Several "big name" genealogy sites, along with thousands of other web sites, like to send e-mail to you. The "offending sites" include Amazon.com, Buy.com, BestBuy.com, CompUSA.com, Travelocity, and several of the larger and smaller genealogy sites. If you ever ordered from them or signed up for a newsletter or simply inquired about something, you likely found your e-mail in-box littered with frequent advertising e-mail messages time and again for years. I made a purchase from one online site and then received DAILY e-mail ads from them, until I took actions described in this article.
Disclaimer: This newsletter's site at www.eogn.com does NOT send unsolicited advertising messages.
Technically, these messages are not spam mail. According to the generally accepted "rules of engagement" for sending bulk mail, companies are allowed to send advertising messages to individuals with whom they have a relationship. The term "relationship" is a bit vague, but most interpret it to mean that it is legitimate to send advertising e-mails to present and former customers or even to anyone who has ever inquired about a company's services.
Legitimate or not, the flood of such messages in one's inbox can be offensive. It is common to check e-mail and find five, ten, or even more messages from companies that you recognize, all trying to persuade you to buy something from "this week's unbelievable specials." Whether this constitutes spam mail or not, it is intrusive and often is unwanted.
When ordering, you could supply a fake e-mail address to these sites in order to avoid future e-mail messages. However, that means you miss their shipping notifications, backorder notices, or other follow-up questions. Typically, the company sends you a receipt via e-mail or sends a password to your e-mail address to verify that it is a legitimate address. The problem is that these companies save those e-mail addresses and then send all sorts of future advertising messages to each address, whether the recipient wishes to receive such advertising or not.
Another scenario is when you want to download free software from a site. In order to download the software, you must give a valid email address to receive the software serial key. You download the file but must retrieve the software serial key from your e-mail inbox. This is the point where the spam circus begins. If you give your personal email address, you probably will receive advertising e-mails in the future.
Even worse, many of these companies sell their e-mail address lists to others, including spammers. Because you placed an order at one legitimate web site, you then end up with lots of messages of "M a k e M o n e y F a s t" or "B u y p r e s c r i p t i o n d r u g s o n l i n e" and other such junk from all sorts of scam artists.
There is a simple solution.
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