Do you bank online? Do you store or use passwords on your computer or the Internet? Do you send personal information in emails? Do you conduct business on your computer? If you answer yes to any of these questions you could be putting yourself at risk just by opening some spam emails.

Whether you use Outlook, Outlook Express, MSN Hotmail, AOL, Eudora, Thunderbird™ or any other email program you will be likely exposed to some spam and other junk email. Spam is not just an annoyance. It can be dangerous! Simply opening and reading a spam message can open you to viruses that can damage your computer and the information that is on it. Spam that has spyware attached is the most often used way for criminals to gain access to your computer and more importantly the private and personal information you have on it. Just because you receive spam, doesn’t mean it has to be a problem for you. Follow these rules to reduce or eliminate the SPAM and junk email you receive and protect yourself from the unwanted emails you do receive. 1. DELETE. If you don’t recognize the sender, just delete the email. Do people you don’t know ever really send you ‘important’ email? 2. DELETE. If the email asks you to ‘click here to verify your account,’ just delete the email. No reputable company will ask you to provide confidential information through an email. If your account has really been ‘compromised’ you will get a phone call or postal letter, not an email. 3. CONFIRM. Okay, you really think someone may have gotten into your bank account and your bank needs you to ‘verify’ your account. All you have to do is make a phone call and confirm that the email is legitimate. Go directly to the website for the company supposedly sending you the message. (IMPORTANT: Don’t rely on the link in the email since the contact information could be fraudulent. Type in the company’s web address or Google™ them). Look for a Customer Service or ‘Report Fraud’ number and call it. If the email is real, they will know, otherwise refer to Rule 1 or Rule 2. 4. DO NOT UNSUBSCRIBE. The ‘unsubscribe’ link on most SPAM email is really just a ‘confirm your email address so we can get more money selling it to other SPAMMERS’ link.

Unsubscribing to SPAM won’t reduce your volume of email and in most cases will actually increase the amount you receive. If you want to unsubscribe to an email list that you signed up for at some point but just don’t want to receive it any longer (technically not SPAM) go to the company’s website and unsubscribe. 5. PROTECT. Install Anti-Spam software such as LIST AFFILIATE LINKS HERE or use an internet service provider or email service who does this for you. Find an email provider that provides spam filtering. Remember though, even with the best protection, some SPAM gets through. When it does, refer to Rule 1 or Rule 2. Follow these simple rules and you can take control over spam. Aubrey Jones is President and founder of Riverbank Consulting, Inc. Since 1996 he has worked to protect internet banking clients for one of the top US financial institutions.

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