never be accused of being a spammer. It also includes a newsfeed on the latest antispam efforts and technology.