For the past several months, I’ve been helping Gail manage her email. The majority of the time I’ve spent doing so has simply been deleting spam messages. There are a ton of them, and that’s not counting the ones she deletes herself.
As comedian and TED speaker James Veitch observes, “The internet gave us access to everything. But it also gave everything access to us.”
I have to say, I wish I could deal with email scammers in the same tongue-in-cheek way that Veitch did. Unfortunately, I just don’t have the time. Instead, I have been testing out a third-party app called SpamPhobia, which blocks unwanted emails and guards against malware.
The same thing happened the next day. It was glorious.
Why You Would Need Something like SpamPhobia
You might wonder why anyone would need a third-party spam blocker. While major companies, such as Gmail and Outlook, have decent spam filters, the email accounts of many smaller internet providers (ISPs) offer little to no protection from spam.
And if you’ve ever had an experience like that of James Veitch, you understand why sometimes you need to take extra measures. At one point, Veitch received an email from a supermarket chain about a new store opening. He had never subscribed to that store’s list. And even though he tried to unsubscribe from that list multiple times, he continued receiving emails from that company.
In fact, clicking unsubscribe in scam emails can apparently result in you getting more spam. The reason why is that doing so tells the scammers you have a valid email address.
My favorite example of the futility in unsubscribing is when an email has the word “unsubscribe” at the bottom of it with no link. I have seen emails like that in Gail’s inbox many times.
And of course, this is all not to mention the actual threats that can come to you through email, such as the danger of clicking on a bad link and getting a virus on your computer.
Free and Pro Plans
Believe it or not, you can get the essential features, including support, of SpamPhobia when you sign up for the Free Plan. All you have to do is create an account and give the software permission to access your email.Under the Free Plan, you get basic protection, and SpamPhobia scans for spam once every hour. What’s more, when you first sign up for SpamPhobia, you get a 14-day free trial at the Pro level before your account reverts to the standard Free Plan.
Your other option is the Pro Plan, which costs only $ 4.90/month. With it, SpamPhobia will scan for unwanted emails once every minute and provide you with advanced spam protection.
The advanced protection means the software will manage your subscriptions to commercial lists, as well as detect viruses and other types of malware. I personally have found the Pro Plan to be very advantageous since the bulk of my unwanted emails come from commercial lists.
Getting Started with SpamPhobia
In addition to Gail’s email, I decided to test SpamPhobia on one of my Gmail addresses. Granted, Gmail does have one of the best spam filters out there. But I’ve accumulated thousands of emails at that particular address (many from commercial lists, as I mentioned).
To get started, I created a SpamPhobia password for that email address and gave the software access to my email account. I can revoke this access at any point.
Once inside, SpamPhobia took me to a dashboard and started sorting my inbox. It categorized all of my messages as spam, threats, subscriptions to lists, or emails that I wanted to keep.
After I signed up, a SpamPhobia folder appeared in my Gmail inbox (which of course is separate from my SpamPhobia account). In Gmail, I could view emails the spam blocker had identified as either being from a list or having a virus.
The SpamPhobia dashboard is simple and clean looking, and you can take a quick tour of it at any point. At the top, SpamPhobia shows the percentage of wanted and unwanted emails in a pie chart, in addition to listing the number of each type of email.
As you can see below from the screenshot of Gail’s dashboard, SpamPhobia has identified 147 emails as spam and 34 as outright threats. 325 of them are lists she is on, whether willingly or unwillingly. So SpamPhobia has been protecting her from a high number of viruses since she started using it a couple weeks ago.
Below is a picture of my Gmail dashboard. While SpamPhobia didn’t catch any malware in my inbox, it did find over 6000 list emails, the overwhelming majority of which I know I’m not interested in reading.
Blocking and Allowing
In the middle of the dashboard are a Blocked List and an Allowed List. During the inbox cleaning process, SpamPhobia automatically put email addresses in my Blocked List or left them alone. I could move email addresses over to my Allowed List (and back again) by clicking the thumbs up or down under the respective “Action” sections of each list.