August  2006                                           By Attorney General Tom Miller



Beware of “Spam” Scams

How to reduce unwanted junk e-mail -- and avoid on-line scams.


            At best, “spam” annoys people and wastes their time.  At worst, spam brings nasty scams that deceive people, steal their identity, and cheat them out of thousands of dollars.  Con-artists use deceptive e-mail because it’s a quick and cheap way for them to reach thousands or even millions of people, and it’s hard to trace spam back to the senders.  Here are some tips from the FTC on how to reduce, reject, and report deceptive spam.


REDUCE junk e-mail spam:


·               Limit circulation of your e-mail address.  Spammers “harvest” e-mail addresses from chat rooms, newsgroups, web pages – just about anywhere they can find them or buy them.  Try to avoid displaying your address.  Check a website’s privacy policy before providing your address – and opt out of plans where they may sell your address.  Consider creating a very unique address (with numbers and letters) that is less likely to be found by spammers using “dictionary attacks” on common names.  Consider using two email addresses (one for public use).   Use an e-mail filter. 


·               Do your homework.  For more details on these tips, go to: .

Another excellent source for tips is .


REJECT deceptive spam scams:


·               “Phishing” e-mails pretend to be from banks, credit card companies, E-Bay, etc. -- even the IRS.  They look real, but they are bogus.  The e-mail urges you to click to a phony web site -- and submit your credit card or bank account number, or social security number.  Avoid identity theft:  keep your personal information to yourself.


·               Phony “lotteries” or other prize schemes claim you’ve “won” – but soon ask you to send money to them.  These international scams are extremely common now.


·               Questionable solicitations constantly arrive by e-mail – for bogus weight-loss products, get-rich-quick schemes, “credit-repair” scams, prescription drugs, etc.


REPORT deceptive and unwanted spam:


·               Send the full spam message to the Federal Trade Commission at .  The FTC uses e-mail in this data-base to pursue its law enforcement actions.  (Send the full ‘header’ on the e-mail so it can be traced.)  You also can send spam to your Internet Service Provider, and to the spammer’s ISP.


            Contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Div., D.M., IA 50319.  Call 281-5926 or 888-777-4590 (toll-free.)  The web address is


Consumer Protection Division   Hoover Building   Des Moines, Iowa 50319   515/281-5926*