How To Stop Spam Emails (2022 Guide)

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Ryan Toohil

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    Are You Getting More Spam Emails Than Ever Before?

    Americans are drowning in spam emails — with no signs of it slowing down. 

    In 2021, almost 320 billion emails were sent every day, with 45% of them being marked as spam [*]. That’s at least 144 billion spam emails sent every day (or an average of about 18 sent daily to every living person on planet Earth)!

    It may seem like spam emails are just an unfortunate part of our digital lives — but spam doesn’t just include harmless advertisements and offers. Scammers use spam email messages as a “low-risk, high-reward” way to disseminate viruses, and to “phish” for personal information from unsuspecting victims. 

    Even accidentally opening a spam email can provide scammers with sensitive information about who you are and where you live (and will almost certainly guarantee that you receive more spam).

    The good news is that if you’re tired of your inbox being filled with spam, there are options available. In this guide, we’ll explain the risks of receiving spam and show you how to stop spam emails from cluttering up your life. 

    Why Are You Getting Spam Emails in the First Place? 

    Stopping spam emails begins with understanding why you’re receiving them. While it may seem like scammers just know your email address, there are specific ways that they get it, including:  

    • Spammers scrape your email address from social media. Platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook can expose your email address to anyone on the internet (as well as disclose other contact information, such as your phone number). Scammers use software that “scrapes” sites for email addresses and adds them to their lists. 
    • Your email was leaked in a data breach. Hackers target major companies’ databases and then sell stolen information on the Dark Web. Email addresses are especially easy to steal, and they cost very little to purchase in bulk. 
    Scammers can buy 10 million American email addresses for $120. Source: Dark Web Price Index 2022
    Scammers can buy 10 million American email addresses for $120. Source: Dark Web Price Index 2022
    • You opened or responded to previous scam emails. Fraudsters share lists of active email addresses that are based on your behavior. If you click on a link or even open a spam email, it tells them that you’re a target. 
    • Data brokers sold email lists with yours on it. Data brokers — also known as “people finder sites” — are legitimate companies that collect and sell information about you. While their main clients are advertisers, scammers can also buy lists of personal contact information to power their schemes. 
    Take action: If your personal information is on data broker lists, you could be at risk of identity theft, fraud, and scams. Aura monitors data brokers for your personal information and can automatically send removal requests on your behalf. Try Aura free for 14 days and protect yourself from scammers →

    What Happens If You Open a Spam Email? Is It Dangerous?

    Simply receiving spam messages isn’t dangerous. But opening them can give scammers information that they can use against you. 

    Worse yet, if you have automatic image loading on your email client, the scammer might be able to see: 

    • Your device location
    • Your internet service provider
    • Your device type, operating system, email client, and web browser 

    Not only can opening spam verify that your email is active (which can lead to even more spam emails)— spam emails could contain:

    • Phishing attempts. Fraudsters send emails posing as people or companies you trust to extract your personally identifiable information (PII), financial credentials, or passwords. Since 2020, there’s been a 70% increase in losses to online fraud in the United States [*]. 
    • Malicious attachments. Scammers often attach files to their emails that contain malware which can install ransomware, adware, or other viruses on your device. Malware can also siphon your personal information to scammers so that they can steal your identity. 
    • Links that send you to phishing websites. Phishing and “pharming” websites are set up to mimic legitimate websites, but will instead steal your login credentials. Never click on the links in unsolicited emails. 
    • Social engineering attacks. Phishing attacks often employ social engineering tactics. These tactics use deception and a false sense of urgency to manipulate you into giving away key personal or credit card information. 

