My wife and I have never received more than three or four spam emails each week for over two decades. Recently we started getting large volumes of spam. We are with BT but tend to use eM Client for our emails using the IMAP system. eM Client can dump these into Junk and blacklist the domain, but this does not stop the spam emails, which are now five a day at least. Neither BT nor eM Client nor Sophos (our anti-virus company) have any ideas about how to stop this happening, other than to get a new email address. Do we just have to live with it? Mike
The short answer is that you just have to live with it. However, different email services have different levels of spam blocking, so you would probably see less spam if you got a new email address. First, your new address would not be on any of the mailing lists used by spammers – at least for a while. Second, you could use a service that blocks more spam, such as Google’s Gmail or Microsoft’s Outlook.com (aka Hotmail/Live mail).
You are using a btinternet.com email address, so I presume that your emails are actually being handled by Yahoo. In my experience, Yahoo’s blocking is less aggressive than either Gmail or Outlook.com, so you would probably benefit by switching.
The drawback is that these email services also tend to put more legitimate emails in their junk folders. Sometimes my Gmail and Outlook.com spam boxes have more legitimate emails than spam.
Switching to Gmail
It’s not hard to switch to a Gmail address, because it can retrieve emails from your BT address, and you can use Gmail to send emails from or on behalf of your BT address.
Once you have set up a Gmail account, click the cogwheel on the top right, select Settings, and go to the “Forwarding and POP/IMAP” page to set “Enable IMAP”. Remember to click “Save Changes” at the bottom of the page.
Next, click “Accounts and Import”. The second option on this page is “Import mail and contacts”, which allows you to “Import from Yahoo!, Hotmail, AOL, or other webmail or POP3 accounts.” You will obviously have to give Gmail your email address and password so that it can fetch your old emails. (Outlook.com has similar features.)
The next option is “Send mail as”, which enables Gmail to send emails from your old email address. You can elect to “reply from the same address to which the message was sent” but I’d recommend setting Gmail as the default address. This will encourage your contacts to use the Gmail address rather than your old BT Internet address.
Sorry to say, I’m not sure how eM Client will handle this. I looked through all the eM Client options without finding a way to set a different email address. I also used eM Client to send a test email, but it sent it using my Gmail address, not the default email address I use on Gmail (which uses my own domain name, not gmail.com). However, you can always select an email address when you write an email in eM Client.
Note that if you use an email program instead of the web interface, BT Yahoo mail will not download the contents of your spam folder by default. This will prevent you from seeing any legitimate emails that have been blocked. See Using BT Yahoo’s anti-spam features for details.
You can also tell an email service to forward all your emails to a different inbox – in your case, from BT Internet to Gmail, for example. Spam emails are generally not forwarded.
Incidentally, Google has just announced a new smartphone feature called Gmailify, which lets you Gmailify a “Yahoo! Mail or Hotmail/Outlook.com” account. Your linked account will then get Gmail’s spam-blocking without you opening a Gmail account. Presumably, Gmailify is aimed at people who have limited technical abilities. I think it would be better to open a Gmail account and add your old account as described above, but if that sounds too hard, maybe Gmailify is the answer.
Protecting your new address
The secret to keeping your email inbox mostly spam free is not to tell anyone about it. This is impractical, but you can at least give your address to as few people as possible. In particular, don’t post it online where it can be harvested by would-be spammers. Also, don’t forward things like chain letters or cute pictures of furry animals: if you do, you could be sending your email address to hundreds of people you don’t know.
Avoid opening spam emails, don’t allow spam emails to load pictures, and never click on links in spam emails. Emails can include web beacons, web bugs or tracking pixels that tell the spammer you have accessed an email and therefore that your account is a live one. More spam will follow.
In Gmail, you can tick the box next to an email and then click the Spam button in the toolbar to get rid of spam without opening it. This also helps Gmail to identify the same sort of spam sent to other people, which is why you should never mark legitimate newsletters as spam.
Don’t give your email address to companies you don’t trust. And when you do give it to companies, make sure you are not opting in to marketing emails, newsletters and other bumf.
Some people set up separate mailboxes for newsletters and marketing emails, but reputable companies almost always provide a simple way to unsubscribe if you change your mind.
You can use another Gmail feature to provide one or more customised addresses. For example, if your email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, you can give someone an address such as email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Gmail ignores anything after the plus sign and delivers these emails to your inbox as normal. However, you can set up filters to divert or delete them.
You could even use a different +based email address for each company, so you’ll know if one of them sells your email address. But I think this is more trouble than it’s worth.
As things stand, the better email service providers, including Google and Microsoft, are doing the bulk of the work in blocking spam, and they stop the vast majority from even reaching your spam box. There’s very little that an individual can do to improve on that, beyond the simple measures described above.
It’s best to accept that some spam will always get through, but if you’re only getting five a day, it’s not worth worrying about. Just delete them and concentrate on the more important things in life.
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