This isn’t a commercial or paid endorsement, but it’s going to read like one. Rest assured I’m merely a happy long-term customer. 🙂

Worried about your email address being exposed to spammers after last weekend’s Epsilon breach? Fed up with the spam you already get? Read on.

I intentionally use separate email addresses for various purposes (one for newsletter subscriptions, one for online shopping, etc.). But I’ve used the same primary email address since 1999. No surprise, then, that at one point I was getting 600+ spam emails every day.

That was (barely) manageable on my desktop mail client with the junk filter activated, but once I got a smartphone in 2004, game over. (Ever try deleting 600 emails on a Treo, making sure NOT to delete the ones you want to read or save? Ouch.)

Drowning in email, I turned to a web-based service called SpamArrest. After configuring it and leaving it to churn through my inbox overnight – I usually leave email on the server for 10 days after reading – the result was BLISS. Virtually no spam.

SpamArrest operates based on a whitelist. Upload your address book and everyone in it is considered pre-approved. Get email from newsletters, schools or online stores? You can pre-approve entire domains. Send an email, and the recipients are automatically added to your whitelist. Anyone NOT approved is given a Captcha challenge (you can customize the accompanying text) to prove that they’re human and not a bot. You can also permanently block given emails or domains.

Known spam is stopped before it ever gets to you. If SpamArrest isn’t sure whether a given email is spam or not, it pops it into an “Unverified” folder and keeps it for a week for you to examine at your leisure. By default it will consider anything coming from your own email address to be unverified (since many spammers spoof their recipients’ emails as the senders’), unless you direct it otherwise.

You can even read and send email from the SpamArrest website if you wish (helpful when you’re away from your own computer/device).

SpamArrest isn’t free – prices start at $3.75/month – but more than pays for itself, IMO, in savings of time and aggravation. It does, however, offer a 30-day free trial if you want to try before you buy. (Disclosure: that’s an affiliate link, and I’ll get a credit if you end up subscribing. If you’d prefer to navigate directly to without using my link, the same free trial awaits you.)

Even if you use SpamArrest or a similar provider, email may make its way into your inbox because it appears to be from a company (Chase, CitiBank, Target, TiVo) with which you’ve done business. Keep in mind:

  • These companies will never ask you to provide or “reconfirm” sensitive information via email. Don’t fall for it.
  • If you want to make sure that you’re providing your information to the right website, type in the URL yourself (as opposed to clicking on it in an email) and make sure you’re on a secure (https) page.
  • One way to check the links in an email is to hover over them. If the URL displayed is different than what’s represented in the text, do not click.

When in doubt, contact the company yourself by telephone or email.

Be careful out there!