    If opening the email is as far as you’ve gone, it’s not too big of a deal. But if after opening it, you clicked on a link, downloaded an attachment, or responded with sensitive information, you need to act quickly to protect yourself

    11 Ways To Stop Spam Emails From Taking Over Your Inbox 

    1. Block spam email addresses in your email client
    2. Use an email alias when signing up for new accounts
    3. Report suspicious emails as spam (without opening them)
    4. Remove your email address from data broker lists
    5. Learn how to spot the signs of a phishing email
    6. Unsubscribe from unwanted mailing lists
    7. Turn off “auto-load” for images
    8. Scan the Dark Web for your email and passwords
    9. Stop giving your email address to websites
    10. Start fresh with new email accounts
    11. Protect your devices with antivirus software

    Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to stop all spam emails. But here are 11 ways you can dramatically reduce the amount of spam that’s filling up your inbox. 

    1. Block spam email addresses in your email client

    Blocking an email address ensures that any future unsolicited messages from that sender will be sent to your junk or spam folder. 

    The average daily spam volume worldwide from October 2020 to September 2021. Source: Statista 

    This won’t be particularly useful in terms of blocking future spam since spammers move on to new email addresses very quickly. But it will give your email provider helpful information that they can use to improve their email filters. 

    🔎 What to do:

    • Without opening the email, report and block the spam email address (we explain below how to do this using Gmail, Outlook, Apple Mail, and Yahoo Mail).

    2. Use an email alias when signing up for new accounts

    Email aliases help you keep your identity anonymous and protect your email privacy. They are generic email addresses that you can use to sign up for websites and mailing lists while preventing sites from knowing your actual email address.

    Whenever an email is sent to the alias, you receive it in a separate section of your main email inbox. This lets you easily manage your inbox and block unsolicited senders. 

    🔎 What to do:

    • Set up an email alias using your email service, if it’s supported (Gmail is one service that allows you to create email aliases). 
    • Use an identity theft protection service that also masks your primary email from scammers. Aura lets you automatically generate email aliases to hide your primary address, prevent unwanted spam, and reduce your exposure to data breaches. Try Aura free for 14 days to see how it works → 

    3. Report suspicious emails as spam (without opening them)

    Removing spam emails manually is time-consuming and won’t prevent that address from sending you more junk. Reporting unwanted messages to your service provider will help the provider block and filter spam more effectively. 

    🔎 What to do:

    • Report every unwanted email as a spam or phishing email (we cover below how to do this using Gmail, Outlook, Apple Mail, and Yahoo! Mail). 

    💡 Related: How To Stop Spam Texts (on Android and iPhone) → 

    4. Remove your email address from data broker lists

    Data broker sites buy and compile internet user data and sell it to companies and scammers so that they can target you with their content. Removing your email from these lists means that fewer people can get their hands on it, reducing the amount of spam that you receive. 

    🔎 What to do:

    • Let Aura remove your data from broker lists by sending requests on your behalf. 
    • Or, opt out of each data broker company manually. To do so, you need to find out what information they have about you (if any). With that in hand, navigate to their opt-out page and submit your request, citing your profile. This is a drawn-out process, as the list of brokers is overwhelmingly long. 
    Aura will remove your data for you from broker lists. Source: Aura identity theft protection
    Aura will remove your data for you from broker lists. Source: Aura identity theft protection

    5. Learn how to spot the signs of a phishing email

    Phishing emails are becoming increasingly sophisticated; and, as a result, they’re becoming harder to identify. But there are some common signs (and rules of thumb) that you can use to spot and avoid phishing emails. 

    An example of a phishing email pretending to be from Instagram. Source: SiliconANGLE
    An example of a phishing email pretending to be from Instagram. Source: SiliconANGLE

    🔎 What to do:

    • Look for the warning signs of a phishing email. This includes emails from unknown senders, spelling and grammatical errors in the subject line and body, and requests for personal information. 
    • Never click on links or download attachments in emails unless you’re 100% sure it’s from someone you trust. 
    • Never provide personal information or reply to spam emails. 

    6. Unsubscribe from unwanted mailing lists

    Endless marketing newsletters and advertisements can quickly become annoying. If these come from legitimate companies that you signed up for (perhaps when making a purchase in the past), you can easily unsubscribe to prevent future emails and free up your inbox. 

