Is it spam? Remain open to business but avoid trouble

As soon as your email address gets ‘out there’, you will receive spam.  It is a part of modern life.  So, how do you remain available to your clients and your potential new business contacts and still protect yourself?

One way to keep your inbox clean is to not let your email address get out into the public.  You can use a website form instead of publishing your address.  Your web designer can set up a form that will forward messages to the proper email recipient.  Another approach is to put your email address in a human readable format such as theboss AT that might thwart malicious web crawlers that harvest email addresses for spam.

The flip side is having a good spam filter.  Most commercially available spam filters will do a good job at catching the bulk of obvious spam.  The drug and sex come-ons, the fake degrees and the ‘login to your bank account here’ phishing scams don’t have too try to hard to get people to click on them.  It is just as easy for them to give a little effort in sending out thousands of emails hoping just a few click on through, so they don’t have to try complicated methods of getting past even the most basic spam filter.  Be sure that you chose a spam filter that will allow you to whitelist either domains, individuals or individual emails.  A potential client not getting past your spam filter means a lost opportunity.

My advice is to just be levelheaded in your attitude towards email.  If it is obvious spam, delete away.  No harm, no foul.  If it is too good to be true–it probably is.  If you aren’t sure if that really is your bank, Amazon, eBay, PayPal contacting you–contact them, don’t click through.  Don’t open attachments from an unknown sender.  If they look to be a legitimate customer, reply and connect before opening a file.  Most of us using our smartphones don’t have an easy time with attachments on our mobile devices anyway.  Just as if you have ever worked a cash register, the vast majority of customers who come in the door are there to be customers, but every now and again a quick-charge artist or other type of fraudster is going to show up.  You can be available and open for communication–just be smart about it. 

Like the Gipper always said, “doveryai, no proveryai”, “trust, but verify.”