Seems like your Gmail spam has gotten worse lately? Here’s what to do.

Seems like your Gmail spam has gotten worse lately?  Here's what to do.

Lately, I’ve been getting more and more emails sent to my GMail inbox folder with key phrases like “confirmation receipt” (for something I’ve never bought), “you’ve been chosen” and “free”. While those words don’t mean a spam email 100% of the time, let’s be honest: They usually do. Not my luck That great, you know?

Like someone who generally love a “clean” inbox with little or no unopened notifications, getting junk emails annoys me, honestly. When they’re so obviously spam, why don’t they go to that folder?

I’m not the only one who notices that, over the past year or two, spam filters seem to have caught fewer malicious emails. Many people have posted on Reddit and Chirping on experience of the same problem.

No matter how much I try to address this problem, from reporting emails as spam to blocking spam email accounts, nothing is really fixing it. I’m obsessed with it GMail AND Google Drive otherwise (literally, how are they free?!) so I asked the experts what they think is going on and how to effectively handle this situation.

How to identify a spam email

First, let’s talk about what to spot. Many spam emails are blatantly obvious. For example, I never touch an email that asks for my bank account number or says I can “meet hot singles in my area.”

But again, spammers are learning what we are learning too. Some other signs to look for, according to the experts below, include:

  • An email from someone claiming to work for a particular company, but their email address isn’t connected to that company’s website (for example, it ends with “” instead of “@huffpost. com”)
  • An email from someone claiming to be a lawyer who holds the will of a recently deceased wealthy individual
  • Urgent language, such as “act now,” “urgent action required,” “account suspension,” “final notice,” and “limited time offer”
  • Unusual looking attachments
  • Poor grammar and spelling mistakes
  • All caps
  • Excessive use of emojis, especially in the subject line
  • Emails involving sex, money, and personally identifiable information.

Do we blame Google for not doing enough or spammers for being one step ahead?

Sometimes it’s easy to blame Google, it’s a big company after all, but at the same time, experts say we can’t ignore how savvy spammers are. “Google and spammers have a sort of Tom and Jerry relationship,” said Chris Zacher, an SEO strategist at Intergrowth. “Every time Google updates the machine learning applications that filter our emails, spammers come up with new ways to bypass their parameters.”

One way spammers do this is through a technique called “email warming,” which basically means making an email platform think the address is trustworthy. “This involved marking their email as important/not spam by multiple recipients before they even started sending emails on the actual destination lists,” explained Shubham Bajaj, founder of Netsurge technologiesa digital marketing agency focused on SEO.

Spammers not only play smart, they also play hard. Noticing more spam emails can also be a sign that, well, spammers are sending more emails. “If there is a sudden increase in the overall volume of spam emails sent, it can be more difficult for spam filters to catch each malicious message, resulting in more spam reaching users’ inboxes,” said Alex Rodriguez , Information Security Analyst at Morgan Franklin Consulting.

With all the spam emails you might see in your inbox, there’s plenty more you don’t see, believe it or not. “We’ve built a solid foundation and continuously improved our security systems based on the latest attack models, protecting Gmail users from nearly 15 billion unwanted messages a day,” said Ross Richendrfer, Head of Security and Privacy PR at Google .

What to do with a spam email

The main question is whether to unsubscribe, block, report or ignore the email. What’s the best way to A) stop receiving these emails while B) not getting viruses?

Most important tip: Be careful with any links in the body of the email, such as an “unsubscribe” button,” as this will likely require you to click a link that will take you to the sender’s email, which could lead to malware and all sorts of other problems,” Zacher said.

Also, “some spammers use the unsubscribe option to confirm that your email is active,” added Tyler Moffit, senior security analyst at Cybersecurity OpenTextwhich may encourage them to send you more emails.

On that note, when you block an email address or report it as spam, be sure to click the buttons associated with Gmail, not the specific email. One way to do this is to click the three dots in the upper right corner, then click the Block or Report buttons.

Reporting spam helps everyone. “This way, Gmail can automatically mark similar messages as spam and prevent more messages from reaching people’s inboxes,” said Kevin Lee, vice president of trust and security at Gmail. Sift. “Gmail also lets you report a message as ‘spam’ or ‘phishing’.”