    🔎 What to do:

    • Unsubscribe from legitimate mailing list subscriptions by going to the company’s website (rather than clicking on the “unsubscribe” button at the bottom of the email). This protects you from fraudulent phishing emails that may contain malicious and fake “unsubscribe” links. 
    • If it’s a spam email (and you don’t recognize the sender), you’re better off reporting it as spam and deleting the email. This is because any interaction you have with the spammer will let them know that you’re a prospect with an active email account.

    7. Turn off “auto-load” for images

    When “auto-load” is turned on, images are downloaded automatically, providing information to spammers. Most of the major email service providers provide a feature that blocks automatic picture downloads and other external content. 

    🔎 What to do:

    • Check whether your service provides the ability to turn off “auto-load” for images, and enable it if you can. Some services like Outlook have this turned on by default. 

    8. Scan the Dark Web for your email and passwords

    You can check if your personal data has been leaked to hackers during a data breach. If your account credentials have been leaked on the Dark Web, you can secure them. 

    🔎 What to do:

    • Use Aura’s Dark Web Scanner to check if your credentials are circulating on the Dark Web.
    • You can also check the status of your personal data by using HaveIBeenPwned.
    • If you find out that your account information has been leaked, immediately update your passwords for all compromised accounts (it’s also a good idea to update your other passwords as well to be safe). 
    Aura free leaked password scanner

    9. Stop giving your email address to websites

    Posting your email address online, whether you’re signing up for newsletters or joining a new social media site, comes with inherent risks. Not only are you opening your email up for a barrage of spam, but a data breach could happen at any time — giving scammers the information that they need to hack or impersonate you. 

    🔎 What to do:

    • Remove your primary email from your social media profiles. 
    • Create a secondary “burner” email account (or email alias) to use when necessary (such as when signing up for a new service or placing an online shopping order).
    • Remove your email address from your personal website (if you have one). 

    💡 Related: How To Protect Your Personal Information on Social Media

    10. Start fresh with new email accounts

    If your email account is inundated with spam, the best option might be to start over again. With a little bit of work, you can switch all of your major accounts (financial, government, etc.) to a new email address and enjoy peace of mind. 

    🔎 What to do:

    • Create a new email address, and limit when and where you share it. 
    • Use an email service with a more rigorous spam filter.

    11. Protect your devices with antivirus software

    While an antivirus won’t stop you from receiving spam, it will protect you if you accidentally click on a link or download a malicious file. 

    Aura automatically detects and isolates malware — preventing spyware, malware, adware, and ransomware from infecting your device. Aura also automatically stops you from entering malicious sites that may steal your personal information. 

    🔎 What to do:

    • Download and install high-quality antivirus software like the program included in every Aura plan, which will prevent you from accessing phishing sites as well as automatically scan downloaded files for malware. You can try Aura free for 14 days and see if it’s right for you →

    How To Block and Report Spam Emails

    Regularly deleting junk emails isn’t enough. By blocking and reporting spam, you help your provider recognize and control spam more effectively. 

    Luckily, most email services make it easy to report and block spam emails. Here’s how:

    How to block (and report) spam emails in Gmail

    On PC or web browser:

    1. Open Gmail.
    2. Click on the checkmark next to the spam email to highlight it. 
    3. Click Report spam (the icon that looks like an “!” sign). 
    How to block spam in gmail

    On the Android or iPhone app:

    1. Open the Gmail app.
    2. Tap and hold the email in question.
    3. Tap More (the three dots in the top-right corner).
    4. Tap Report spam
    How to block spam emails in the Gmail mobile app

    How to block (and report) spam emails in Apple Mail

    To block a sender on a Mac running macOS Catalina or higher:

    1. Launch Mail.
    2. Click on the message, then hover your cursor over the sender’s name. 
    3. Click on Block Contact.
    How to block spam in Apple Mail

    To block a sender on iPhone:

