Frequently Asked Questions
The following is an ongoing effort to answer common questions posed by students, faculty and staff of the University. Look below to find answers to common security and privacy questions. If you have questions you'd like us to answer here, please send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is it safe to click on unsubscribe links in unwanted email (aka spam)?
It depends. You are right to be concerned. If the email is from an unscrupulous source, then you could be confirming your e-mail and thus get on more unwanted lists. An unscrupulous email may also direct you to a web page that asks you for more information, or possibly downloads malware to your system.
If you are absolutely sure that the unwanted email is from a legitimate company, then the unsubscribe link should be safe to click on. A legitimate company would be one you've done business with before - signing up for a newsletter, ordering something, giving your e-mail at a charity event. NEVER give any password after clicking on an unsubscribe link. If the site wants you to log in before they'll unsubscribe you, type the address of the site directly into your web browser, and log in from there (Ex: Groupon does this).
The CAN-SPAM Act requires companies to provide an opt-out from receiving future email so legitimate businesses provide this feature. Note that many businesses use commercial professional service providers like ConstantContact or MailChimp to send marketing emails on their behalf. Email sent by ConstantContact provides a safeunsubscribe link that should also work as intended.
How can I reduce the amount of unsolicited email (aka spam) I receive?
Investigate the mail filtering options available for your email system and email client. You can create a filtering rule that automatically moves email with specific a sender, subject, or other attributes to a junk folder where you can delete it.
For your Carnegie Mellon email account in particular, check your spam filter settings to make sure you are filtering and discarding spam as identified by the campus email system. See http://www.cmu.edu/computing/email/cyrus/doc-email/mgmt/spam.html.
Mark the unwanted email as spam/junk and let your mail client learn what you consider spam.
Consider unsubscribing. See 'Is it safe to click on unsubscribe links in unwanted email (aka spam)?'
Be judicious when providing your email addresses on websites, at conferences, or on paper forms. Many times you can select/deselect options that will add you to additional distribution lists. Legitimate entities are more likely to honor your settings than unscrupulous ones.
Read the fine print or ask questions before providing your email address to understand whether your email address is likely to be shared and what your options are to opt-out.