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Email Etiquette

Protect yourself and your friends

Do you ever wonder why you get viruses and/or spam and junk email?  Don't you hate it?

Do you really know how to forward email?  Most of us do, however some may not.


Forwarding Email

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, and all it takes is for ONE person on the list of recipients to get a virus.

Hackers and spammers write virus programs that use other people's computers - and therefore other people's email addresses - to send out spam. That way, the spammers' addresses do not appear in the FROM field. Instead, the FROM field address is that of the infected computer. They are using someone else's machine to SEND their spam out. - and their spam email can get sent to every email address that has come across the infected computer.  To the other people on your list - or to YOU - it appears as if the email came FROM the infected machine - because it DID come form that machine. Because of that, it will get through Spam and/or Junk Mail filters more easily. If yours is the infected machine that is sending the spam and/or infected email out (and you don't even know it while it is happening) you may receive "undeliverable message' notices back even though you did not knowingly originate the email in the first place. The more computers your email address gets sent to in the TO: and Cc: fields, the more chances there are for spam and virus infection to you and to everyone else on the list.

Another use of email addresses is that someone can take all of the accumulated addresses and sell them or send junk mail to them from another machine - without using a virus sending program - possibly in the hopes that a large number of people will go to a particular site so that they can make a few cents for every hit.   That's right, all of that inconvenience over a few cents! How do you stop it?  Well, there are a couple of easy steps:

(1) When you forward an email, DELETE all of the other addresses that appear in the body of the message (at the top).  That's right, DELETE them.  Highlight them and delete them, backspace them, cut them, whatever it is you know how to do.  It only takes a second.  (You MUST of course 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 on "Forward" first, you won't be able to edit the message at all.)

(2) Whenever you Send or Forward an email to more than one person, instead of using the TO: or CC: fields for adding email address, use the Bcc (blind carbon copy) field for listing the email addresses. (Unless you are sending/replying to a small 'select group' in a 'conference mode' and wish to have replies visible to everyone.)  By using the BCC: (blind carbon copy) method for listing the email addresses, the people to whom you send will only see their own email address and you will not be sending everyone's email address out to everyone else.


If you do not see your BCC: address field, click on HELP and search for how your email program will display BCC

If you use some older Outlook versions: go to the View menu option and check the BCC Field menu option. 

If you use Word in Outlook (this applies to versions of Outlook that come with XP and Vista): click the 'Options' menu (found on the same menu bar as your 'Send' button and click 'Bcc'. From then on, the Bcc.. field will show up when you click 'New' email or 'Reply' (or Reply All).

Another alternative to show the Bcc field is to click TO: and start typing in the Bcc field of the 'Select Names' dialog.  When you send to BCC: your message will automatically say "Undisclosed Recipients" in the "TO:" field of the people who receive it. (Unless there is one more addresees in that field also.

(3) Remove any "FW:" in the subject line.  You can re-name the subject if you wish or even correct spelling.

(4) ALWAYS hit your Forward button from the actual email your reading. That will prevent sending out those emails that the recipient(s) have to open 2 or more pages just to read the one page with the information on it.  By Forwarding from the actual page you wish someone to view, you stop them from having to open many emails just to see what you sent.  If you don't have a Forward Option when viewing the original message, then highlight the body of the message and copy and paste it over to a new email. 


Email 'Surveys' and 'Petitions'

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.

These surveys and petitions actually have no value as far as the subject matter goes - and worse, can and usually have a negative effect:

A FACT: The completed petition is actually worth a couple of bucks 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. 



Following these simple suggestions will cut down greatly on the junk mail you and your correspondents receive and can help reduce the possibility of virus infections spreading rapidly to you and other people on your distributions lists.


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