If you’ve had an email address for a while, the chances are that you’ll be receiving some level of junk emails. Unfortunately, no one is immune to SPAM; however, email providers are getting better at recognizing them and automatically categorizing them as SPAM before they even hit your inbox. In 2021, it was estimated that nearly 320 billion emails were sent and received every day, and 45% of those were deemed as SPAM emails.
It’s frustrating seeing the number of unread emails in your SPAM folder, but why are they there? How did those senders get your email address? And why should you avoid unsubscribing from the emails in your SPAM folder?
Why do emails go into your SPAM folder?
SPAM emails come from people or organizations who are trying to get something from you, such as your personal information, money, or asking you to take a specific action such as clicking on a link or opening an attachment. But how does your email provider recognize this and automatically filter them into your SPAM folder?
Email providers like Gmail, iCloud, and Yahoo have complex spam-identification processes and algorithms that aim to catch out the following email types:
- Email addresses that look nearly identical to a known sender - EG using a ‘0’ instead of a ‘o’.
- No content in the message - these are often to check if the account is active and may kick off an onslaught of additional SPAM emails.
- Known phishing scams where people try to get personal information out of you.
- Marked as SPAM previously - whenever a user marks a sender as SPAM the email provider is able to update their algorithms and send similar future messages into the SPAM folder.
- Unconfirmed sender.
How do SPAM senders get your email address in the first place?
Unfortunately, there is a big industry around SPAM emailing, and therefore senders will go to extremes to gather your email address to initiate a SPAM or phishing campaign against you. Here are some of the ways they could have gained access to your email address:
- Data breaches exposing your email address.
- Identifying your email address through social media.
- Purchased from a data broker.
- Accidentally gave it up through a phishing email.
- Data harvesting bots.
Why you shouldn’t unsubscribe from emails in your SPAM folder?
We recommend that you leave your SPAM or Junk folder alone as much as possible and let your email provider work their magic. Simply opening certain phishing emails tells the sender your account is active and can initiate a whole wave of future phishing emails. Rather than improving your situation, it can make it a whole lot worse. Instead, we encourage you to concentrate on clearing out the email newsletters that aren’t being flagged as SPAM but that you don’t want to be subscribed to.
What should you do with your SPAM email then?
So, if we’re saying you shouldn’t unsubscribe, then what should you do? Well, most email providers will automatically delete any email in your junk folder every 30 days. So actually you don’t need to do anything. The simplest course of action is to just leave it to your email provider to delete SPAM emails on your behalf and ignore that folder entirely.
Alternatively, you can simply delete all your SPAM emails yourself without opening them or clicking on any links within the copy. Both courses of action will prevent any potential harm to your computer or device as well as stopping the sender from confirming your email address is active.
How to unsubscribe from unwanted emails hitting your inbox
Any email provider’s SPAM-identification process is not foolproof, and often our inboxes can still be cluttered up with marketing, sales emails that we simply don’t want or the occasional phishing email that slips through the net. So what should we do with these unwanted emails hitting our inboxes?
- If you think the email that is sitting in your inbox is a phishing email then immediately report it to your email provider and delete it. We’ve pulled together this resource to help you recognize and stop phishing emails.
- Once you’ve identified that the unwanted email is not a scam, but simply a piece of marketing you no longer want to receive, follow the instructions on the email to manually unsubscribe. If manually unsubscribing sounds like a chore, then services like Leave Me Alone can make the process easier and faster through a simple integration and management dashboard.
- Using a third-party email filtering tool alongside your email provider’s own SPAM filters will help add an additional layer of protection to your inbox. Leave Me Alone’s Inbox Shield screens out spam, unwanted newsletters, phishing and cold-emails, and anything else you don't want to get in your inbox.
Four Tips to Protect Your Email Address against Phishing and SPAM
- Use a website like ‘Have I been Pwned’ to see if your email address has fallen victim of a data breach.
- Trust your email provider to filter out any SPAM before it hits your inbox and instead concentrate on clearing out the unwanted emails you’re still regularly seeing.
- Recognise the signs of a phishing email, don’t respond to it and report anything suspicious to your email provider. If an email looks suspicious NEVER click on any links within the content of the email, even the unsubscribe link.
We all know that SPAM emails are annoying, and seeing the number of unread emails in your junk folder can be worrying. However, remember that if those emails are going into your SPAM folder automatically, they’re not doing you any harm, and the safest course of action is to take no action and allow your email provider’s SPAM management procedure to play out.
If an email appears in your main inbox, which you think poses a risk of being a phishing email, then you must take the necessary steps to protect yourself. Do not click on any links in the email, do not reply to the email, check the sender's email address, and then report them to your email provider. Additionally, we recommend using a simple third-party tool to add a further layer of protection to your inbox.