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Microsoft Secure

A few weeks ago we told you about 4 ways that spammers can get your email address. Readers sent in a few more tips.

Anonymous writes:

It’s always good to have another email account setup that you use when you register for things on the web.

Paulie D. writes:

Another way is harvesting. We’ve all received a forwarded email joke or similar message where the first hundred lines are a historical list of everyone that clicked FWD. That very email will end up in the hands of a spammer. Spammers “harvest” all of the visible addresses out of the email, likely using an automated tool. All the addresses harvested are then permanently added to their spammer database, courtesy of your friend who didn’t have the courtesy to Bcc (blind copy) you.

Another Anonymous elaborates on Paulie D.’s suggestion:

Every time you forward an email there is information left over from the people who got the message before you, namely their email addresses and names. As the messages get forwarded along, the list of addresses builds, and builds, and builds. Someone can take all of those addresses and sell them or send junk mail.

How do you stop it? Well, there are several easy steps:

  • When you forward an email, delete all of the other addresses that appear in the body of the message (at the top). You must click the “Forward” button first and then you will have full editing capabilities against the body and headers of the message. If you don’t click “Forward” first, you won’t be able to edit the message at all.

  • When you send an email to more than one person, do not use the To: or Cc: fields for adding email addresses. Always use the Bcc: (blind carbon copy) field for listing the email addresses. This way the people you send the email to will only see their own email address. (Editor’s note: Check your email Help file to learn how to use the BCC field.)

  • Remove any “FW:” in the subject line. You can re-name the subject if you wish or even fix spelling.

  • Click your Forward button from the email you are reading. Ever get those e-mails that you have to open 10 pages to read the one page with the information on it? By forwarding from the actual page you want someone to view, you stop them from having to open many emails just to see what you sent.

  • Have you ever gotten an email that is a petition? It states a position and asks you to add your name and address and to forward it to 10 or 15 people or your entire address book. The email can be forwarded on and on and can collect thousands of names and email addresses. The completed petition is worth money to a professional spammer because of the wealth of valid names and email addresses contained therein. If you want to support the petition, send it as your own personal letter to the intended recipient. Your position may carry more weight as a personal letter than a laundry list of names and email address on a petition.

  • Before you forward an Amber Alert, or a virus alert, check them out before you forward them. Most of them are junk mail that’s been circling the net for years. Just about everything you receive in an email that is in question can be checked out at Snopes. Just go to


For more antispam tips, see Help keep spam out of your inbox.


Thanks, readers, for sending in these great suggestions. Feel free to post other suggestions in the comments section below or use the Email Blog Author under Common Tasks.