    1. Launch the Mail app.
    2. Tap the sender’s picture, then their name.
    3. Tap Block this Contact and confirm your choice. 
    How to block a spam sender on iphone

    There’s no way to report spam in Apple Mail, but you can move the message to your junk folder:

    1. On your device, open the Mail app.
    2. Swipe left on the email, and tap More.
    3. Tap Move to Junk.
    How to report spam in Apple mail on mobile

    How to block (and report) spam emails in Microsoft Outlook

    1. Open Outlook.com.
    2. Highlight the email in question.
    3. In the toolbar, click Report, then Report junk or Report phishing.
    4. Click More (the three horizontal dots).
    5. Click Block, then Block Sender
    How to block and report spam email in Microsoft Outlook

    How to block (and report) spam emails in Yahoo Mail

    To block a sender in Yahoo Mail:

    1. Open the Yahoo Mail app.
    2. Click on Settings (the gear icon in the top-right corner).
    3. Click on  More Settings.
    4. Click on Security and privacy.
    5. Click on Add.
    6. Type the email address you want to block, and click Save.
    How to block and report spam in Yahoo mail

    To report an email as spam:

    1. Open Yahoo Mail.
    2. Click on the checkbox next to the email. 
    3. Select Spam in the toolbar.
    How to report an email as spam in Yahoo mail

    Beware of These Common Scam Emails

    You can avoid falling victim to phishing attacks by staying up to date with the current scam tactics. Here are a few recent examples to keep an eye out for:

    • Tax refund scam emails. This is a common tactic in which scammers impersonate the IRS, asking you to send money or personal information. They often create a sense of urgency about getting your refund quickly by attempting to get you to sign in to their fake website. Once you sign in, the scammer has access to your login credentials and can steal your identity. 
    • COVID-19 scam emails. These emails try to trick people into handing over their personal or financial information via bogus COVID-19-related grants and stimulus payments. They often follow the classic advance-fee format — with scammers claiming that they need an upfront charge before handing over the fake payment. 
    • Fake “suspicious activity” notices. With this scam, fraudsters take advantage of the fact that many companies will send you an alert if a sign-in attempt on your account fails. Pretending to be from a well-known company, the scammer will claim that your account is closed and you need to follow a malicious link to unlock it. 
    • Bogus payment confirmation emails. Scammers provide fake receipts, payment confirmations, or invoices that look like they’re from a trustworthy company. The email creates a sense of urgency and provides a way for you to cancel the order — you just have to click on a link or call a number. The scammer will be waiting on the other end of the line to steal your information. 

    The Bottom Line: Stop Spam and Stay Safe From Scammers

    The best way to stay safe from scammers is to avoid them as much as possible. Take these proactive steps to stop spam and steer clear of scam emails:

    • Learn what spam and scam emails look like so that you know what to avoid. Pay attention to the warning signs, and never click on links or attachments from suspicious senders. 
    • Reduce your digital footprint to minimize the amount of spam you receive. Use email aliases for non-vital signups, and clear your name from predatory data broker lists.
    • Protect yourself from scammers with an all-in-one cybersecurity solution like Aura. Aura provides near real-time fraud alerts, a virtual private network (VPN), antivirus software, credit monitoring, and more.

    Scammers want one thing: Your personal or financial information. Don’t let them have it. 

    Let Aura secure your devices from malware and phishing attacks so that you can continue to use your email address safely. 

    Shop, browse, and work online safely. Try Aura free for 14 days.→

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    1. Financial identity theft and fraud
    2. Medical identity theft
    3. Child identity theft
    4. Elder fraud and estate identity theft
    5. “Friendly” or familial identity theft
    6. Employment identity theft
    7. Criminal identity theft
    8. Tax identity theft
    9. Unemployment and government benefits identity theft
    10. Synthetic identity theft
    11. Identity cloning
    12. Account takeovers (social media, email, etc.)
    13. Social Security number identity theft
    14. Biometric ID theft
    15. Crypto account takeovers