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Consumer Reports

How to keep spam
at a minimum | (KRT) There is no guaranteed way to avoid spam. But you can reduce the volume by avoiding an insidious device known as a spider, which scans Web sites, chat rooms, newsgroups and online directories, scarfing up e-mail addresses that are sold in bulk to e-mail spammers.

How do you steer clear of this digital bug? Try not to display your e-mail address in public, says the Federal Trade Commission, which keeps tabs on spammers and occasionally prosecutes the fraudulent ones. If necessary, create two accounts, one for public postings and chat rooms, a second for personal e-mail.

Other FTC tips to reduce your aggravation include:

Subscribe to any filters offered by your Internet service provider.

Devise a unique e-mail address. Spammers often randomly hurl their products at addresses with common names, such as

Report any unwanted or deceptive messages by forwarding the spam to the FTC at If a "remove me" request is not honored by a spammer, fill out an online complaint on the trade commission's Web site:

Complain to the sender's Internet service provider. Most ISPs are more than happy to cut off service to spammers who are abusing their systems.

Be skeptical. Common scams likely to arrive by e-mail include chain letters, work-at-home-schemes, weight loss programs, credit repair offers, loan scams and free adult entertainment.

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© 2003, Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services