This problem has been around since the dawning of Adam and Eve. When the Lord punished them for eating from the Tree of Knowledge, He wisely left out the punishment called Getting Rid Of The Junk. They had to figure out how to get rid of the trash.

Today, the Information Age piles up all kinds of trash. All of it is electronic. Most of it is unsolicited. A lot of it is scam. A typical inbox will get over 1000 messages a day, most of which is unsolicited junk.

To combat this plague, we have resorted to innovations such as spam filters, junk e-mail filters, and blocking software such as super duper firewalls. Some of these devices do not work very well, and many of them get rid of valuable e-mail. Junk e-mail will still get through. Valuable e-mail will still get blocked.

Because computers still cannot reason, a human being must still filter the junk mail and save the valuable e-mail. Here is how I do it. I will be the first to admit it is not totally fool proof.

Step 1: Open Microsoft Outlook Express. All of the incoming e-mails will be read into the in-basket. I go get coffee or else catch up on writing.

Step 2. Sort the in-basket by date and time received

Step 3. Flag each message I think is important. It could be from an important person or company or it could have a Subject that catches my interest. Be very careful to flag everything and don’t miss anything.

Step 4 Click on the Flag icon at the top of the Outlook Express toolbar. Then, select all the flagged messages by pressing Shift + click for the bottom message in the grouup. Then move the group using drag and drop to a special category box I’ve named called Flagged Items. This takes all the good stuff out of the In Basket and saves them.

Step 5 Sort the In Basket by Sender. Then, review the In Basket by scrolling down the sorted list. This will catch any good stuff that might have been missed. When you find any good stuff, flag it and when done, group the flagged items and move the group to the flagged item box

Note also that you will see messages from senders you do not know. If you see messages coming from senders having a title to their names, it is a good bet these are Nigerian 419 messages that are scams. Messages coming from a bank where you do not have an account are “pfishing” scams that have gone astray. Beware of messages coming from senders that use your financial institution. Flag them, then check on their validity later.

NEVER open a message containing an attach file coming from a sender you do not know. This is an open invitation to destroy your computer by allowing viruses or spyware / malware to enter your system.

Step 6 Sort the In Box by Subject. This will group all remaining messages by Subject. Most of these messages are spam or are from scam operators. Here is what to watch for:

Messages starting out with dots, dollar signs, currency amounts, or any other non alphabetic characters: These are spam. Delete.

Messages starting out with your name. The sender is trying to personalize the message. You do not know the sender from Adam or Eve. Delete

Messages starting out with “Congratulations” What major accomplishment did you do that rates a pat on the back? This is spam / scam. Delete

Messages starting out with splash introductions. You didn’t ask for a splash. These are UCE otherwise known as SPAM. Delete.

Messages coming from an unknown sender with all capitol letters. These are Spam. delete

Messages starting out with “You” These could be SPAM but this isn’t certain.

If the sender is a legitimate person as opposed to an autoresponder, you may recognize the Subject may convey enough interest to make you read the message. Again, nothing is certain.

If you get 1000 messages a day, this screening technique will reduce the load to a more manageable 200 messages. Again, remember that nothing is certain. You could be letting in SPAM / SCAM into your system. On the other hand, you could be blocking out valuable e-mail. Remember, computers cannot reason, but you can.