Understandably, people are concerned and frustrated when they start receiving e-mail from people they know (or don’t know) asking why they are being sent junk mail. In some cases, the junk mail contains malicious attachments, or links to malicious websites that can contain viruses.
Why does this happen? Usually it’s because their email address somehow go on to a spammer’s list, and the spammer just happened to pick their email address that week. Spammers aren’t going to use their own email address to send out junk, because they don’t want it traced back to them, so they “spoof” someone’s email address, making it seem like the junk email is coming from them instead.
Once that starts happening, it’s nearly impossible to stop it until the spammer moves on to another email address in their list. In the meantime, recipients can create rules or filters to block certain keywords or move them to certain folders automatically until their friend’s email address is no longer being spoofed.
Taking proactive steps is the best approach, though. Guard your email address. Don’t give it out to just anyone, or to any website. Many of those websites say they won’t sell your information, but in some cases the spammers still end up getting the information.
If you sign up for something online, such as a newsletter, have an email account specifically setup to only receive those emails, and use another email account for correspondence with people you know. That way if the other account is compromised or spoofed, it won’t affect your important emails, or annoy your contacts.
Many junk and scam emails appear to come from legitimate sources, but in fact do not. This is an example of an email address used in a scam. The email address in quotes is what appears to the user. The email address in brackets is what the email address really points to. This may be visible when the user attempts to reply to the email.
You can find more examples of scams here.
We’ve all seen Chain Letter emails, with jokes and whatnot. They may be funny (or not), but it’s all of the email addresses in the “to” or “cc” fields that’s is the larger concern. Who knows where that email originally came from, or where it’ll end up eventually, which is likely on a spammer’s list. All those email addresses are gold mines from spammer’s. If someone is sending you those kind of emails, and you want to receive them, insist them use the ‘bcc” (blind carbon copy) field instead, so each recipient can’t see anyone else’s email address.
Be sure to take precautions when it comes to who you give your email address out to, and the emails you open or click links in. They can be very persuasive, and in some cases appear very realistic. If you’re suspicious of an email, contact your Nerd.