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2 ways in Gmail to find out who’s spamming you

In spite of all the spam filters and intelligence that email service providers have built over time, so much spam still lands in your Inbox. Ever wonder who’s letting your email address land in the hands of the spammers?

Gmail has these two features which can do exactly that for you by identifying the source of your spam email and be very effectively used to counter spam. Once you know the source of your spam, you can pursue closing your accounts with the source website/app or reach out to them to raise your concern or find another way to stop the spam.

The two features

The first feature of Gmail is that period(.) in your email address is effectively ignored by Gmail. Therefore, placing period anywhere in the email address will not route the emails to anyone else and still land the emails in the right account. Therefore, if you have an email address first.last@gmail.com, all emails sent to fir.stlast@gmail.com or firstla.st@gmail.com will still successfully land in your email account. In fact, if you rid of period altogether, that will still work i.e. firstlast@gmail.com is perfectly valid email address for your email account with gmail.

The second feature is where you can suffix anything after a plus sign (+) in your email address and that would still land emails in your email account. For example, first.last+amazon@gmail.com or first.last+netflix@gmail.com are legit email addresses if your email address with Gmail is first.last@gmail.com.

Why are these useful?

The reason these two features are useful to you is for one simple reason. The key source of spam are some of the websites and web forms where you give our your email address. By allowing you to arbitrarily suffix other text to your email address, Gmail allows you to give out separate unique email address every place to register or share your email address. Therefore, you can give all of the eCommerce websites a separate email address suffixed with the name/acronym of the website and give all of your social media accounts separate email addresses with similar suffixes. You could use the same approach when you share your email addresses for events. If certain places do not allow you to enter a plus sign (+) in the email address field, all you need to do is move the dot (.) to a different unique position and make a note of it for your reference.

Having done this, for all spam emails you receive, the To address field will clearly tell you who the culprit is and you can consider closing your account with the untrustworthy business who’s out making money out of sharing your information with other businesses – whether legit or not. You could also extend this and use the To field to create rules in your Gmail account.

Let me know if you want to hear on anything else around this subject.

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