More than three years ago I got a Gmail account for no other reason than it was the cool thing to do. Gmail was in beta, invite only and fairly exclusive. The first month that invites started to be sent out, each user would get five to give to friends and family. I’m not kidding when I tell you that people bought and sold these invites for upwards of $100 and a secondary market started on eBay selling already registered Gmail email addresses of famous peoples names, companies and single letter addresses. It was nuts. I’ll also admit to selling a few invites myself and no, I don’t feel guilty for it. I didn’t use the email address for more than a year, I just sat on it. I wanted to make sure I got the one I have before someone else did and figured I could always use it as a backup if needed.

Since 2000 I have been using email hosted with my own website, mikepanic.com and had very few issues with it. I enjoyed using Outlook and had nearly no spam issues. This changed about two years ago. After using the same email address for nearly 6 years, the spam started to pour in. Clearly I had signed up for something somewhere that sold my email address or, more than likely, spam bots captured my email address which was publicly shown on my website and started to use it. There is virtually no way to combat spam outside of shutting down an email account. What is out of control? Try 600+ spam messages a day. Try not logging into your email for 9 months and seeing 17,000 new messages! This is when I started to use Gmail on a regular basis.

After a painful week or so of going through and switching over various forums, online bill paying and bank account sites to my new Gmail address, confirming them all and getting it roughly squared away, I all but stopped logging into Outlook and figured I’d deal with the spam later. Gmail it was, and web based too!

Going web based was pretty normal to me, no real issues there, I lost a few minor things in Outlook that I liked, but overall I’m happy, really happy with how Gmail works and have been for the last two years now.
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About two months ago I logged into Gmail and saw something I hadn’t seen in a long time, waiting emails in the spam folder. Now don’t get me wrong, Gmail isn’t perfect, there have been a handful of false-positives going in there, but it only happened once ever few months. Over the period of the next few weeks a few more came in and a few more and a few more. It’s not overwhelming yet, as seen here in the screen grab from this week, but it does make me wonder about those sites I give my email address too.

I have been and continue to be really cautious of who I give my email address to, I’ve gone as far as setting up forwarders for different websites I own that filter back to Gmail and can kill them off if they start to become abused. What market is really available anymore for spam email? Do people still fall for the false Paypal and bogus credit card phishing scams?