SPAM is one of those little drags of modern life that we all have to deal with on a daily basis. The degree to which it affects us depends on a lot of factors. If you’re quite technically savvy, you probably don’t get hassled all that much. If you live in a specific country, it could just be that your whole society has a problem with unsolicited messages (I’m looking at you, India.)
I can make light of it right now as I write this from Barcelona where i’m really not all that bothered by SPAM in any of its forms. When I recently spent a short period back in the UK, however, I was very worried by the sheer intensity of cold-calls that my parents were receiving. Luckily they are both fully combos mentis, but they are not getting any younger and the world in which they live now is very different to the one in which they were brought up and fully engaged with during their working lives.
I’m going to be taking care of my parents’ issues with cold calls so that they can get a little bit more peace and quiet each night, and here are a few tips for those people out there who might be suffering from some of the other forms of annoying SPAM overload.
As a long-term Gmail user I personally don’t suffer all too much from SPAM emails reaching my Inbox, but not everybody is so fortunate. Perhaps the easiest solution for those suffering with a poor service from an email provider that doesn’t filter out SPAM is for you to switch to Gmail. It is easy enough to do, but it is also inconvenient as you are then going to have to let all of your real contacts know that you have changed addresses.
The best way to avoid getting into the situation when you are being bombarded with SPAM in the first place, is to make sure that you don’t casually post your email on-line anywhere. Don’t have it visible on your social media channels, and be very wary of handing it over willy-nilly to any of the sites you visit on-line.
A simple trick that people often slip up on is when they fail to correctly click, or un-click, the boxes on websites which specifically ask you whether or not you want to receive marketing information from the site you are signing up for, and their commercial partners. If you fail to pay proper attention to these little boxes, you are openly inviting SPAM.
When I was working in the UK there was a period when I would receive automated calls on a daily basis from companies trying to convince me that I was owed money thanks to being mis-sold PPI (Payment Protection Insurance) by bank. This was a real hassle but I often gave me mobile number out on my business card and this was just a necessary part of my job. I wanted it to stop, but I simply didn’t have the time to do anything about it.
If I had had the time, I should have got in contact with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) in the UK. This is a free service that places you on a list that means UK based companies cannot call your number. Unfortunately this will not help if you are getting calls from companies based outside of the UK.
I had a serious problem with this when I spent an extended period in India this year. I was only there for five months so I just tried to live with it, but it would be a major headache to deal with on an indefinite basis.
Some smart phones will allow you the option to block certain numbers, making this the easiest option if one specific number is constantly hassling you. If the messages are coming from a variety of sources you could perhaps get in contact with your service provider.
Something that you should be particularly wary of are those messages that claim you can stop further messages by replying to the initial message. If the message is from a reputable company, you should be okay to go ahead and reply. If the message comes from a real spammer, however, you definitely do not want to reply as doing so will simply let them know that your number is active and you will get an avalanche of new calls and messages.
In my experience social media is the place where you are least likely to suffer from getting hit with SPAM. Okay, Facebook runs ads on the side of the page that can be a pain, but they are pretty innocuous. Spammers will also sometimes tag me in Instagram, but this doesn’t happen all that often either.
The biggest problem I have found on social media is the SPAM that comes from your actual “friends.” You know, those people who just don’t get that you aren’t all that interested in seeing their every meal or being invited to every single even that they are organising or going to themselves.
In most cases you can simply unfollow people without un-friending them by clicking on one of their posts. This can be a bit awkward if they are also one of your friends in real life and seem perplexed when you’re not all that up-to-date with everything they’ve been sharing on-line, but that’s something you’ll just have to deal with.
For those people who are spamming you with invite after invite, you may need to take the next step and put them on your block list. Just pay a visit to your Privacy Settings to quieten these guys down!
Image credit: Don O’Brian @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/dok1/2607573904/