4 ways to reduce spam emails and messages

Shanna Hall
5 Min
Spam emails and messages

As the saying goes, nothing is certain in this life except for death and taxes. However, there is one more item to add to the list: receiving spam messages. If you have an email address or a mobile phone number, then getting spam or unsolicited messages is par for the course, but there are ways to cut back on how much spam you get. For finance leaders, spam can be relentless at both the home and the office, and it can even come with heightened security risks.

Last year marked 30 years since the term “spam” was first used to describe unsolicited emails. However, unwanted electronic messages have been around since the first recorded instance in 1978. That message was sent to hundreds of users on ARPANET by a curious marketer who sadly proved that not all innovation is good.

The nature of spam is a numbers game. With the cost to send a message to a large list of contacts remaining so low, it only takes a handful of people to respond to a message for it to be worthwhile for the sender. That’s why several cybersecurity firms estimate that nearly half of all emails sent worldwide are spam.

Are you seeing more spam emails or text messages?

If you’ve noticed a lot of spam across your personal or work email lately, it’s probably not your imagination. More broadly, scams are on the rise, with Americans losing a record $1 billion (USD) to scams in 2023 and Australians facing a cyberattack every six minutes. It’s not surprising that there might be an influx of spammy or even malicious messages.

However, a sudden spike in spam messages in your own inbox might indicate that something else is afoot. If you’re seeing an unusual uptick, it’s likely you may have had one of the following things occur:

  • Your email was added to a mailing list. This might be through sign-ups for competitions, newsletters or website registrations, either initiated by yourself or by others with your details. 
  • You clicked on a spam email you received. Clicking on an email, link or image, even inadvertently, can alert the sender that your address is active and in use. This can lead to you receiving a higher volume of messages. 
  • Your email address has been shared publicly or even sold. With the amount of personal information lost in recent data breaches, this is a very likely source of not only spam but also malware. 

Tips for reducing spam emails and SMS

Sadly, there is no single cure for spam, particularly if you like the email address that you have. However, the good news is you can take steps to mitigate the problem. Here’s how to reduce spam emails and messages.

1. Report and flag spam

Rather than just deleting or ignoring spam, there are several ways to report and flag it. By flagging a message as spam or moving a message to a spam folder, you can train your filter to pick up similar messages in future. The results aren’t immediate, but over time it can significantly reduce the amount of spam in your inbox.

If you work at a larger organisation, you might have an option through your IT department to let them know about unwanted messages. They may be able to update their filtering or block repeat offenders from getting through.

In Australia, you can also send your received spam messages to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to help them track offenders. ACMA caught several high-profile brands in 2023, racking up more than $2.2 million in fines. Just forward your spam email to ACMA at or forward your SMS spam to 0429 999 888 (Standard message charges apply). 

2. Use disposable or alias email addresses

One way to lower the volume of spam in your inbox is to use disposable email addresses to sign up for general newsletters, shopping sites or other day-to-day things where you are asked for your email. Having a disposable email can help to filter out a lot of the noise from your Inbox, and it’s not as big of a worry if you decide to switch that email address off or target it specifically with message rules and filters.

An extra tip for Gmail users 

Add a “+” symbol and another word before the @ sign using your existing email address to create an instant alias, for example, This also works for domain names or business emails hosted through Gmail or Google as well. You can make as many of these aliases as you want to and create a few categories. Use rules and filters to target the specific address you created and treat those messages differently, such as archiving them immediately or sending them to a specific folder. 

3. Customise your own or use a third-party spam filter

Often spam has several repetitive topics or words that appear across incoming emails. You can customise your own filter to treat certain words or phrases as spam in the settings for popular email applications including; Microsoft Outlook, Gmail, Windows Mail and Apple Mail. Alternatively, various third-party spam filters are available online from a range of cybersecurity vendors. These can offer enhanced security and often use advanced algorithms or machine-learning techniques to identify spam or potential threats. 

4. Explore additional technical solutions

For those who like to tinker under the hood of the internet, you can learn more about some of the messaging protocols that can impact spam. These are particularly relevant for owners of websites or domains. These protocols include Sender Policy Framework (SPF), DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) and Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC). There are also Allowlists that can pre-approve email messages to bypass spam filters from certain IP addresses or Denylists to automatically reject them for greater control. Chat with your IT team to see if these are applicable to your circumstances or contact your ISP or email provider for more information.

Regardless of whether spam is flooding your inbox or disrupting your phone, over time these steps can help you decrease the amount of spam you encounter. With a little ongoing and proactive effort, you can begin to reclaim your email or phone and enjoy a more secure, relevant and uninterrupted digital experience.

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Is exposed data increasing your spam volumes?
If your details have been exposed in a data breach or leak, you might be more likely to receive unwanted emails, messages or phone calls. Use our data checker tool to see if your data has been compromised and receive guidance on next steps.

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