How to Stop Spam Emails: Nine Tips to Tidy Your Inbox

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1) Check the small print

Nearly all companies will try to get you to subscribe to their newsletters or exclusive online membership clubs for discounts and up-to-date news; however, make sure to take a second to double-check the website when signing up for anything. Only subscribe to companies you trust and genuinely want to hear more from, being careful not to hand out your email to any company that asks for it.


2) Mark as spam

Marking emails as spam is a handy feature offered by most email applications, as the software learns what sort of emails you deem to be spam and automatically removes them from your inbox so you don’t have to see them. No matter the email client you use, there will be a setting that automatically sends known spam messages to a spam folder. We've shown you how to do it with four of the most popular email clients below.

Apple Mail on Mac
You can turn the junk mail filter on by going to the settings and choosing Mail > Preferences, clicking Junk Mail, and verifying that “Enable junk mail filtering” is selected. From here, you can set messages to be junk or not, and each time you do, the junk mail filter improves so Mail can better identify junk mail. For more information, see Apple Support.

When viewing unwanted emails, select the one you want to mark as junk and at the top of the email client, select Junk > Junk (or Spam > Spam) to move the message to your Junk or Spam folder. More information can be found at Microsoft Support.

The great thing about Gmail is that it automatically identifies spam and suspicious emails and sends them to a dedicated Spam Label. You can also manually set an unwanted message to spam by clicking the ‘Report Spam’ button at the top of the email client when you have an email selected. You can find more information at Google Support.

Yahoo Mail
Despite not being updated as frequently as other email providers, Yahoo does have some inbuilt anti-spam features. Simply select the email messages to send to the Spam folder, then click Spam at the top of the screen. When you do this, the email addresses also get added to the Blocked Addresses list, meaning you shouldn’t receive emails from that address in the future.


3) Don't engage with the emails

As tempting as it might be to read and reply to junk mail, especially when it has seemingly been personalised and is directly addressed to you, engaging with the emails is actually what the criminals want you to do. By engaging, they have got your attention and can now try to extract more personal information from you. Additionally, you will have confirmed your email is active, making you a target for further attacks. Avoid opening and responding to emails that can make you a target.


4) Delete spam without reading it

The most effective way of not engaging with junk mail and spam is to delete the emails without opening or reading them. A lot of spam emails will clearly look like spam in their subject line or the email address they’ve come from will feature typos, excessive use of numbers, or jumbles of words that don’t make sense. If you observe these features in emails you receive, don’t bother opening them; just mark them as spam or junk and remove or delete them.


5) Privacy is key

Don’t reveal your email address, or any personal information, in public forums online or social media. Spammers comb through these sites looking for data to use illegally. If you put personal information on a social profile, ensure your privacy controls are set to the highest setting, so only the people you choose will be able to view the information.


6) Use a third-party spam filter

You can never be too safe while online, so we recommend pairing your email providers’ in-built spam filters with a third-party solution. This will help your devices filter spam more effectively, further reducing the chance of it landing in your main inbox.


7) Block specific senders

Similar to marking emails as spam (as discussed in tip two), each email client will have features to block specific senders. Simply select the unwanted email you received, and click the sender's name to bring up more options that will allow you to block them. You should now stop receiving emails from this sender.


8) Use different email addresses

Having multiple email addresses might seem overwhelming when you consider that you will need to remember a strong and unique password for each account; however, it will be worth it. By having separate email addresses for personal affairs, shopping or newsletter lists, and other businesses, you can keep your highly confidential data, like banking information, separated from the email address that is more likely to receive junk messages. Also, you can always use a password manager (featured as part of ESET’s offering) to help you keep track of your accounts’ passwords.


9) Set up a new email address

If you’re finding that you’ve done all of the above and you’re still receiving overwhelming amounts of spam emails, you can always create a new email address and disable the old email account. Before completely deleting and removing your account, make sure you forward all critical information or emails to your new email address so you still have access to them. Once you delete your old email account, there will be no way of getting back those old emails.


Spam email FAQs

Still have questions about unwanted emails? We’ve answered the most commonly asked questions regarding junk mail, to help keep you safe online.

What is email spam?
Email spam is where someone bulk-sends unsolicited messages to large numbers of recipients. These could be in the form of marketing emails or phishing emails to illegally collect personal information.

Why am I getting unwanted emails?
You could be receiving unwanted emails because cybercriminals have obtained your email address, and they are spamming you in the hope of a response. You may have also signed up to marketing emails from a company but no longer wish to receive emails from them.

What happens if you click on a spam email?
Opening a spam email is usually safe; simply close the email without clicking links or attachments, mark it as spam and delete it. You will remain safe as long as you haven’t clicked on anything inside the email. To ensure nothing has been downloaded by accidentally clicking on the email, run a scan with your antivirus software to ensure your device is entirely safe.

How can I spot a spam email?
Spam emails can usually be spotted by using illegitimate email addresses, explicit or illegal content, scare tactics, typos and misleading information. If you are ever unsure about the contents of an email or where it has come from, do not click on anything in the email and block the sender; mark the email as spam and delete it.