ads Types of Spam E-mails

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Types of email spam break down those annoying and often too-good-to-be-true offers that make us cringe when we check our electronic mail. Almost everyone with an email address will have to deal with e-mail spam from time to time but knowing how to identify email spam will help you not become a victim to the many online scams floating around the Internet these days.

Email spam is more than a simply annoyance, it's also a good chunk of the activity on the entire Internet. In 2010, an estimated 260 billion spam emails were sent per day making up 89% of all email communications. Though only a small percentage of spam email recipients fell victim to the scams included in these junk messages, victims lost almost $500 million to Internet crimes in 2011, according to the FBI. That breaks down to 26,000 complaints per month or one claim every 100 seconds.

Keeping yourself safe from joining those statistics takes a bit of information on what to look for in email spam and some common sense. Having a good antivirus program doesn't hurt either. Knowing the different types of email spam, such as the phishing scams, email address spoofing, Nigerian 419 scams and porn spam is the first step to protecting yourself. Understanding when it's wise to decline an amazing (and likely fraudulent) offer or when to double check that you're dealing with a real company, not just a spammer claiming to be a real company, is equally helpful.

As a general rule of thumb, always double check an offer, website URL or suspicious email before giving away any personal information, your secure password or any cash. With these tips and some common sense, even the Tech Impaired Duck can help fight different kinds of email spam. Remember, spammers only win if you let them!

Unsolicited Advertisements is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Types of Spam E-mails
Photo:  uploaded by Kel Varnsen

Unsolicited Advertisements

Unsolicited bulk emails are pretty annoying as they stack up in your spam folder, but for the most part they are pretty low on the spam email ladder. Each day hundreds of billions of email advertisements are sent, most selling miracle weight loss cures, male enhancement products, knock-off merchandise, online degree programs and prescription drugs.

Tip: In case it wasn't obvious, purchasing anything from these emails is almost assuredly a poor decision.
Phishing Scams is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Types of Spam E-mails
Photo: Saidul A Shaari/Flickr

Phishing Scams

One of the hardest types of email spam to spot is phishing scam emails. These buggers are designed to look like official emails from financial institutions or big companies like eBay and PayPal, but actually direct victims to equally official looking scam sites. This tricks people into volunteering their usernames and passwords, which are then used by the site owners, the scammers, to compromise the real accounts.

Tip: As a rule of thumb, always visit an official site, not whatever comes up when clicking a link in an email, and always check the URL before signing into any site.
Nigerian 419 Scams is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Types of Spam E-mails
Photo:  uploaded by Kel Varnsen

Nigerian 419 Scams

If you have an email account, more than likely you've received a seemingly amazing offer out of the blue by some stranger from a faraway land. Someone claiming to be the agent for a long lost relative, a lottery service, an employer or even someone looking for love will offer a large sum of money, only asking for a small percentage in return for their time, insurance, shipping or other seemingly legit reason. The scammer then sends a fake check and asks for money to be wired back. Victims never receive the large sum from the check and are out the small fee, usually a few hundred or thousand dollars.

Tip: Plain and simple, if it appears too good to be true, most likely it is.
Email Spoofing is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Types of Spam E-mails
Photo:  uploaded by Kel Varnsen

Email Spoofing

More of a technique used to make other email spam tactics seem more believable, many spammers will send messages which appear to originate from a different email address than they actually do. This spoofing technique makes it appear as though a fraudulent email actually came from a trusted source, company or organization. This builds the trust of the victim, making them more likely to take part in whichever scam is included in the message.

Tip: When in doubt, ask that person or company directly, offline, if they sent the message before handing over any personal information or money.
Trojan Horse Email is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Types of Spam E-mails
Photo:  uploaded by Kel Varnsen

Trojan Horse Email

Considered ancient in the email spam history books, email worms are nasty little buggers which not only infect the victim computer but also sends itself to everyone in the victim's contact list. The most famous email worm was the ILOVEYOU bug which debuted in 2000. It was highly successful as who won't open an email from a loved one titled I love you? Once opened and downloaded, the script attached would damage the local computer and send itself out to everyone the victim knows.

Tip: If you receive an email with an attachment from someone who usually doesn't send such things, before opening or downloading anything, take a moment to disconnect and call or text them to confirm it's a legit attachment.
Commercial Advertisements is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Types of Spam E-mails
Photo:  uploaded by Kel Varnsen

Commercial Advertisements

Technically, any unsolicited bulk messages sent indiscriminately are considered spam. This includes when legit websites and companies that you use send out advertisements, newsletters and other junk messages. Most websites these days ask you if you'd like to be included in their communications however some will automatically add you to their mailing list simply for signing up for their site.

Tip: Take a minute to create a free secondary email address for use casually around the web. Use this email address when signing up for non-essential websites so the potential for spam doesn't end up in your primary email inbox.
Anti-Virus Spam is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Types of Spam E-mails
Photo:  uploaded by Kel Varnsen

Anti-Virus Spam

No one wants a virus so when victims receive emails saying that their computer is infected, some will believe the claim out of fear. Victims think they're downloading security software but they are actually infecting their computers with nasty viruses. To get rid of the virus, the software demands cash to magically clean up the virus it just installed.

Tip: Acquire and use a comprehensive anti-virus system from a trusted company. Many great free and paid versions are available for all operating systems. Having your computer covered means there's no reason to ever download any other random system that appears in your email, real or fake.
Chain Letters is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Types of Spam E-mails
Photo:  uploaded by Kel Varnsen

Chain Letters

We all have that annoying relative who constantly sends us recycled jokes, funny photos or those sensational claims about President Obama. Despite coming from a friend or family member, this too qualifies as spam (and can be ridiculously obnoxious.) So if Crazy Uncle Ray sends you a message with a hundred lines of forwards at the top, be warned that it's likely junk you've seen before or plain old nonsense.

Tip: Create a folder or filter within your mail interface to put all of those inane messages in one spot, out of your main inbox, out of sight and out of mind.