Olympia -- Attorney General Christine Gregoire today called for an aggressive, sustained and comprehensive assault against spam by government, industry and consumers.
Gregoire spoke at a press conference where Microsoft announced 15 lawsuits against alleged spammers. Thirteen of the lawsuits are U.S. cases and allege violations of Washington's anti-spam laws. Two were filed in the United Kingdom.
"Spam is no longer just an annoyance," Gregoire said. "It is threatening the credibility and profitability of legitimate e-commerce and it is inundating us in our homes with unwanted pornography, computer viruses, and get-rich-quick schemes that are nothing more than consumer frauds."
Noting that spam is now the number one consumer complaint to her office, Gregoire said, "We need to make life tough for spammers, just like they are doing to families and businesses all over the world."
She called for a partnership of business, government and consumers and said spammers should have to be prepared to defend themselves in court, overcome increasingly effective anti-spam technology, and face better educated consumers.
Gregoire suggested the following tips for consumers:
- Avoid using your e-mail address when filling out Web registration forms, surveys, etc. If you must provide your e-mail address, look for a box that asks if it is okay to send you offers or information. Make sure you say "no."
- Contact net directories such as WhoWhere.com, 411.com and Switchboard.com and request that they remove your name, e-mail address, and other personal information from their databases.
- Contact your Internet Service Provider. Authorize it to disclose that you have a Washington e-mail address.
- Avoid posting your e-mail address in chatrooms, newsgroups, or on auction and sales sites. Spammers often send scavenger bots (programs that "harvest" e-mail addresses) to these sites.
- Don't list your e-mail address directly on a Web page, even your own. Use an alias or a secondary account that you can delete later if necessary.
- Avoid responding to spam, even if you are asking to be "removed" from a mailing list. Responding can increase the amount of spam e-mail you receive because spammers know your address is active.
- Switch to an Internet Service Provider that offers spam filtering.
- Read and understand the entire form before you transmit personal information through a web site. Some web sites allow you to opt out of receiving e-mail from their "partners" - but you may have to uncheck a pre-selected box if you want to opt out.
- Decide if you want to use two e-mail addresses, one for personal messages and one for newsgroups and chat rooms. You also might consider using a disposable e-mail address service that creates a separate e-mail address that forwards to your permanent account. If one of the disposable addresses begins to receive spam, you can shut it off without affecting your permanent address.
More tips and information on spam is available on the Attorney General's Web site.