Avoiding Info Harvesters And Their Spam
There are a number of sites that invite you in by telling you that you can "Win a free car!" just by signing up at their site. Although most of these sites are completely legitimate competition sites there are those that just want to grab your information for their own purposes. There are a number of ways to defend yourself against the info harvesters, and it just takes being a little more paranoid than usual.
For example, avoid sites that ask for an ISP email rather than a free email such as Yahoo, Hotmail, or Gmail. Not only does it block anonymous emails, but it also ensures that you have an income; after all, if you are spending money on your service rather than using free wifi or other options you must have money, right? ISP emails are therefore seen as more valuable, and info harvesters are therefore more inclined to asked for them.
You also need to ask yourself if the site is really a competition site or not. In essence, beyond the beautiful picture captioned,"Win a free iThing", does it provide any real information? It is sometimes hard to see what their actual motive is. Because of this look for an actual street address rather than a post office box, as well as personal information on the business or its owner, as well as information on previous winners and links to rules.
You also need to look at how it advertises itself and how it makes money. It may sound counter-intuitive, but rarely trust sites that are in the top results of any search engine. Some are definitely trust-worthy and have earned their spot, but you also have sites that have figured out how to use search engine optimization to get up there quickly, and will be there just long enough to get as many names as possible. The ads on the site itself are an interesting indicator; if there are no ads then how are they getting the money to run the competition? It helps to be a little nervous when you do not see ads.
A little paranoia can save you from a lot of spam. When you look at a site, look for anything strange before signing up and you may be saved a lot of mail you do not want.