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Avast Academy Privacy Digital Life Spam Emails: Why Am I Getting So Many and How to Stop Them

Spam Emails: Why Am I Getting So Many and How to Stop Them

Tired of endless spam emails? Not only are they irritating; junk emails can also be used to push scams and even deliver malware. Find out why you’re getting so much email spam, and learn how a comprehensive security and privacy app like Avast One can help you stop spammers targeting your inbox with unwanted emails.

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Written by Domenic Molinaro
Updated on January 24, 2024

Spam email — also called junk mail or spam mail — refers to unsolicited messages sent in bulk to many different email addresses. Most spam appears in the way of relatively harmless emails from advertisers. But spam is also a low-risk, high-reward method for scammers to unleash phishing attacks.

Just opening a spam email can result in getting even more spam, and clicking a malicious link or attachment can expose you to ransomware or other types of malware, such as the Emotet botnet that spreads from inbox to inbox.

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This Article Contains:

    How to stop spam emails

    You can learn how to stop spam emails by unsubscribing from unwanted spam email campaigns and reporting and blocking spam. But to permanently stop spam emails, you’ll also need to adjust your privacy settings and change your online habits.

    Here’s how to stop unwanted emails:

    • Report the email as spam

    • Block spam email addresses

    • Use an email alias

    • Change your email privacy settings

    • Unsubscribe from unwanted newsletters or mailing lists

    • Check if your email is on the dark web

    • Use a secondary email address

    • Use a third-party email filter

    • Use SPF and DKIM email authentication

    • Delete suspicious emails

    Report the email as spam

    You can remove junk emails manually, but that won’t stop spammers from sending you more unwanted emails in the future. And it won’t protect you against viruses or other types of malware hidden in unsolicited emails — for that you’ll need a malware removal tool.

    To effectively block spam you need to report it, because that helps your email client learn which email address to block and how to filter spam more generally.

    Here’s how to report spam on Gmail, Apple Mail, Outlook, and Yahoo mail:

    How to report spam mail on Gmail


    1. Open Gmail.

    2. Check the box to the left of each spam email you want to report.

    3. Then, click the Report Spam button (the stop sign icon) in the mailbox toolbar.

      Reporting spam on Gmail

    How to report spam mail on Apple Mail


    1. Open Apple Mail.

    2. Click the spam email you want to report and then click the Junk Mail icon in the mailbox toolbar.

      Marking spam mail as junk in the Apple Mail app.

    How to report spam mail on Outlook


    1. Open Outlook.

    2. Right-click the spam email you want to report.

    3. Go to Security options and click Mark as junk.

      Reporting spam on outlook

    How to report spam mail on Yahoo Mail


    1. Open Yahoo Mail.

    2. Check the box to the left of each junk email you want to report.

    3. Then click the Spam button in the mailbox toolbar.

      Reporting spam mail on Yahoo Mail

    After you start training your email how to recognize and stop spam emails, teach yourself how to spot amazon phishing emails and other spam on your own. Spammers may know how to avoid getting caught by spam email filters, but they may not be able to fool a well-trained eye.

    While filtering addresses some spam emails, you should outright block spam email addresses that are persistent, dangerous, or fake. And remember to report any internet scams you come across, such as Apple ID phishing scams and other threats.

    Block spam email addresses

    Blocking unwanted emails stops spam from reaching that email address permanently, but be careful how you go about doing it, because opening some spam emails can prompt a deluge of more junk emails from other spam accounts.

    Here’s how to block spam email addresses on Gmail, Apple Mail, Outlook, and Yahoo mail:

    How to block spam email addresses on Gmail


    1. Open Gmail, and check the box of the spam email whose sender you’d like to block.

      Selecting emails in Gmail in order to block the sender.

    2. Click the three vertical dots displayed along the top of your inbox and select Filter messages like these.

      Selecting "Filter messages like this" for the selected email.

    3. Click Create filter to create a new gmail filter for that address.

      Creating a new message filter in Gmail to block a sender.

    4. Select Delete it from the list of actions and click Create filter again to confirm.

      Creating a message filter to delete all emails from a particular sender.

    How to block spam email addresses on Apple Mail


    1. Open the Mail App and select a message from the sender you want to block.

    2. In the message header, click the arrow next to the sender’s name and select Block Contact.

      Blocking a spam sender in the Apple Mail app.

    How to block spam email addresses on Outlook


    1. Open Outlook and right-click the email whose address you want to block.

    2. Scroll to Security Options, select Block Sender, and click.

      Blocking a sender on Outlook

    How to block spam emails addresses on Yahoo Mail


    1. Open Yahoo Mail and check the box to the left of the email whose sender you want to block.

    2. Click the three horizontal dots in the mailbox toolbar and select Block senders.

      Blocking senders on Yahoo Mail

    For more about other kinds of spam, check out our guides to learn how to stop spam text messages and block phone number spoofing. Though unlikely, email and text spam can be delivery mechanisms for malware — yes, phones can get viruses just like computers.