Otherwise, simply ignoring the email is the safest solution.

Treat unwanted email differently than malicious spam

Before you make any clicks, however, it’s important to differentiate a malicious spam email (aka “phishing,” more specifically) from another annoying promotion from a company you’ve given your email to for years does. When you mark valid promotional emails as spam, no matter how unwanted they are, you can interfere with the spam filter. “Sometimes, users can inadvertently train spam filters incorrectly by making legitimate emails spam or by not flagging actual spam messages,” Rodriguez said. “This can cause filters to become less effective over time.”

To identify a malicious spam email, look for the signs listed above (unknown senders, suspicious content, inconvenient email addresses, etc.). If not, using the unsubscribe button is probably safe. “If you recognize the sender and it’s a reputable company or organization, you can feel free to use the ‘unsubscribe’ link provided in the email,” Rodriguez added. “Legitimate senders are required to comply with anti-spam laws and should honor your unsubscribe request.”

You can also set up Gmail filters so that company emails go to a certain folder. “If those emails don’t automatically go to the Promotions folder, you can set up a filter to make sure they go there, or you can even create a specific label for that brand’s emails and filter them that way,” Zacher said. (More on how to do this below!)

More ways to reduce the amount of spam in your inbox

Want to be more proactive about getting those low profile dangerous (and obnoxious) emails out of your inbox? Here’s what to do and how to do it:

Set filters.

On a larger scale, you can set up filters in Gmail. While this isn’t a cure-all — spammers can always create new emails and keywords — it’s a start.

  1. Click the icon to the right of the search bar in Gmail. (When you hover over it, it should read “Show search options”.)
  2. Type the “problem words” you keep seeing in spam emails or the email addresses they came from.
  3. Click “Create Filter”.
  4. Click the box that indicates what you want to happen to those emails, whether it’s archiving them, deleting them, classifying them under “Promotions”, etc.
  5. Click the blue “Create Filter” button at the bottom right.

However, both Bajaj and Moffitt noted that this can be tedious and not as effective as reporting emails.

Use other email addresses.

If you need to advertise your email for some reason (don’t share it more than necessary!) or subscribe to a series of newsletters, coupon emails, promotions, etc., have a specific email outside of that may be a good idea, according to Rodriguez.

If you’re not particularly sure about something before signing up, you can even provide a throwaway address. “For one-time use or when signing up for potentially risky services, use a disposable email address from a service like Mailnator or 10 Minute Mail,” she suggested.

Stay educated (and keep others informed too).

While being able to identify a spam email will not directly reduce the amount you receive, knowing the latest pattern searching never hurts. No matter how hard Google works, spam will likely always be a problem.

“Education, both for oneself and for those around us, is of paramount importance… [it] can help minimize the effectiveness of these spam emails,” Rodriguez said.

What the future of spam might hold

At the moment, something to watch out for is ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence systems scammers can use, Rodriguez continued. The use of AI could reduce the number of typos by spammers, for example, and increase sophistication overall.

At the same time, those programs can be used forever. “As spammers are leveraging AI to craft sophisticated spam emails, developers and security experts will also be using AI to bolster their defenses,” Rodriguez said.

As we spend more time online and see more technological advancements, Lee added, fraud will continue to do so happen, perhaps even increasingly. The scary thing about it (but it might even help you feel better) is that if you’ve ever fallen prey to one of these scams, you’re not alone.

Lee stressed that it is important for users to be “vigilant and take their own precautions in the face of suspicious emails.”

There’s only so much you can do from your end, but there’s hope, according to Moffitt. “It’s hard to predict the effectiveness of any solution, but I wouldn’t shut Google out of the innovation.”

Richendrfer said reported spam has dropped by more than 45% since the end of 2022 thanks to the work of Google. “To combat these efforts, we have a dedicated team of Googlers working around the clock on this, constantly finding ways to improve our spam protections to defend users,” she said.

So, if you’ve been getting a lot of spam lately, it’s safe to assume that the problem won’t be that bad forever. Until then, keep reporting those annoying messages.

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