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Spam: junk email on the Internet
Internet users are increasingly being overwhelmed by a flood of unsolicited advertising. Spam emails are not only annoying because it takes a lot of unnecessary time to read, sort and delete the garbage. Spam also has a cost. In addition, such messages can contain viruses or harmful programs that install themselves on the computer when the e-mail is opened and can spy out access data, for example for online banking.
We have summarized the most important information about spam for you:
Where does the term spam come from?
Spam is originally a “Spiced Pork and Ham” brand name for canned meat from an American company. It wasn't until a sketch in the British comedy series "Monty Python's Flying Circus" that spam became a synonym for mass e-mails: In the three-minute sketch, the word spam is used more than 120 times, making any conversation impossible.
What types of spam are there?
Spam appears most commonly as commercial promotional email. The widespread phishing emails are particularly sneaky: camouflaged with fake names, logos and websites, the spammers pretend to be reputable credit institutions in order to elicit secret data such as personal passwords, credit card details, PINs and TANs from the recipients.
Also the number of so-called Malware emails steadily increasing. These are emails that have malicious software such as viruses, worms and Trojan horses attached to them. They damage computers and affect the overall functioning of the Internet.
Are dangerous too Dialer programssent via spam. With chain letters and hoaxes (so-called joke reports), spammers burden electronic mailboxes worldwide by sending warnings and calls, which in turn are intended to induce good faith recipients to forward these e-mails on a massive scale.
How do the senders of spam mail get to the appropriate addresses?
The spammers have randomly or systematically generated addresses. Address trading is very common: spammers buy or rent the data they want from address traders. In addition, spammers use various programs that systematically search web pages for e-mail addresses or filter out existing e-mail addresses by testing random combinations of letters and common surnames.
How do I prevent spam?
The most important technical preventive measures include virus protection programs, anti-spam filters and a computer operating system that is kept up-to-date through updates.
Users can also limit the receipt of spam through careful behavior: When choosing their own e-mail address, make sure not to reveal full names. In addition, users should guard their e-mail addresses as if they were banking secrets and, if possible, only share them with people they know personally.
In addition, it is advisable to set up a second e-mail address for legal transactions on the Internet (online shopping, online auctions, etc.), which can be deleted at a later point in time if necessary.
How do I recognize a spam email?
Spammers often use false subject lines such as "Re: Your registration" or "Class reunion" and fake sender addresses. They pretend to be friends, work colleagues or reputable companies in order to establish a personal connection with the recipient and to induce him to open the mail. The file attachments in the spam mails often have the extensions .exe, .com, .pif or .scr.
What should I do if I have received a spam email?
Spam mails should never be opened and should always be deleted immediately. Users should deactivate the preview function of their e-mail program and check the subject line and the sender of the e-mail before opening an e-mail.
File attachments from unknown senders should never be opened. Mails that ask you to click on the links should be ignored. This also applies in the event that further unsolicited (advertising) mails are canceled. Anyone who replies to spam e-mails or clicks the links provided there risks receiving countless other advertising mails.
When is the sending of advertising emails permitted?
In principle, only those who have expressly given their consent may be contacted in the context of e-mail advertising. Until the consumer objects, the requirement of consent is waived in the context of an ongoing customer relationship if it involves so-called electronic direct advertising for a similar product or service of the sender and the consumer has been sufficiently informed of his right to object . This results from § 7 III UWG. If neither of the two cases is present, the email is unsolicited and therefore unreasonable within the meaning of the law against unfair competition.
Despite express consent or electronic direct mail within the framework of an existing customer relationship, the sending of e-mail advertising is always not permitted if the identity of the sender is concealed or there is no valid address at which the recipient can unsubscribe.
In addition, the sender and the promotional character of the message must already be recognizable from the header and subject line of the email. A corresponding obligation is regulated in Section 6 of the Telemedia Act (TMG). A violation of the obligation can be punished with a fine of up to 50,000 euros (§ 16 Paragraph 1 and 3 TMG).
How do I defend myself against spam afterwards?
Spamming is illegal. If private individuals are harassed with unsolicited advertising emails, there is a violation of general personal rights. If companies are harassed with unsolicited advertising e-mails, it is an interference with the established and exercised business operations.
In the event of a violation, an injunction can be asserted. In addition, consumers have the right to have their personal data deleted. Here you will find a sample letter for the injunction against the sender of a promotional email.
Since sending unsolicited emails, especially so-called phishing emails, can indicate a criminal offense, a criminal complaint should be considered in appropriate cases.
What are the consequences of spam for private users?
Retrieving and sorting out spam e-mails costs time and money: the number of spam e-mails often clogs up the mailbox or completely blocks reception. You also have to buy and install anti-spam filters.
Where can I complain?
Affected consumers can complain to the eco association.
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