Spam and Scams

Everyone hates spam. About 90% of the email sent around the world is classified as spam. According to Spamhaus, a leader in the prevention of spam, Spam is defined as unsolicited bulk email. An electronic message is "spam" if (A) the recipient's personal identity and context are irrelevant because the message is equally applicable to many other potential recipients; AND (B) the recipient has not verifiably granted deliberate, explicit, and still-revocable permission for it to be sent.


There are a few ways to combat spam.

UCCS email:

UCCS has an appliance called Proofpoint that blocks a majority of spam that comes to our email servers. In fact, Proofpoint blocks almost 1 million messages a day from getting to our inboxes. You have the ability to look through your spam messages if you wish and also report spam. For more information on how to do this, go here: http://www.uccs.edu/~helpdesk/proofpt.html

Non UCCS email:

If you use your work email, there may be mechanisms in place, just like UCCS has put in place to combat spam. Check with your IT department for tools to combat spam. If you use Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail, AOL Mail, etc, they also have ways of fighting spam. There is usually a "Report Spam" button that you can use to report spam and remove it from your inbox. Each time you click "Report Spam" it helps the spam system learn what spam is and how to identify it.

Viruses contained within Spam

Some Spam messages that you may receive may look like legitimate email, but probably aren't. A recent trend seen even here at UCCS is users receiving Evite invitations that contain a link that will go to an Evite page with a virus on it or even contains a virus in the email itself. For example I'm looking at my personal Gmail account right now. I have a message in here from Jana Jaramillo. The subject is "Evite Invitation from Jana Jarmillo". I have no idea who Jana Jarmillo is, additionally, Gmail has flagged the message saying that the message contained a virus and I shouldn't download the message.

Quick Facts from the FTC:

Some email users have lost money to bogus offers that arrived as spam in their in-box. Con artists are very cunning; they know how to make their claims seem legitimate. Some spam messages ask for your business, others invite you to a website with a detailed pitch. Either way, these tips can help you avoid spam scams:

  • Protect your personal information. Share credit card or other personal information only when you're buying from a company you know and trust.
  • Know who you're dealing with. Don't do business with any company that won't provide its name, street address, and telephone number.
  • Take your time. Resist any urge to "act now" despite the offer and the terms. Once you turn over your money, you may never get it back.
  • Read the small print. Get all promises in writing and review them carefully before you make a payment or sign a contract.
  • Never pay for a "free" gift. Disregard any offer that asks you to pay for a gift or prize. If it's free or a gift, you shouldn't have to pay for it. Free means free.

Additional resources:

Online Scams - http://www.spamhaus.org/faq/answers.lasso?section=Online%20Scams#126
Spam help - http://www.spamhaus.org/faq/answers.lasso?section=Generic%20Questions
OnGuardOnline.gov - http://www.onguardonline.gov/default.aspx
FBI - http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/e-scams