Spam emails can be blocked by creating inbox filters, reporting and blocking mail addresses, and using third party spam protection. In the worst case, junk mail is a common channel for malware and phishing attacks. BBC News reported an explosion of phishing attacks among web users in recent events, with over 18 million emails blocked on Gmail servers per day.

Avoid opening suspected junk mail, clicking on links within a questionable email, or responding in these situations. Doing so is the fastest way to become vulnerable to these types of attacks. Use antivirus software as an additional layer of protection to defend against viruses on your home network.

How to Stop Spam Emails

Stop spam emails from invading your inbox by using your email host’s built-in spam filters, reporting spam emails, unsubscribing to promotional emails, and not publishing your email address. The dangers of spam go beyond just an annoyance. In some cases, opening and clicking on links can result in malware, phishing attacks, and other viruses you’ll have to remove.

Spammers use databases of email addresses gathered from a variety of sources. There are a number of ways these databases can gather these addresses. If your address was compromised, a few reasons could include:

  • A subscription to a website that shares information with third parties.
  • A website you previously subscribed to had a security breach.
  • The address was mined from comments posted on forums and blogs.

Create Inbox Filters

Internet service providers and email hosting services provide built-in spam filters. Most filters will automatically filter potential spam emails, but it can be useful to further train the filter by indicating incorrectly marked spam as ‘safe’ and spam that was not detected as ‘spam’. Create personalized filters and rules within your email host to weed out unwanted emails.

Create Email Filters For Gmail

To create an email filter in Gmail, select the arrow dropdown, located next to reply, for more options. Choose “filter messages like this”. Gmail auto-populates its own rules, including what happens to the email after it’s been filtered.

how to mark emails as spam in gmail

Create Email Filters For iCloud

Within your iCloud account, open the mail dropdown and select preferences. In the pop-up window, choose the rules tab. Personalize your filtered messages by adding conditions and indicate the action to perform when found.

screenshot of how to create email rules in iCloud

Create Email Filters For Outlook

In Outlook, personalized filters are called rules. When an unwanted email is received, right-click to create the rule. Follow the same sequence to indicate the action to perform to some or all of the emails that meet the specified criteria.

screenshot of how to mark something as spam in outlook

Report Spam Emails

When a spam email makes its way into your inbox, report it. Don’t open the email, click links inside of the email, or respond. Doing so indicates to the spammers that a human is behind the address and the spam emails will persist. By reporting these emails to your host, it helps automatic filters better identify unwanted mail as scammer tactics evolve for your own inbox and other users.

If there isn’t the option to report spam readily available, send the message to your email provider and state the complaint. If you can recognize what mail provider the spammer is using, forward the message to that provider.

Unsubscribe to Promotional Emails

Most promotional emails aren’t considered spam since you solicited your email for a product or service, and companies typically don’t abuse this information. However, specific clauses in the privacy policy may indicate they have permission to share your information.

Before signing up for marketing and promotion emails, read the site’s privacy policy and confirm whether or not they share information with third parties. If you find you’re receiving too many promotional emails, unsubscribe to the ones that are no longer relevant. You can also filter the type of promotions you receive so emails with relevant information are sent without an influx of unwanted mail.

search the privacy policy for partner companies that buy your dataCreate Another Email Address

Signing up and registering with websites using a personal or business email address can lead to spam in your inbox. Instead, create a separate email with a free service specifically for sign-ups, online purchases, and subscriptions. When creating the address, avoid obvious and identifiable sequences so spammer software cannot easily identify the address.

Don’t Invite Spam

Displaying your email address in plain text on your website or social media profiles can result in unwanted spam. Spiders and spammer software can crawl web pages and websites and compile any identifiable addresses which are then sold to third parties. Instead, opt for contact forms that use a Captcha on your website.

spiders crawl web pages to compile email addressesIf you’re already receiving spam messages, avoid opening, clicking on, and responding to the email. Spammers use tracking pixels and worse, they can integrate malware and phishing schemes into their links. When an email is opened, or there is interaction, the pixel can nod to the scammer that there is a human behind the address, resulting in more spam. Instead, immediately mark the mail as spam.

How to Manage Your Email Inbox

You want to curb spam mail, but still like the promotional emails from your favorite brands with exclusive discounts. So, how do you discern one from the other?

  • Spam emails: Spam emails are unsolicited and often used as a ploy for malware and phishing tactics. Spam may use hidden scare tactics in the copy and ask for money from its unsuspecting readers.
  • Promotional emails: Promotional emails are solicited. If you signed up for exclusive discounts, but receive an email from the same company, that’s a promotional email. This mail is often less bothersome since it typically offers discounts, exclusive content, and a simple opt-out option.

spam emails versus promotional emailsEffectively managing your email inbox is simple once it’s no longer flooded with junk mail. Create filters and rules to immediately file promotional emails into the correct folders once they hit your inbox. That way, you can come back to them when you’re looking for a new product, discount, or newsletter.

Keep an eye out for these common types of spam emails:

  • Fraudulent emails: Cybercriminals will pose as a government agency, large brand, or bank and will generally attempt to get money from the contact.
  • Phishing attacks: These attacks often lure the user to provide sensitive information via email.
  • Email viruses: Email viruses will solicit a link with dangerous malware to steal sensitive information and remotely control a device.

For spammer tactics and helpful tips to save your inbox, view the infographic below.


With automated technology advancing every day, learning how to stop spam emails is crucial to protect your online identity and it only takes a few steps. From there, email hosts and service providers can filter your inbox. For an additional level of security, use complicated passwords that don’t follow an obvious sequence, and use additional password protection to keep hackers at bay.

Sources: Statista 1, 2 | FTC