How to report spam emails—A concise guide

Spam isn’t only frustrating but also potentially dangerous. Learn how to report spam emails and avoid falling victim to common attacks.
In their most benign form, spam emails are an annoyance that fills your inbox and distracts you. More commonly, though, they’re a sign of malicious activity aimed at stealing your personal data.While most email providers offer spam detection, it’s not always reliable enough to protect you. You should report spam emails to the relevant authorities and handle them wisely to avoid falling victim to phishing and similar attacks.If you need help, this guide will explain where you can report spam and how to do it. You’ll also learn how to protect yourself from suspicious messages and safeguard your correspondence and data.
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Where to report spam emails

Law enforcement is rarely involved in spam emails unless they have escalated to criminal levels, in which case significant damage has already been done. Luckily, this doesn’t happen often, so you’ll typically report a spam email to the following parties:
  1. Your email provider
  2. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

How to report email spam to your provider

The process of reporting a spam email varies between services but is typically quick and does not involve more than a few steps. For reference, we’ll outline the steps you should take if you’re using two of the most common email servicesGmail and Outlook.Gmail lets you report spam by doing the following:
  1. Open the email you want to report
  2. Click the alert button above the message
  3. Choose whether you only want to report the email or unsubscribe entirely to stop receiving messages from the sender
Source: Gmail screenshotOutlook takes a similar approach to reporting spam, though it differentiates between junk mail and phishing. Take the following steps to report either:
  1. Open the email you want to report
  2. Depending on whether the email is a phishing attempt, do either of the following:
    1. For a phishing attempt, click on the Report button above the message, which will open a pop-up
    2. For a junk email, click on the drop-down arrow next to the Report button, and choose Report junk if there are no signs of phishing
  3. Confirm your action
Source: Outlook screenshotReporting a spam email helps your provider’s detection mechanisms be more accurate. With time, similar spam emails should go to the appropriate folder automatically, reducing the risks of them reaching your main inbox.

How to report spam emails to the FTC

Spam emails are often motivated by some type of fraud, such as:
  • Financial fraud
  • Identity theft
  • Account takeover
As the above scenarios can have significant consequences on the victim’s well-being, the FTC is involved in spam issues and encourages users to report suspicious emails.You can report spam through the FTC’s dedicated online portal. You’ll be asked to provide various details to specify the problem.Much like your email provider, the FTC doesn’t resolve individual spam reports—they can only take action if you’ve already suffered identity theft or other fraud type, which you must report separately through the appropriate channels.With this in mind, reporting spam isn’t enough to ensure adequate data privacy and security protection, so you should take additional steps to stay safe.

Tips for protecting yourself beyond reporting spam emails

Due to the dangers of spam emails combined with the amount of sensitive information sent via email, it’s crucial to follow proper security practices, most notably:
  1. Understand and recognize the signs of phishing
  2. Implement two-factor authentication (2FA) to safeguard your account
  3. Choose a secure email provider

Stay on the lookout for signs of phishing

Phishing emails are designed to manipulate the victim into taking action, like sending private information or logging into their account through a spoof page. Some of the tell-tale signs you’ve received such an email include the following:
Strange greetingsLegitimate senders typically use the recipient’s name instead of generic greetings like “Dear Sir/Madam”
Poor grammarReputable senders almost never make significant spelling errors and punctuation mistakes
False sense of urgencyPhishing emails often include threats of service suspension or similar consequences if the desired action isn’t taken
While many phishing emails are obvious, some may be meticulously crafted. Scammers typically impersonate official or well-known institutions, so if you’re unsure whether the email you received is legitimate, reach out to the sender using official communication channels for confirmation.

Use 2FA to secure your account

Phishing attempts often target the user’s login credentials, allowing the scammer to take over their account. Two-factor authentication is an effective way to prevent this because it adds another security layer to your account.You’ll get a one-time code to a trusted device that you need to enter after using your credentials. Even if someone has your username and password, they can’t log into the account, and you’ll most likely be notified of the login attempt so that you can change your credentials if needed.Note that 2FA implementation can vary—some platforms ask for your phone number, while others use an authenticator app. The latter is a more secure option because you don’t need to reveal an important identifier like your number.

