I became a member of ActiveRain about two weeks ago, maybe three. Since then, I have received at least twenty unwanted faxes from companies claiming that we have had a "past relationship" and they are faxing me an update.
Or maybe they don't even try to B.S. me about the past relationship thing- they just fax their ad over.
My Canon toner costs me about $75 per unit. These unwanted faxes use my toner and, let's face it, are just plain annoying. I've received faxes for health insurance, "free" vacations (time shares), mortgage refinances and leads. I used to get these unwanted faxes once a month or so. Now it's out of control.
At first, I couldn't figure out what could possibly be causing this sudden surge of junk faxes. Then it dawned on me: There is a direct correlation between my signing up for ActiveRain and receiving all of this fax-crap.
ActiveRain is not to blame however.
Spammers have computer programs that "parse" web pages by the thousands looking for certain data. In a nutshell, this means that a computer program "reads" pages on the Internet (your ActiveRain profile) and scans the text for certain items. Traditionally, the parsers look for the @ symbol, because they know it's an email address. The evil, stinking spammers can collect millions of email addresses with a click of the button; they just sit back while the program looks for email addresses. Webmasters fought back- using contact forms and other methods to trick the parsers.
Well, apparently, they have started parsing for the word "fax" and collecting that data. Since spam blockers are fairly effective now, they might as well violate your phone lines and use up your toner.
It isn't really necessary to provide your fax number on ActiveRain or any other website.
Really now. Who would read your profile and send you a fax without calling you first? I'll tell you who: Spammers. I removed my fax number from my ActiveRain profile yesterday, because, after giving it some thought, I realized it just wasn't necessary.
Anyone who wanted to fax me (and who wasn't a spammer), would call me first. Maybe they are a potential client and they want to fax their tax returns for me to evaluate. Surely they would call first! I've never received a pile of unexpected tax returns. All I know is that if I read somebody's profile, and I wanted to establish a relationship of some sort, the first thing I would do is email them or call them. One simply doesn't fax somebody as "first contact"!
I would highly recommend removing your fax number from your ActiveRain profile. Don't take my word for it; give it some thought. Think about it. Think about why you would need to provide a fax number to people who have never spoken to you or emailed you. Who needs your fax number before first contact? I have racked my brains on this and decided: Nobody.
Remove the fax number, I say.
At least we can eliminate email spam:
I have completely eliminated email spam from my office. I tried anti-spam programs, but they just weren't good enough. Sometimes it would flag email that I wanted and I made a few clients angry with unreturned emails.
Then I discovered SpamArrest. I think it's about $30 per year and it's worth every penny. SpamArrest uses a "challenge-response" method of detecting spam.
You see, since pretty much all spammers use fake email addresses, SpamArrest stops them cold. When an email comes in, before it goes to your inbox, SpamArrest sends an email to the person who sent you an email. If it's spam, the challenge email from SpamArrest never gets delivered and that takes care of 99% of the spammers. If it's a genuine contact from a genuine person, they will receive an email like this:
"Hello. I am sorry for the trouble, but I am trying to protect myself from spam. If you could just respond to this message..."
Actually, you can program it to say whatever you want. You can put your logo and your photo in the "challenge" email. This challenge-response method has eliminated 100% of my office's incoming spam. We just don't get it anymore. For the price, it's worth every penny.