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Tips for End-users on Handling Spam Emails

Spammers collect your email address and verify that it is a valid address before they start sending spam emails to you. To reduce the possibility of receiving spam emails, you must protect your email address/account and your computer. The following are some tips:

  1. Be careful in disclosing your email address or personal information:

    • Do not disclose your personal information too readily, including your email addresses;

    • Check the privacy policy of websites or companies before you provide any personal information when filling out web registration forms, online surveys, etc. Look for options that allow you to unsubscribe from receiving emails on offers or other marketing information;

    • Be careful when subscribing to free email account services, especially when filling in the account profile. Check the terms and conditions of the email service, especially their privacy policy; and

    • Do not publish your email address on public websites, contact directories, membership directories, or chat rooms.

  2. Tips for using email account:

    • Whenever feasible, use separate email addresses for different purposes. For example, use one email address for public newsgroups or chat rooms, and another for personal email messages; and

    • Avoid using an email address that contains simple dictionary words, or common names. Spammers can use brute-force technique to guess valid email address at a specific domain using words from dictionaries, or combinations of common words.

  3. When checking your emails:

    • Don't be caught by the spammers' favourite tricks, such as the use of subject headings like "Remember me?" that try to trick you into thinking you should know the sender;

    • Be cautious when opening emails and email attachments, especially when receiving emails from strangers;

    • Simply delete emails from unknown senders or dubious sources because your reply or click on any link in the email message from an unknown source, you are confirming to the unknown sender that your email address is a valid one;

    • Check the "sent" folder or outgoing mailbox of your email programme (or webmail account) to see if there are any outgoing messages that were not sent by you. If there are such messages, your computer may have been hacked and used by spammers to send emails from your computer. You should disconnect from the Internet immediately and scan your computer with anti-virus or anti-spyware software (make sure the software's signatures are up-to-date); and

    • Do not be caught out by the spammers' favourite tricks, such as the use of subject headings like "Remember me?" that try to trick you into thinking you should know the sender.

  4. Tips for protecting your computer:

    • Use anti-spam solutions offered by ISPs or install email filters to reduce the amount of spam emails you receive;

    • Install and enable anti-virus software, and keep it up to date using the latest virus signatures. Enable real-time detection to scan for computer viruses, malicious code for active processes, executables and document files that are being processed. Schedule a full system scan to run regularly, based on operational needs;

    • Install and enable personal firewall software; and

    • Apply the latest security patches/hot-fixes released by product vendors to the operating systems and/or applications installed in your computer.

  5. The Unsolicited Electronic Messages Ordinance: Guide for Public

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