Choose a secure email provider

While being targeted by spam is more related to your email activity than the provider, some services are more prone to it than others. For example, Outlook users often point out the excessive amount of spam, as the provider’s detection and other measures don’t seem to be effective enough.Gmail isn’t significantly more secure, especially because certain attacks designed against it can even bypass two-factor authentication.If you value security, you should choose a privacy-first email provider. They minimize the amount of sensitive data stored on servers, drastically reducing the chances of your account being breached.Security- and privacy-oriented services use end-to-end encryption (E2EE) to safeguard user data. This encryption method allows the provider to:
  • Protect your correspondence from being intercepted or stolen
  • Ensure no data mining takes place
Your emails are turned into ciphertext using an encryption key created and stored on your device. Only the recipient holding the mathematically-related decryption key can decipher the message, so your emails are unreadable to everyone else.Big Tech platforms (Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, etc.) don’t offer E2EE by default. If you need a provider that does, check out Skiff Mail.
Elevate your email privacy with SkiffSkiff Mail’s advanced security features combat spam and create a safe online environment
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Enjoy complete privacy and security with Skiff Mail

Skiff Mail is an end-to-end encrypted email service that implements advanced security measures to protect your emails, account data, and personal information. Each email you send is protected using two separate keys:
  • Public key—Encrypts the message and is shared with the recipient
  • Private key—Decrypts the email and is safely stored on the user’s device
Skiff can’t access your keys and doesn’t store unencrypted versions of emails on its servers, so you can rest assured only the recipient can see them.To further ensure total security and anonymity, Skiff provides the following measures:
  • Two-factor authentication—Implemented by default using the Authenticator app
  • Secure Remote Password—Encrypts your account credentials alongside critical data
  • Zero-knowledge login—Allows you to create an account without leaving any personal information
To get started, the only thing you need to do is ensure your device is secure, as this is where your encryption keys are stored. As long as you keep it safe from malware, your emails will remain private and secure.Hackers sometimes rely on the victim’s email behavior to finetune phishing attacks, so Skiff aims to prevent this by blocking the trackers used to gather information. Your IP address remains hidden by default when you open emails, which minimizes data collection.

Free to use, packed with features

Skiff Mail is a free service equipped with all the features you need to stay productive—including those commonly reserved for paid email platforms. Despite the fact that no unencrypted data is stored, it enables lightning-fast email and text search that lets you find specific details from your threads effortlessly.You also get 10 GB of end-to-end encrypted storage for your emails and files, with up to 2 TB unlockable through Skiff’s affordable paid plans.Other notable features include the following:
  • Beautifully-designed user interface
  • Filters, labels, and folders for easy organization
  • aliases and custom domains
  • Schedule and undo send
  • Integration with numerous crypto wallets
Source: SkiffSkiff’s codebase is publicly available, as the platform is open source. You can find it on GitHub or read the whitepaper for additional information on Skiff Mail’s features and security.

Collaborate securely with Skiff’s E2EE product suite

When you sign up for Skiff Mail, you’ll get access to three additional end-to-end encrypted platforms:
  1. Skiff Pages
  2. Skiff Drive
  3. Skiff Calendar
The following table provides a concise overview of each platform:
Skiff PagesA document editing tool that keeps your file’s contents and key metadata encrypted. Skiff Pages features a rich text editor, version history, and invite-based sharing to ensure smooth collaboration
Skiff DriveA secure cloud storage solution that supports files of all sizes and types. You can also take advantage of Skiff Drive’s integration with the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS)
Skiff CalendarA scheduling platform that integrates seamlessly with Skiff Mail. You can create shared calendars and leverage the built-in video conferencing tool
Skiff’s product suite features comprehensive cross-platform support—it’s available on iOS, macOS, Android, Windows, and all major browsers.
Source: Skiff

Sign up for Skiff Mail

If you want your correspondence protected by cutting-edge security measures, you can sign up for Skiff Mail in three steps:
  1. Visit the signup page
  2. Choose a username and password
  3. Explore Skiff’s E2EE suite
The aforementioned free plan should cover all your needs, but if you need more storage and features like autoreply, you can upgrade to one of the paid tiers for as little as $3 per month.

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