Spam, or junk, email is any email that you don't want and haven't requested.
How to tell if it is a hoax
Sometimes spam emails can be difficult to recognise as they can seem to relate to something local to you.
Even though it may seem to relate to you personally spam emails are usually sent to a huge number of emails at the same time. They often get your email address from websites, newsgroups, chatrooms or they may simply have guessed what your address is.
If you did not request an email and you don't recognise who it is from it may be a spam email.
How to prevent spam emails
Advice from the Information Commissioner's Office website is to:
- be careful who you give your email address to
- consider having separate personal and business email addresses
- choose an email address which is difficult to guess
- don't advertise your email address
- check privacy policies and marketing opt-outs carefully.
Reduce your spam emails
It's almost impossible to avoid spam emails other than by changing your email address but you should:
- avoid responding to spam emails
- don't click on the adverts in spam emails
- use a spam email filter on your computer
- keep your systems well maintained - make sure you regularly update systems that fix known problems
- check privacy policies and marketing opt-outs carefully when entering your email address online.
More information is available on the ICO website's advice on spam emails.
Report spam email
The ICO is responsible for enforcing the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations which prohibit the sending of spam emails. However since there is so much spam the ICO can't investigate every case.
Do not forward your unwanted spam emails to the ICO. Instead, read the how and when to complain leaflet and then complete the complaint form if it's a matter the ICO can look into.