Stop spam emails on popular email services

Anton P. | July 21, 2022

Looking for ways to stop spam emails means users are fed up with junk messages overfilling their inboxes. They might have already tried unsubscribing to marketing letters or providing disposable contact information. However, keeping your inbox spam-free takes more since many messages come unsolicited. 

Companies send their spam emails in bulk. You might not even be sure how your email address ends up on various mailing lists. More disturbingly, scammers send millions of messages containing dangerous links and misleading information. Therefore, knowing how to stop spam emails is crucial for protecting your data and inbox. 

Spam is not only annoying but dangerous 

Marketing letters from companies are only one side of spam. While they are irritating and unwanted, they originate from somewhat reliable sources. However, the darker side of spam consists of suspicious emails, likely infused with social engineering

So, your inbox can flood with fake offers, fraudulent security notifications, or messages mimicking respectable services. Deceitful spam emails will likely propose some non-existent physical, emotional, or financial gain. 

Here are some facts that should motivate you to take action and stop spam emails from reaching your inbox: 

  • Unwanted emails are common and persistent. According to statistics, spam can take around 45% of email traffic in a month. 
  • 39% of spam messages offer fake medical products.
  • Many fraudulent emails contain Microsoft Office Word or Google Docs documents. 
  • The US and Russia are responsible for the biggest percentages of global spam. 
  • Suspicious emails are likely after users’ personal information, including financial details or Social Security numbers. 
  • Scammers can see whether you have opened their spam emails. It is a sign that the email account is active. Therefore, more disturbing messages are likely to follow. 

Past attempts to stop spam emails 

Figuring out the best technique to stop spam emails has been around for decades. For instance, spam blacklists were one of the attempts. However, blocking messages according to IP addresses proved faulty. It unwittingly blocked innocent emails since both users and scammers used the same ISPs. 

Other means to stop spam emails include spam filtering solutions. They would judge the senders’ reputations and look for specific keywords. For instance, spam trigger words are phrases that email providers deem suspicious. 

Modern ways to stop spam emails 

Luckily, modern email applications have a dedicated spam/junk folder. So, you usually do not have to deal with suspicious emails in your main inbox. 

Machine learning algorithms distinguish whether a message should end up buried in the spam folder. 

For instance, Google operates spam filter algorithms that can detect spam with approximately 99.9% accuracy. However, considering the billions of spam messages sent, some emails still manage to remain undetected.  

So, you can contribute to the attempts to stop spam emails. Here are some actions to take to make your inbox safer.

Report spam 

Users might feel the urge to delete spam messages as soon as possible. However, you should know that reporting spam helps stop spam emails in the future. 

Most email providers have buttons for flagging specific messages as spam. Such reports get analyzed, and their characteristics improve spam filters and algorithms. So, your action can help providers know what clues to look for in other emails. Since email phishing evolves continuously, feeding algorithms new data is crucial. 

Follow these steps on popular email providers to report spam. 

Gmail: 

  1. Open your Gmail inbox. 
  2. Find the unwanted spam letter and open it. 
  3. Click the Report spam button. 

Microsoft Outlook: 

  1. Open your Outlook inbox. 
  2. Open the email you wish to report.  
  3. Find the button for Junk
  4. Select what you want to report: Junk or Phishing

Yahoo! Mail: 

  1. Open your Yahoo Mail account. 
  2. Mark the checkbox next to the message you wish to report.
  3. Select Spam from the toolbar above. 

Create multiple email accounts 

Spam marketing letters can frequently overfill your inbox. Realistically, some unwanted email messages will always reach it. Thus, you can create a dedicated email account for signing up for various services. 

So, you will have an email account to waste on marketing letters and other unwanted correspondence. Therefore, your primary inbox can feature only important messages from banks, insurance, tax, or other services. 

Unsubscribe from various mailing lists

One way to stop spam letters is by requiring that companies remove you from their mailing lists. Respectable services are bound to respect your wishes and stop sending you marketing messages or other junk mail. 

There are two main techniques to stop spam emails from services you have subscribed to willingly or not. Yes, businesses can include your email address in their mailing lists because they see you as a possible client. They can retrieve such email addresses from data brokers or partners. 

