Topics Map > Applications & Software > Email and Calendaring

Frequently Asked Questions for Junk E-mail


This document provides answers to frequently asked questions regarding the types of junk email and which types pose a potential threat.

Click on the links below to skip directly to a section:

1.     Junk Email

Junk email, also known as spam, is unsolicited email, usually commercial. It can strain networks, clog email servers, and fill mailboxes with unwanted and possibly offensive messages and images. Most of it is annoying, but harmless. Most junk email will be blocked by the email server that hosts your account.

2.     Phishing

Phishing is a specific kind of junk email that's used to obtain private information for use in identity theft and other scams. The email message appears to come from a trusted source, such as your bank, and often includes the actual business logo and an apparently legitimate reply address.

3.     Graymail

"Graymail" is generally characterized by newsletters, sales pitches, and stuff trying to pass as legitimate marketing. It's a result of your address(es) getting on marketing lists, and then being sold to other email marketers. These messages are particularly difficult to get classified as spam because they are usually being sent on behalf of otherwise legitimate companies (for varying degrees of "legitimate"), and there are many recipients who consider the messages completely legitimate.

4.     Backscatter

'Backscatter' is the name given to bounce back messages generated when a spammer uses your mail address in the 'From:' line of their messages. This does not mean they have access to your account, however, if you feel your account has been compromised, please change your password. If the spammer's message can't be delivered for any reason, the receiving host will send back a bounce or non-delivery report to the address in the 'From:' line.

If a spammer sends a large number of messages, you may receive literally hundreds or thousands of 'backscatter' messages.

5.     Spoofing

When a spammer uses your address as the "From" address, but they are not sending from your account, this is called 'Spoofing.' This means that they are just using your address so it appears that you sent the message, though the header information will often display the true sending address. For more information about 'Spoofing', please review this article:

6.    Legitimate spam

There are a couple of options for dealing with legitimate spam in your "Junk Email" folder:

  • Do nothing:Messages will automatically be deleted after 30 days.
  • Delete:Like any other message, you can delete it. Deleted messages will go into your "Deleted Items" folder

7.    Misidentified spam message

If a message in your Junk Email folder is one that you want to keep, you will be able to mark the item as not junk and the item will be moved to your inbox.

  • Outlook on the web: Right click the item in your Junk folder you would like to keep and click Mark as not junk.
  • Outlook Desktop Clients: Select an item in your Junk folder and from the ribbon click Junk and click Mark as Not Junk or Not Junk depending on the version of Outlook

8.   Prevent getting spam?

The only way to not get spam is to make sure that spammers do not know your e-mail address or make them think that your account is not being read. There are many ways that you can try to limit the amount of spam you receive.

  • Unsubscribe from the mailing list if the organization is reputable(you should be able to tell from their web site if they have one). Have you ever filled out one of those web forms and forget to check whether the "Send me Info" box was checked or unchecked? It's usually set on by default.
  • Don't reply to spam messages and don't click the link that says "unsubscribe" if company is not reputable. Spammers often use this to verify that your address is valid. They rarely remove your address from their mailing list; or if they do, then they may just put you on another list.
  • Create custom rules If you can reliably detect a specific pattern or content within these messages, you can try creating a unique inbox rule to automatically detect and filter these messages. Learn more

Additional Resources

Related KBs:

Get Help

  • Click HERE to contact UW Shared Services or HERE for the IT Helpdesk if you have any issues with these instructions. 

Keywordsapplications,software,email,calendaring,information,technology   Doc ID105499
OwnerEric B.GroupUW–Shared Services
Created2020-09-01 13:35:02Updated2023-11-01 16:24:28
SitesUW–Shared Services
Feedback  0   0