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If you have an email address, you've likely been spammed with unsolicited commercial messages. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to get rid of this electronic junk mail, but there are steps you can take to reduce the amount of unwanted spam and precautions to take to avoid falling victim to bogus offers slipping into your in-box.

Here are some steps you can take to reduce spam:

  • Use an email filter. Most Internet Service Provides now offer spam filter tools that let you designate the email addresses you want to receive in your in-box and divert messages from unfamiliar sources into a separate folder.
  • Never respond to unsolicited email. Your response is likely to trigger more spam to your email address.
  • Do not send personal information (e.g., credit card numbers, Social Security Number, passwords) in an email. Using spam, identity thieves will try to trick you into disclosing confidential information. These scams are known by such names as "brand spooking" and "phishing."
  • Never sign up with sites that promise to remove your name from spam lists. While some sites are legitimate, many are simply seeking to harvest your email address.
  • Before submitting your email address, check the website's privacy policy regarding the sale of your email address to a third party and your ability to opt out of such commercial uses.
  • Consider using two email addresses to limit public exposure. One email address can be used for more public activities such as chatrooms, newsgroups, online membership directors and business transactions. The other email address can be for personal messages and less likely exposed for harvesting for spam.
  • Complain to your Internet Service Provider to alert them to problems on their system. You also may want to complain to the sender's ISP for possible termination of service for these email abusers.

In the fight against spam, the Attorney General filed the first consumer protection lawsuit on behalf of the state against a California company and two owners/operators for sending unsolicited, commercial emails in violation of state law.

Since 1998, California has prohibited individuals and companies from sending commercial email to those who have neither requested nor consented to receive the email, or with whom they do not have an existing business or personal relationship, unless:

  • The sender has either established a toll-free telephone number that recipients can call to stop future emails or included a valid email address that recipients can contact to stop future emails; and
  • The subject line of the email begins with the four characters "ADV:" designating it as commercial communication, or "ADV:ADLT" designating it as sexual, adult material.

Protecting Consumers

State & Federal Laws

You can search California laws on the Internet

California Law

View a checklist of significant California consumer laws

CA Dept of Consumer Affairs

Search U.S. laws on the Internet at U.S. Code

U.S. Code

Fight Spam, person at computer

You can report being spammed to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Send a copy of the unwanted or deceptive messages to spam@uce.gov.
FTC's Complaint Assistant.

Megan's Law

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