Plus Signs in Email has an Anti-Spam Usage

screenshot of an email inbox filled with spam 

Image via Wikipedia

Even the most advanced anti-spam filters in the world cannot filter out all the unwanted and unsolicited bulk email messages. Often, these types of messages are generated from companies who sell mailing lists of email addresses or scraped from websites where emails are openly posted.

In the best of instances, these messages are merely annoying. In the worst, they’re dangerous and can lead to malicious viruses or stolen financial information.  Because of the two most common methods for people to obtain your email address with intent to send you unsolicited messages (listed above), you can easily filter out these email messages manually and find out what websites use your information in an unsecured manner.

Many email clients – particularly cloud-based email including Google’s Gmail, Yahoo! Mail and the Windows Live email system – give you additional email address options that you may not even know about. Adding appendages to your email after a plus sign can help you keep track of where your junk emails are comin g from. For instance, you may be joe@website.com but you are also joe+retailstore@website.com.  This means you can customize your addresses for each retail store, mailing list or other use of your email and know where a spam email originated from.

Of course, this method isn’t a surefire way to get rid of spam forever. Some more sophisticated spammers can write a simple script that strips out any additions you may make to your email address. However, this trick still works the majority of the time since most people who harvest and sell email addresses don’t even take the small amount of time that it would take to clean up the addresses.

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