I’ve had several friends and family members recently ask me what to do about the flood of spam they receive in their e-mail. Here is my advice: don’t let the spammers get your e-mail address.
To that end, everyone needs (at least) three e-mail accounts:
- Personal Account – this is the e-mail address you give to your friends and family, where you receive real e-mails from real people you know. Guard this address carefully and never, never use it for any online sign-ups, purchases, etc.
- Business Account – this is the e-mail address you use for your business dealings. Don’t let your friends send you e-mail at this address, make them send to your personal account instead. You will eventually change jobs, companies, etc. and you don’t want your friends to keep sending to this address when that happens. Also, you may get job offers and such from friends – it’s best not to have that in your business account at all.
- Throw-away Account – this is the e-mail address you use to sign up for an online service, place an online order, sign an online petition, etc. This account should be with a free service like Yahoo Mail, Gmail, Hotmail, etc. Over time, you’ll start getting spam at this address – that is the point. You get the spam here instead of in your more permanent accounts. When the spam gets too great (Yahoo Mail and Gmail do a decent job with their filters in my experience), stop using this account and open a new one.
In addition to these accounts, there is a fourth account that can be quite useful: a mailing lists account. If you subscribe to a number of mailing lists, you’ll be very glad that you don’t have them cluttering up the rest of your accounts.
Also of note, never put any of your e-mail addresses on any web page unless you’re trying to get spam.