first I thought it was just me, just my mail box. The amount of spam, or
unwanted commercial e-mail, was getting ridiculous. But then I started
getting calls: ďSusan. What can I do about this %^#@!
spam?Ē Itís happening to everyone. Weíre being pursued by junk
Spam Punisher is a shareware program that automates the process of sending
complaint letters to the ISPs (Internet
of people who send you unsolicited commercial e-mail.
Before I describe how the program works, a few caveats:
||This is not the program you want to invoke against a friend (soon to
be former friend) who is indiscriminate with the forward-to-everyone-I-know
button on his or her e-mail program. Deal with that privately.
||Itís also not a fair way of extricating yourself from mailing lists
for which you enrolled. Legitimate businesses often correspond with their
customers. Responsible ones provide clear instructions on how to stop the
flow of unwanted mail, should you tire of it.
||Whatever you do, donít attempt to stop spam by replying to the sender.
This just confirms that they have a live e-mail address, and is likely
to increase your traffic, not put an end to it.
Start by opening up the offending e-mail. This is a trick I didnít know:
press the Ctrl+F3 buttons on your keyboard. This will open up a new window
that will display all of the routing information for that message, including
the IP address from which it originated.
Next, perform your second new trick. Click anywhere on the text and
press the Ctrl+A key combination. All of the text will be selected. Finally,
press Ctrl+C to copy the data onto your Windows clipboard.
Now youíre ready to engage Spam Punisher. Open the program, position
your cursor in the big white Window on the left of the screen and press
Ctrl+V to paste the text into Spam Punisher. Click on the UPDATE
button, and the program will scan through the message to ferret out the
IP Address. Click on CHECK THIS IP and the ISPs data appears in the right
hand pane. Finally, click on SEND COMPLAINT and Spam Punisher automatically
generates a properly addressed complaint letter to the ISP, including the
text of the offending message. Press the REPLY ALL button on your e-mail
program, then send the message.
The makers of Spam Punisher claim that ISPs donít take kindly to spammers
and may admonish them, or even cancel accounts.
The program isnít perfect. About half of the messages I attempted to
process didnít disclose an e-mail address for the ISP and the Spam Punisher
advised me to contact them by other means. Thatís too much trouble Ė itís
easier to hit the delete button. I havenít noticed a decrease in the amount
of spam Iím getting, either, but then, I really didnít expect to. For me,
the joy of this program is the knowledge that Iím at least taking action
and not sitting idly by while people waste my time.
Spam Punisher is donationware, which means itís free
but theyíd be really happy if you sent them $20 so they can continue to
develop the software to make it better. You can download it from BioSolutions
. Itís a quick download: only 339 KB. Itís a zipped file, so youíll need
to run WinZip or another decompression program before you install it.
It works with virtually any flavor of Windows. It operates very
well as I described it with MS Outlook and Outlook Express. If you are
using Netscape Mail you will have to VIEW PAGE SOURCE (or, Ctrl+U) to gain
access to all of the required mail headers. The instructions are fuzzy
if you use a different mail program or read your mail through an online
reader such as HotMail. If it works with HotMail or Yahoo Mail, I couldnít
figure it out.
If you want to learn more about unsolicited commercial e-mail and how
to put the brakes on it, visit Fight Spam
or Junk Busters
. Either site will lead you to more information.