I hate spam e-mail. It fills my inbox and wastes my time. I saw a report from a bar association this week that 94% of its incoming e-mail was spam. Of course, they filter most of that out.
But today I want to make sure you understand that some of the advice you received in the old days is not good advice anymore.
While there are many kinds of spammers, for today's discussion, let's assume there are two kinds: lawbreakers and legitimate businesses.
For lawbreakers and those who operate in the gray areas, we need help from the FBI, IT people, spam filters and the like. We can't do much on our own.
But many otherwise legitmate businesses use "e-mail marketing." Surely, I am not the only one who has noticed that when I toss business cards into fishbowls, trying to win a nicer iPod or some other great prize, what I always seems to win is being added to the company's e-mail marketing list. Other companies seem to add me just because they ran across my blog and found my e-mail address.
But, In the old days we were told never to click on "Unsubscribe" links at the bottom of spam e-mail as it just confirmed your identity and generated more spam. But since the federal CAN SPAM Act is being enforced, that is no longer true. So I regularly click on unsubscribe links to reduce the inflow of unwanted commercial e-mail. If I get spam e-mail that doesn't have an unsubscrobe option at the bottom, I will reply with a warning of legal consequences and a link to the FTC's page on requirements for commercial e-mailers. Often I get a quick apology by return e-mail. A person who built illegal spamming tools even got a jail sentence earlier this summer. Try it. It even makes you feel good.