Ten Rules for safe and polite E-mail

1. Never, open E-mail from someone you don’t know or weren’t expecting E-mail from.

2. Never, NEVER, NEVER (Did I mention Never?), NEVERRR! Open E-mail attachments EVEN FROM PEOPLE YOU DO KNOW unless you were expecting them. The reason: Their computer may have an email-sending virus. Nonsensical subject lines are a dead giveaway.

3. Get an Antivirus program and make sure you keep it updated. There are free ones available that are every bit as good as the overpriced ones. I use AVG Antivirus. You can get the free version Here.

4. If you use Outlook Express or Outlook, disable the preview pane. Some E-mails can execute a virus from the preview. Scan your new E-mails and delete any suspect E-mails BEFORE you start reading them. Consider an alternate eMail program. I use the free program Thunderbird. It has better security and a nicer look than Outlook Express.There are also plenty of free add-ons for customization.

5. The FBI, CIA, NSA, UPS, FedEx, your bank, PayPal, eBay, Microsoft, the Nigerian Lottery Commission, or anybody else will not send you an E-mail asking for your password, credit card number, Social Security number, to wire them money, or to offer you a security update. All such E-mails should be regarded as fakes. Do Not Open Attachments from them either! Reputable companies do not send unsolicited attachments. If you’re not sure whether it’s a fake or not, forward it to spoof@(company it’s supposedly from) and see. Visit the company’s website by typing the address in the address bar, not by clicking any links.

6. You will get junk E-mail (Spam). You can reduce it to manageable proportions by choosing an E-mail provider such as gmail (they have some of the best spam filters on the planet), using your Internet Service Provider’s (ISP) anti-spam settings (Check with your ISP, they vary in this), don’t give your address out to anybody you don’t want E-mail from (sounds silly, but all kinds of places will ask for it!), and if you do any online shopping, consider getting a second, free E-mail address (Yahoo or another, secondary gmail address) for shopping and other stuff. If something gets through the filters, your email provider probably has a way to mark such messages as spam. Do this enough, and your spam will decrease.

7. Never, Never respond to Spam! Reputable merchants you have bought something from will send you promotional E-mails. This is not Spam. You can unsubscribe from reputable E-mails. Look for an unsubscribe link at the bottom. Responding to Spam only makes it worse- Now they know your E-mail address works.

8. Remember that email is not a secure form of communication. Despite what you’ve heard about the NSA lately, it never was. Email is sent “In The Clear”, which means it’s just as easy for someone to snoop on your email as it is to steam open an envelope. For this reason, do not send credit card numbers or other sensitive information via email.

9. Don’t forward that latest “virus warning”, “product safety alert”, “dying kid’s last wish”, or anything else that tells you to send it to everybody you know. These are almost universally hoaxes. Some can do real harm, but at best they are nothing but gossip. Delete them. If unsure, you can check the urban legends reference site at snopes.com.

10. Be polite to your E-mail buddies. Instead of sending a ton of pictures in an email, consider putting them in an online gallery, such as Picasa, Dropbox, Facebook, or just start a photo blog on WordPress.com, where the blog you’re now reading is hosted.

Instead of forwarding that joke that’s been forwarded a thousand times, copy and paste just the joke into a new E-mail. And use the BCC (Stands for Blind Carbon Copy- you can send copies to everybody, but nobody knows you sent it to anybody else!) function on your E-mail so your recipients don’t get a message cluttered up with everybody else’s E-mail address (Some folks are very sensitive about that, and I don’t blame them!).

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