A risk of spam filters - you might miss a real prize!

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Aggressive spam filters can stop you getting messages you really want to get. One Australian author found that out the hard way when she almost missed out on a genuine $150,000 prize.

The email notifying her of the valuable and prestigious prize ended up in her Junk Email folder.

The problem of spam filters ‘false positives’ isn’t understood.  More aggressive junk email filters seem like a good idea but it’s not. A more strict or aggressive spam filter is more likely to mistake as spam a real message that you want to see.

Junk email systems are automated ‘educated guesses’ about whether a message is spam or not.  Sometimes the guess is wrong and a message you want is deleted or sent to the Junk Email folder.

We see this a lot at Office Watch.  People complain that legitimate emails never arrive for online orders etc. from various companies.  A detailed analysis invariably shows the message was accepted by the mail host for delivery but is then lost in an over-zealous anti-spam filter.

These days most junk email filtering is done online by the mail host, not in Outlook for Windows or Mac.

Ideally any alleged ‘spam email’ is sent to your Junk Email folder but many companies don’t bother with that precaution.  Instead they just delete the assumed spam email with no chance for the customer to recover it. 

It’s easier for the mail host to assume their spam filter is perfect and delete messages rather than give customers the option to see what’s been moved aside.

For older POP connected mailboxes (mostly ISP based emails linked to an Internet provider) and Junk Email folder might be online and not in Outlook. Login to your mailbox via a web browser to see what online folders contain.

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