How to Find Out Who is Spamming You

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September 28, 2006 | 14,983 views

Have you ever wondered how you get spam? Now you can find out where it comes from. The first step is to get a free Gmail account. 

Gmail was in beta for two years and it was a major status symbol to have a Gmail account because you could only be invited to get one.

Now that it is out of beta, anyone can get a free account.

Gmail has an interesting quirk in which you can add a plus sign (+), followed by any additional text, after your Gmail address, and it'll still get to your inbox.

This feature is called plus-addressing, and it essentially gives you an unlimited number of e-mail addresses to play with. The really cool feature is that all these new addresses you make up on the fly come to the SAME inbox. The major difference: You can see which plus-address it was sent to, and therefore know where the e-mail came from.

The easiest way to do this would be to use the name of the company or service you were signing up at. Say your address was and you were signing up at Monsanto. You would simply sign up as and it would still come to your inbox.

The difference: If you started receiving e-mails to that address from companies other than Monsanto, you'd know Monsanto sold your address and was spamming you.

The beautiful thing about this system: You could put a filter on those plus-addresses so all of them would go into your spam folder and you would never have to see them again.

This really is a nifty trick that you should consider using. It essentially creates unlimited disposable addresses. If one of them does get caught in some spam flurry you can configure Google to filter all of those directly to spam and you will never see them.

Not surprising that Google would come up with an innovation like this. I have been a longtime fan of them and was one of the first few thousand people to start using it shortly after it went beta out of Stanford in September 1998. I had already had my newsletter for one year.

It was obvious then that Google was far better than anything else out there, and the company has continued to excel. Their commitment to excellence, integrity and focus is a model for all of us who have Web sites. Google has played a major part in transforming the way we find things in life, conduct business, send e-mail, and use computers.

Just so you know, I have no particular connection to the Google organization myself. Like most of the things I do on the site, the only reward I receive from continuing to recommend them is the joy of having provided a service that will improve peoples' lives in some way.

It is a pattern I seek to live my life by, as I have found that the rewards for such an approach are profoundly amazing.

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