How to Avoid SPAM

Please also see our Spam Detection Service for more information.

Avoid Giving Your Email Address Unnecessarily

Be careful who has your email address:

  • Don’t give your email address when filling out web registration forms, surveys, and other online documents unless you wish to receive mail from the sponsoring organization.
  • Check a website’s Personal Information Collection Statement (“PICS”) or Privacy Policy Statement (“PPS”) before filling in online forms to find out how the website will use your email address .
  • Subscribing to a public mailing list means, anyone on that list can a simple command to display other addresses on the list, so send a request to the list administrator to shield your email address from this.

Do Not Respond

If you receive SPAM, do not reply to it, as this may result in more unwanted email. Simply delete the message. Sometimes an “opt-out” option are mentioned in the SPAM. These are rarely effective, other than reassuring the spammer the message reached its target.

Filter Mail

While you can’t stem the flow of junk mail completely, using filters can reduce the number of unwanted messages. Most mail programs will allow you to filter messages based on criteria that you select, such as the email address pattern from which the message was sent or keywords in the body of message. You can design your criteria so most unwanted messages will automatically be put into a junk folder or deleted immediately. However, designing a set of criteria suitable for all your needs can be difficult, and there is always a risk that a useful message may be wrongly filter. It is therefore good to check your junk folder before deleting. To set up message filters, visit the “Help” section of your mail application.

Make a Complaint

In certain cases, you may want to complain to the administrator of the site where the spam originated. Most reputable sites have anti-spam policies and will disconnect services provided to spammers. To seek assistance or send complaints to the internet service provider, refer to this sample message and do the following:

  1. Determine the real origin by viewing the full header of the message.
      • Thunderbird: Select “View –> Message Source”
      • Outlook: Open the message and select “File–> Properties –> Internet Headers”
      • PC-Pine: Select “Message –> Header Mode” or press “h” key
  2. Note the domain name of the internet service provider from the sender’s email address
    • e.g. domain 123abc with email address
  3. Mail the complaint message to the internet service provider. The usual email address is: postmaster@domain or abuse@domain

Most spammers try to hide their identity. Free services provided on the internet (such as can help you file an accurate complaint to the right person, without disclosing your identity to the spammers. If you believe the SPAM originates within HKUST, you can report to the case to for further investigation. Most spammers do get complaints. However, it is not difficult for them to return under another name or service provider. The problem is compounded by the casual email services freely available on the internet. So stay alert!