    Use an email alias

    Hiding behind an email alias by using a secondary or “burner” address lets you sign up for sites and accounts without divulging your primary email address. By forwarding messages sent to your email alias to a separate folder in your main inbox, you can manage your alternative accounts together, while preserving the privacy of your primary account.

    Change your email privacy settings

    Stopping spammers from flooding your inbox with unwanted junk emails is good, but changing your email privacy settings — and your habits — to reduce your exposure to spam in the first place is even better.

    Always keep your email as private as possible. This means being careful about the people and organizations you share your address with. And use two-factor authentication to further secure your inbox.

    Here’s how to adjust your email privacy settings to avoid spam emails and stop advertisers and other third parties from having access to your address.

    Change your settings on Gmail


    1. Open Gmail and click your account icon in the upper-right corner.

    2. Then click Manage your Google Account.

      the Google Account menu

    3. On the left-navigation menu, click Security.

      Highlighting the "Security" option Under "Manage Your Google Account" in Gmail

    4. Review your current settings and change any that need to be updated. We recommend removing access to your account for any third-parties sending you unwanted spam.

      please highlight "Manage third-party access"

    Change your settings on Apple Mail


    1. Click the Apple icon in the upper-left corner of your Mac and select System Preferences.

    2. Click the Security and Privacy option and adjust settings according to your preferences.

    Change your settings on Outlook


    1. Click your account icon in the upper-right corner and select My Microsoft Account.

      Highlighting the Account icon and the "My Microsoft account" link in Microsoft Outlook

    2. Click Privacy, then click Privacy dashboard.

      Highlighting the "Privacy" and "Privacy dashboard" options in Microsoft Outlook

    3. Click View app access details under Apps and services and remove access from any app sending you spam or other unwanted emails.

      Highlighting the "View app access details" option in Apps and services in the Microsoft Outlook Privacy dashboard

    Change your settings on Yahoo Mail


    1. Open Yahoo Mail.

    2. Click the Gear icon in the top-right corner and choose More Settings.

      Highlighting  the Gear Icon and "More Settings" in Yahoo Mail

    3. Click Security and Privacy. Add specific email address you want to block, or entire domain names to block apps or services from having access to your email address.

      The Yahoo Mail Security and Privacy screen

    Unsubscribe from unwanted newsletters or mailing lists

    Another reason you could be getting spam is because you’ve actually signed up to receive it — knowingly or not. Removing your email address from spam subscription lists is a great way to thin out the junk in your inbox.

    To begin, open your email and enter unsubscribe into your email search bar. That will bring up all the newsletters and mailing lists you can unsubscribe to, because all of those emails will have options to unsubscribe buried at the bottom of their email campaigns.

    Now you can select the spam emails you never open or read, or those you no longer wish to receive, and click the unsubscribe link included at the bottom of the email. Many newsletters and advertising campaigns, even those from reputable services, make it hard to find the unsubscribe button. But if you scroll carefully you’ll find it. If not, you can always report the email as spam, which will unsubscribe you automatically.

    Check if your email is on the dark web

    If your email account information or other personal data has been leaked on the dark web, you could be exposed to mountains of spam along with a host of online scams like sophisticated spear phishing attacks. Use a dark web scanner to check if your email is on the dark web, and then secure any compromised accounts by updating your credentials with strong passwords.

    Use a secondary email address

    Creating a secondary email account is another way to protect your mailbox from spam. Email addresses used for purchases, event sign-ups, or downloads often end up on spam lists. Using one email address for work, friends, and family and another for everything else can drastically clean up your inbox.

    For more online privacy tips, like encrypting your inbox with an email encryption tool or using an anonymous email to keep your mailbox secure and hidden, check out our other guides.

    Use a third-party email filter

    Even the best junk mail filter can’t catch every single unwanted email. Using a third-party email filter along with your regular email filter will boost your spam defenses. There are many strong third-party email filters to help you prevent spam, including Mailwasher, SpamSieve, Zerospam, Spambrella, and SpamTitan.

    Use SPF and DKIM email authentication

    It’s also possible to use email authentication methods such as SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) to combat spam and phishing emails. Most email clients have options called “show details” or “show original” which allow you to inspect the full email header, including the results of SPF and DKIM authentication checks.

    Although recipients can check the SPF and DKIM of incoming emails to verify the message’s integrity and reject or mark as spam those that fail, this method won’t stop spam or other malicious emails from landing in your inbox to begin with.

    Delete suspicious emails

    Don’t engage with suspicious emails or click links in spam. Doing so risks triggering more spam or even exposing you to scams or malware. Spam emails might even have a fake unsubscribe link, causing you to get even more spam.

    Some junk emails are designed to get you to open the email so they know your account is active. Then, they can target you with more junk. If something looks a bit off, it probably is. To be safe, simply delete the email — if it’s important, the sender will likely contact you some other way.

    And remember to empty your spam folder periodically. Emails you mark as spam are usually kept in your email for a certain period of time, in case you want to reverse your decision. To make sure you inbox stays clean, or even if you want to free up space, empty your spam folder.

