New Year’s Resolution: Check Your Junk Mail

By Wayne Xu

According to a security bulletin published in 2013 by Kaspersky, a company specializing in internet security products, 70% of email traffic is spam. That amounts to roughly 15 billion messages globally per day. Fortunately, for most businesses, content filters eliminate a majority of these threats.

Content filters, nonetheless, can be too zealous at times, and therefore, it is important to get into the habit of double-checking to see if a legitimate email is sitting in the email purgatory known as the junk folder. Many firms and businesses use content filters that send notices at certain times each day to alert of emails that have been blocked. These programs are quite adept at blocking spam, but potential problems may arise when one relies too heavily on their ability and begins ignoring the junk folders or blocked content notices.

Yes, by frequenting the junk folder, you are going to see many solicitations from foreign “princes” who will “reward you handsomely for your assistance in transferring their inheritance,” but it is important to make a habit of going through the junk folder with an eye towards subject fields or senders with names you recognize. As obvious of a thing to do as it is, many people do not check the junk folder often enough – or not at all.

Failing to do so can result in missed notices. A Ph.D. student was expelled after failing to respond to an email from his professor that landed in the spam folder, regarding submittal of a request for continuation in a Program. North v. Widener University, 2013 WL 3479504 (E.D. Pa. July 11, 2013). An attorney in Colorado failed to appear for a settlement conference because he never checked his firm’s spam filter. The firm’s I.T. administrator had adjusted the spam filter but failed to white-list the court’s email domain. The court’s e-notice was inadvertently blocked, and as a result of missing the settlement conference, the attorney was required to pay the opposing party’s attorney’s fees. See Pace v. United Serv. Auto. Ass’n, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 49425 (D. Colo. July 9, 2007).

Checking your spam filter is especially important if there are new or international customers involved because new domain names and foreign emails are frequently the ones that trip up spam filters. Even if all of your contacts, and indeed everyone from whom you ever want to receive an email, have been accepted by your email service provider, you should continue periodically checking your junk folder and blocked content notices. Customers and clients are not always in the office and may send important emails from their personal email addresses. Depending on their settings, spam filters may block certain emails originating from unknown personal accounts.

Content filters are not perfect, and spam is constantly evolving. If some unwanted emails make it through to the inbox once in a while, do not assume your content filter is catching all the spam. It is still necessary to check to see what may be left behind.

An easy new year’s resolution this year is to more regularly check the junk folder and review all of the blocked content notices. Frequenting the junk mail folder is literally one click away and can potentially prevent the embarrassment of missing an important email. Apparently, only 8% of people achieve their new year’s resolutions. So start the year productively and be part of that joyous 8% by resolving to make a habit of checking the junk folder and blocked content notices.