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You've got spam!

Tips to reduce the amount of spam you receive on your inbox — and to avoid falling for those spam scams.
/ Source: Dateline NBC

“An e-mail address is a valuable thing and many people ask for it. Be careful of where you provide that e-mail address," says spam expert Ray Everett Church. "If somebody asks you for an e-mail address, figure out whether or not you trust them to protect it.”

Below are more tips on how to avoid spam from the the Federal Trade Commission:

  • Don’t open e-mails from sources you don’t recognize.
  • Try not to display your email address in public forums. This includes newsgroup postings, chat rooms, websites or in an online service’s membership directory. You may want to opt out of member directories for your online services; spammers may use them to harvest addresses.
  • Watch out for those checkboxes. Read and understand the entire formbefore you transmit personal information through a website. Some Web sites allow you to opt out of receiving email from their “partners” — but you may have to uncheck a preselected box if you want to opt out .
  • Don’t give your e-mail address to just anyone. Check the privacy policy when you submit your address to a Web site. See if it allows the company to sell your address. You may want to opt out of this provision, if possible, or not submit your address at all to websites that won’t protect it.
  • Consider buying anti-spam software. Even better, some of the best anti-spam tools are available for free on the Internet. “It’s just a matter of you taking the time to search them out and learn how to run them,” says Everett-Church.

Scams are also prevelant through spam. The FTC suggests that you treat commercial e-mail solicitations the same way you would treat an unsolicited telemarketing sales call. Greet money making opportunities that arrive at your in box with skepticism. Most of the time, these are old-fashioned scams delivered via the newest technology.

Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Chain letters. Chain letters that involve money or valuable items and promise big returns are illegal. If you start one or send one on, you are breaking the law. Chances are you will receive little or no money back on your "investment." Despite the claims, a chain letter will never make you rich.
  • Work-at-home schemes. Not all work at home opportunities deliver on their promises. Consumers deceived by these ads have lost thousands of dollars, in addition to their time and energy.  Many ads omit the fact that you may have to work many hours without pay. Or they don't disclose all the costs you will have to pay. The companies sponsoring the ads also may demand that you pay for instructions or "tutorial" software.
  • Credit repair offers. Ignore offers to erase accurate negative information from your credit record. There's no legal way to do that.
  • Advance fee loan scams. Be wary of promises to provide a loan for a fee, regardless of your past credit history. Remember, legitimate banks don't issue credit cards without first checking your credit.
  • Adult entertainment. Be skeptical when you see opportunities to view "free" content on the Web. You may get an e-mail from an adult entertainment site that claims to offer content for "free" and doesn't require a credit card number for access. All you have to do is download a "viewer" or "dialer" program. However, once the program is downloaded onto your computer, it may disconnect your Internet connection and reconnect to an international long distance phone number, at rates between $2 and $7 a minute.