    How to delete unwanted emails on Gmail


    1. Open Gmail and click the Spam folder in the left-navigation menu.

      Deleting Spam email in Gmail

    2. Click Delete all spam messages now from the top menu ribbon. Click OK to confirm.

    How to delete unwanted emails on Apple Mail


    1. Open Apple Mail and select the Junk Mail option on the left-hand side.

    2. Highlight the desired messages.

    3. Click the metal trash can icon.

    How to delete unwanted emails on Outlook


    1. Open Outlook

    2. Click Junk Email on the left side, then select Empty folder.

      Deleting Junk Email in Outlook

    3. Click Delete all to confirm.

    How to delete unwanted emails on Yahoo Mail


    1. Open Yahoo and click Spam on the left-hand menu.

    2. Then check the box next to all the spam emails you want to delete.

      Emptying your spam folder in Yahoo Mail.

    3. Click the trash icon to empty your spam folder and click OK to confirm.

    How to spot spam emails

    Usually, spam emails have some of the same typical characteristics, and knowing what to look for will help ensure you avoid falling victim. Below are some of the most common signs that an email is spam:

    • Unfamiliar greetings: A dead giveaway that an email is spam is if it contains strangely formal salutations, other unusual greetings, or isn’t addressed to you by name.

    • Language mistakes: A particularly noticeable sign an email is spam is if it contains glaring spelling mistakes and bad grammar that a legitimate company would never send to customers.

    • Inconsistencies: If you find weird differences in the sender's email address, links, or domain names, the email is probably spam. Spammers often try to impersonate real organizations by using email addresses that — at first glance — look like the real deal.

    • Unusual links or attachments: Emails with questionable links or attachments containing unfamiliar extensions (such as .zip, .exe, .scr, etc.) should be treated as highly suspicious, as they’re likely to be malicious spam containing malware.

    • Sensitive data requests: Never respond to requests for login credentials, payment information, or other sensitive data. Legitimate organizations will never contact you via email for this kind of information.

    • Sense of urgency: To create a sense of urgency, scammers typically cite negative consequences or opportunity loss unless action is taken immediately, which can cause recipients to act before questioning the email’s veracity.

    • It's too good to be true: As the old saying goes, "If it's too good to be true, it probably is." This is especially true with spam emails claiming you've won a prize and all you have to do is click a link or open an attachment to redeem it.

    Protect your device against malicious spam

    Spam and other unwanted messages can come from anywhere, and filtering them out of your inbox can seem like a game of whack-a-mole. Thankfully, all-encompassing security and privacy software like Avast One can protect your email and shield your entire network from any malicious threats trying to get through.

    Avast One is built on top of an award-winning threat-detection engine, and it has an array of other security and privacy features like an email protection tool that automatically blocks malicious links and attachments. Download Avast One today for ironclad online protection.

    FAQs

    How do I stop spam emails permanently?

    To stop spam emails for good, you can mark them as spam or create filters that send them directly to your spam folder. You can also unsubscribe from mailing lists or newsletters that you no longer want to receive.

    Why am I suddenly receiving lots of spam emails?

    You may start to receive a lot of spam emails for several reasons: your email address was recently added to a spammer's database, you inadvertently signed up for a service or subscribed to a mailing list, or you responded to a phishing message requesting your personal information.

    How can you block spam emails?

    To block spam emails, create filters to send them directly to your spam folder. You can also mark unwanted emails as spam, which helps your email provider identify and block similar spam messages in the future.

    Is it better to block or delete spam?

    It's generally better to block spam emails rather than simply delete them. This helps your email provider improve their spam filters and reduce the likelihood of similar messages appearing in the future.

    How do I delete spam emails without opening them?

    To delete spam emails without opening them, simply select the message and delete it without opening it. You can also create filters that automatically delete messages that meet certain criteria, such as containing specific words or coming from certain senders or email addresses.

    Is it safe to unsubscribe from spam emails?

    It is generally not safe to unsubscribe from spam emails as it confirms to the sender that your email address is active and encourages them to send more spam. Instead, you should mark the message as spam and create filters to send future messages from the same address directly to your spam folder.

    What happens if you click unsubscribe on spam?

    Clicking unsubscribe on spam emails can result in several outcomes:

    • Legitimate unsubscription: If the email is from a reputable organization that follows proper email marketing practices, clicking "unsubscribe" should remove your email address from their mailing list. Legitimate companies are required by law (such as the CAN-SPAM Act in the US) to honor unsubscribe requests.

    • An increase in spam emails: Unfortunately, by clicking "unsubscribe" on certain spam emails, you may inadvertently confirm that your email address is active and monitored by a real person. This can lead to an increase in spam emails because spammers now know that your email is active, and they may even sell your email address to other spammers.

    • Security risks: Clicking links in spam emails, including the "unsubscribe" link, can expose you to security risks. The link could lead to a phishing website that attempts to steal your personal information or install malware on your device.

    Get powerful protection against online scams with Avast One

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    Digital Life
    Privacy
    Domenic Molinaro
    31-08-2022