Dealing with Spam That Gmail’s Filter Doesn’t Pick Up
We all get the occasional spam leak. Google’s filter does an exceptional job of weeding out spam, whether it be Nigerian princes who need your social security number to wire you thousands of dollars, or the less suspected threats and fluff emails. However, there’s never been a perfect system—spam doesn’t always derive from botted email accounts and automatons, making newer scam attempts and junk emails with new or improved premises more difficult to intercept. This is where it falls to you, my fellow internet warrior. Let’s task tackle together and come out on top. Here’s what you need to know:
Be honest with yourself—was that whole reward card setup process really worth saving $0.77 at Sur La Table? Most people have newsletters and reward club leaflets flooding their inbox, and I’m willing to bet that you’re one of us. (Welcome to the club. I’d get you a jacket, but I can’t find the box under all this spam mail.)
You’ve got subscription services and newsletters brimming from the darkest corners of your inbox. You probably remember signing up for most of them, but then we get a bug in the system—there’s been a leak! You start receiving, (or have been receiving and just haven’t noticed until now,) a whole mess unrelated content that you can’t even trace back to your own decisions. That’s right; someone has sold your email address. To say that this is a rarity would be a lie. It’s far more common than you think, and 99% of the time, completely legally done. All you can do is manage your own resources to weed out the spam, right?
Wrong. I’m going to explain three different paths to eliminating spam from your inbox that Gmail filters simply don’t pick up on. Strap in.
The Least-Aggressive Method: Filter + Whitelist
Unless it’s a trusted website or source, you can’t always be certain that clicking that “unsubscribe” button at the bottom of your newsletters actually removes you from these company lists. In some cases, it leads to even more spam. You don’t want to waste your time or expel energy on these aggravating and accumulating emails; there are some solutions for this.
Priority inbox—I use this feature, and have since it’s inception. It’s absolutely pinnacle to cleaning up the wasteland formerly known as your inbox. After a short amount of time of sifting through the junk (and, of course, no longer giving out my email address for anything,) the priority inbox learns what is and is not important. It’s a rarity that anything important gets thrown into the wrong category. You can opt for five options; primary, social, promotions, updates and forums. It’s heavily recommended to utilize each of these tools for maximum effectiveness.
- Primary: Personally-written emails with no or minimal corporate affiliation
- Social: Updates from your Twitter or Facebook page
- Promotion: Advertisements that aren’t considered spam; promotions you might be interested in based on your subscriptions
- Updates: Things of a semi-important nature that aren’t trying to sell you anything. (I get PayPal information, for example, through this tab.)
- Forums: Rarely used, but related to website forums
Using these tabs is your first line of defense. Your second: whitelisting. You can always enable Gmail to only allow email from certain websites or addresses, inevitably “locking” your account to the more secure and stable level. Everything else is going to end up in the spam, and that’s one thing to keep in mind if you do decide to go the whitelisting route.
Middle-Grade Method: Getting Your Hands Dirty
It’s not as menacing as it sounds, I promise. If you know where the unwanted messages in your inbox are coming from, it’s a whole lot easier to single out these sources and put a stop to them. When simple whitelisting doesn’t do the trick, you’ve got to get your hands dirty and get personal. That’s right; direct contact.
With services such as MailChimp and ConstantContact, you can submit an abuse report, and these guys will actually do their job and take care of it. After all, their reputations are built on email marketing; they can’t afford to be listed as masters of spam. You can often research the services your spam-senders use and directly contact them. If you can get a hold of someone there, request to be a put on a company-wide blacklist. It’s one giant stop in the river’s flow of spam mail. When you get into a level of personal involvement, especially in a world of automated services, it speaks volumes about your desires to be free of unwanted emails.
When all else fails, we go back to the automated route, only this time, the tables have turned: you’re in the driver’s seat. Services like Unroll.me and The Swizzle are perfect for cleansing your inbox of all that junk, maintaining a clean inbox for the future, and all work as promised. The reviews on these services speak for themselves.
Fighting with Fire: Contacting ISP’s and Unveil Email Address Fraud
If you look in the headers from some of these spam messages, you can sometimes find the IP address of these aggravating heathens. From here, if you do a quick reverse lookup, you can find these repeat offenders and report them to their own internet service providers. Keep in mind, this should only be done if you’ve requested that they disconnect you from their subscription service, and they have refused to do so. It borders on revenge, but you need to do what you need to do.
You can always report individual messages as spam in an attempt to further educate your Gmail inbox about your preferences; it’s a building block atop the primary message system. In no time at all, whether you’ve taken the less-aggressive path or had to fight fire with fire, you should be on your way to a clean and cohesive inbox that serves your actual email needs.
Then again, if it’s bad enough, you could always begin an entirely new email address with these safe practices in mind.
Until Next Time,