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Security & privacy

Email trick: See what sites are selling your data

The first spam email was sent in 1978 to 600 people. That opened the floodgates to more than 120 billion spam emails being sent every single day. Estimates have calculated that as much as 85% of all emails sent are, in fact, spam.

That is a huge amount of unwanted mail. It not only clogs up your inbox but also slows down the internet trying to process it all. To put that in perspective, it costs businesses $20.5 billion every year to combat the problem. Tap or click here to check if your email address is spreading spam.

To find the biggest culprits, look no further than the U.S. Research company Spamhaus concluded that seven of the 10 biggest spam companies in the world are American. But why do you get so much lately? Keep reading for an easy trick to figure that out.

Here’s the backstory

Spammers get hold of your email address through several means, but the most common method is buying contact lists. Every time you sign up for an app or a service, your details could be sent to third-party advertisers.

Thankfully there are several ways for reducing the amount of spam that you get. Email providers like Gmail are increasingly effective in filtering it out, but some messages will surely slip through.

Some will directly go to your Spam folder, but others could use different tactics to end up in your personal folder. Generally, there is no real danger in receiving spam — just don’t open it.

Expose where the spam originated

Here is a clever Gmail trick to find out where spam is coming from. Whenever you sign up for an app or service, put a + symbol and a unique identifier after your username and before the @ symbol. It should look something like this: [email protected]

This works because Gmail disregards anything after the + symbol but still delivers mail to the address. If you then receive a spam email addressed to that sender, you can easily see which app is the one that sold you out.

There is another way to approach this as well. Some apps won’t allow for the + symbol, so an easy trick to that is putting a period in your email address. You could do something like [email protected]

You won’t be able to do this with every app to keep track of your data, but you can move the period to a different place for each app. Then plot down the combinations and the corresponding email address to see where the spam came from.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much else you can do about it. You will be able to determine who sold out your data, and by setting up a filter in Gmail, you can automatically delete them.

Keep reading

iPhone warning: Frustrating new spam scheme keeping people up all night

How to stop junk text messages and spam for good

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