  • Unsubscribe from one service. Marketing letters usually have buttons for unsubscribing in their footers. Click it to stop this stream of messages in the future. 
  • Unsubscribe from multiple services. There are third-party services that automatically unsubscribe you from marketing messages. So, consider this option if you want to leave a dozen or so campaigns. Of course, you can also do it manually. 

Block specific senders to stop spam emails

In addition to reporting spam, you can also block senders that have repeatedly sent you suspicious emails. The downside is that motivated scammers can operate dozens of individual accounts. Therefore, you can receive identical messages from a different source after blocking initial senders. 

Nonetheless, blocking fraudulent senders is one way to stop spam emails from smaller campaigns. 

Gmail: 

  1. Open your Gmail account.
  2. Open the suspicious spam message.
  3. Click the three-dot button on the right side. 
  4. Select the Block… option. 

Microsoft Outlook: 

  1. Open your Outlook account. 
  2. Right-click the message from the sender you wish to block.
  3. In the menu, click Junk and Block Sender

Yahoo! Mail

  1. Open your Yahoo! Mail account. 
  2. Click on the settings icon on the right side. 
  3. Choose More Settings
  4. Navigate to Security and Privacy
  5. Click the +Add next to Blocked addresses
  6. Type in the suspicious email address and add it. 

Do not open spam emails 

Scammers can pick up email addresses from databases of breached personal information. Therefore, they might not know whether those accounts are still actively used. 

Here are some of the risks of opening spam emails. Some of them can make it tricky to stop spam emails in the future: 

  • Scammers will know your account is active. Senders can likely see whether you open the message and when. 
  • Scammers can receive certain information about you. Depending on your email provider, you can reveal specific information by opening a message. For instance, the time you opened the message and from where. 
  • There are chances of getting infected simply by opening an email. If your email provider permits scripting, it is possible to get malware by opening messages. Luckily, most modern clients like Gmail block scripting. 

Notice an increase in junk mail 

An unusual number of unsolicited messages can start filling your inbox unexpectedly. Such developments are possible if, for instance, your email address has recently been involved in a data breach. 

Depending on its severity, you might need to change the password for your email. However, it could mean that to stop spam emails, you will need to create a new account. 

Privacy and security options for email accounts 

You should always avoid revealing your email address unnecessarily. Additionally, email providers have built-in security and privacy options you should check. 

For instance, here are some examples of privacy and security settings on Gmail and Microsoft Outlook.

Gmail: 

  1. Open your Gmail account and click Settings. Move to See all settings
  2. In the Accounts and Import tab, verify that no one else has access to your account via Grant access to your account. 
  3. In the Accounts and Import tab, look through addresses in Send mail as and see if they all belong to you. 
  4. In the Filters and Blocked addresses tab, check whether there are no unknown accounts using the Forward to filter. 
  5. In the Filters and Blocked addresses tab, see whether there are no unknown filters set to delete messages automatically. 
  6. In the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab, see whether an unknown account does not receive your messages. 

Microsoft Outlook: 

  1. Open your Outlook account. 
  2. Click on File at the top panel. 
  3. Pick Options
  4. Pick Trust Center and Trust Center Settings
  5. You can manage the Automatic Download tab. Ensure that these settings do not allow automatic file downloads from emails. 
  6. In the Email Security tab, you can choose to encrypt contents and attachments for outgoing messages. Also, you can request a S/MIME receipt for all S/MIME messages. 

Depending on your provider, similar settings might be available to you. 

Final notes on ways to stop spam emails 

Sadly, users are unlikely to stop spam emails from ever reaching their inboxes. Therefore, you should know how to recognize and react to them. 

Thus, try not to open them. If you do open them, never download files or follow links. Also, never reply to unknown senders. If a suspicious email claims to be from a reputable source, contact that service via official contacts.

Anton P.

Anton P.

Former chef and the head of Atlas VPN blog team. He's an experienced cybersecurity expert with a background of technical content writing.

Tags:

emailphishingjunksecurity

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