Why am I getting so much spam email?

Have you ever asked yourself why spam or phishing emails keep showing up in your inbox? There are several possible answers – and a few things you can do yourself to help stem the tide of spam.
Man drinking coffee and looking at computer screen with spam email
There is an overall increase in spam emails, but also ways to stop getting junk emails

Why do I keep getting spam emails?

First, the bad news. Although some spam emails are not very sophisticated and are therefore easy to identify, some spam is created by skilled individuals who use their talents for evil rather than good because it pays. These spammers keep coming up with creative new ways to sneak their emails into your inbox. For example, think of all the fake emails that appear around the holidays pretending to be from a delivery service. Cybercriminals have learned to imitate legitimate companies so well that they often can trick not only users, but the email program’s spam filter.

And if you have the feeling that you are getting more fake emails, you may be right, because numbers are on the rise. In 2022, cybersecurity firm Proofpoint reported that end users received 30 million fraudulent emails pretending to be from Microsoft, the most-faked brand. This was closely followed by tens of millions of fake emails that looked like they came from other brands, the most common being Google, Amazon, DHL, Adobe and DocuSign. And although a secure email provider like mail.com filters out 99.9% of all incoming spam before it reaches your inbox, if overall spam volume rises, so will the number of cleverly disguised emails that slip through.
Bonus explainer: Emails that pretend to come from a legitimate company are usually a type of spam known as phishing. Such messages can be dangerous rather than simply annoying: the spammers pretend try to trick you into entering your password and/or other access data. Or sometimes the message will contain malware links or attachments. If you’d like a refresher on phishing emails, see our explainer on Phishing emails: How to protect yourself

How to stop getting spam emails

In addition to the general increase in spam emails being sent, here are four reasons you may be receiving more spam than usual. And now for the good news: there are steps you can take to resolve each of these issues.

Don’t delete: Move spam emails to your spam folder instead

If one of these fake emails – or any type of spam message – makes it into your inbox, your first instinct may be to click delete. But when you see a spam message, it is actually very important to send it to the spam folder. This is the only way to train your personal spam filter, which remembers certain characteristics of “bad” mail – like the subject line, sender address, and the frequency in which certain words occur  – so that an incoming email that meets the same criteria will go straight in the spam folder in the future.

Please note that even if you diligently train your personal spam filter, spam emails can still sneak into your inbox. But although it is not a foolproof system, sending an email to the spam folder also has the positive side effect of giving feedback to the IT security team behind the filtering system. This helps with faster detection and identifying which spam problems to prioritize. So, new hacking methods can be addressed and more effectively stopped.
Good to know: mail.com spam protection is activated by default in your mail.com account. If you’d like to double-check that your spam filter is activated, go to Mail Security in your email settings. We strongly recommend that you keep the spam filter always turned on.

Be aware of where you share your email address

The simplest and most effective way to avoid spam is to be sparing and mindful of how you share your email address. The less often you give out your email address (e.g. to sign up for a sweepstakes, to receive a discount, in public internet forums or your social media profile), the less likely it is to end up on a spam list. So if you just can’t resist that 20% discount, consider setting up a second (or third!) email address to use as an alias.
Pro tip: If you’d like to learn more about how additional email addresses can help your inbox spam situation, check out our explainer: How multiple email addresses boost your security

Subscriptions: Some junk mail may be your own doing

You may be a bargain hunter who likes receiving discount codes or a news junkie who subscribes to several newsletters by your favorite columnists. But if you don’t keep up with all your newsletters, your inbox can quickly be flooded and so cluttered that you miss important emails.

This is annoying, but not technically spam. So, it’s not a case for your spam filter. Instead, you can set up your own filter system that automatically sends certain incoming emails to a custom folder called something like “Newsletters” or “Coupons”. To keep the contents of these folders from getting out of hand, you can use the folder settings to define how long emails should be kept in the folder before automatically being sent to the trash. If you’d like help with this, see our explainers on How to Create and use Email Folders and Automatic Filter Rules.

You may also notice that you are subscribed to newsletters that you no longer have time for or interest in reading. Give your inbox a break and opt out by using the unsubscribe link that all companies are required to include. Just be careful to only click unsubscribe in a newsletter you know is legitimate. As discussed above, some dangerous, malware-containing spam may look almost identical to an annoying-yet-genuine marketing spam email.

Don’t let spammers know you got the message

If spammers have any indication that their email went to a real live recipient, your email address becomes more of a target for future spam. So, try not to open spam emails or click their links, and never, ever reply to a spam email! Another trick you can try is to deactivate automatic image downloads for incoming emails. This also deactivates some tracking pixels that many senders include to be able to tell if you open an email.
Good to know: In your mail.com account, go to E-mail Settings > Security > External Content to deactivate automatic image downloads. (Don’t worry, you can still activate image downloads in individual, trusted emails by clicking “Show all” at the top of the message.)

We hope this article helps you with your spam issues! And if you still don’t have an email account with mail.com, you can sign up for free here.
Images: 1&1/Shutterstock

51 people found this article helpful.

Related articles

Last minute holiday greetings: Should you send and open ecards?

Black Friday: Up to 20 percent more spam

What is a mailer daemon – and why did my email bounce back?