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Steve Tuzeneu
Sonshine Media

Your E-mail is a Spam Magnet

 

 

 

 

I expect when you read that headline you thought, “Huh? I don't think so.”  Whatever you're thinking, you and your station may be doing things in such a way as to make your e-mail address a spam magnet.

 

Have you ever checked your e-mail at the station and thought: “Where is all this spam coming from?”  If you are like most people, you don't spread your e-mail address all over the internet, but you are still getting all those obnoxious Viagra and Cialis offers practically every day.  Or how about the really trashy stuff like the girl who invites you to see her newly posted pictures?  Those disgust me.  I know where they're going with THAT one.   The funniest spam I get is from the dear old lady who wants to leave me twenty million dollars to do the work of the Lord.  I also get e-mails informing me that I am the beneficiary of a huge estate, and all I have to do is send them my contact details. Yeah right!  Can you say scam?

 

So how did these people get your e-mail address in the first place?  Well, the answer is simple:  you posted it on your station's website!  That's right!  It's out there where everyone can find it and add it to a mailing list.  Large numbers of people visit your website and copy e-mail addresses manually for their own use or to sell to someone else.  Other people use software to capture your e-mail address from your website.  Did you know that companies sell software that harvests e-mails from websites every day?  As I write this article, I have an advertisement open in my browser.  It's by a company called Lead Tools Direct, based in Rockland, California.  They sell software for a one time fee of $79.00 that extracts e-mail addresses and contact information from websites all over the internet.  You can buy this software to target businesses or consumers.  

 

Now you must be thinking, “What can I do about this?”  Excellent question.  For starters, don't post anyone's e-mail address on your website - remove those e-mail addresses right away.  As mentioned before, software robots are working around the clock to collect those addresses.  Instead, use a form.  Some companies and radio stations will send visitors to another page when they click on the “contact” link.  On that page is a form where they enter their name and e-mail address, and below that, in a text box, the message they wish to send.  But before you can do that, you need a thing called a “CAPTCHA” page.”

 

For the definition and a visual display of what a “CAPTCHA” is, visit: www.captcha.net.  On that site, you will get a bit of history and an explanation of why it is used.  If you don’t have it already, this would be an excellent tool to use on your website to drastically cut down on spam.  Since “robots” can’t read images, they can't fill out your CAPTCHA form and send you spam.

 

In addition, you may wish to close out some e-mail addresses and create new ones.  Instead of john@wnut.com, you may need to delete that one and create a new one for John something like this:  jsmith@wnut.com.

 

It is difficult to get off of mailing lists once your e-mail address has been passed around to spammers, so the steps I have mentioned will help put a stop to it.  It will take a visit with your station's webmaster, some time to set up a contact page with the “CAPTCHA” feature installed, and a policy of keeping staff e-mails private, but it's worth the time and effort when you don't have to be busy deleting mail you don't want.

 

Steve Tuzeneu is an experienced radio station manager and engineer and is the Director of Engineering for Sonshine Media, LLC.  You may reach him at: steve@sonshinemedia.net