I’ve had a few [recent] enquiries as to the receipt of SPAM [junk] e-Mail and I think a plain English [sic.] explanation is required:
What is SPAM ?
When you receive an e-Mail from anyone [jSmith@gmail.com] assuming the Sender Name and the Real Sender […@…] marry up then it’s NOT SPAM. This is true for most of the e-Mail you will receive.
So when they don’t: it is SPAM. Sorry for the reverse explanation !
So how does this happen ?
Let’s say that you have a web-site which allows a web-site visitor to send e-Mails back to the site-owner, e.g. YOU.
It is perfectly OK if the web-site [run by the real owner] uses a third-party e-Mail server to process this type of eMail. Such an e-Mail could/would be considered as SPAM because the sender/your Visitor [they give their e-Mail Address] would be different from the real sender [the web-site e-Mail Server]. This is GOOD SPAM ! Or it should be ? There is however nothing to stop the Visitor typing in a totally bogus e-Mail address, e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Common sense will prevail.
Real Bogus SPAM [depending on your point of view] is when someone makes an e-Mail shot via a third-party server, i.e. they want to send a Zillion e-Mails, but not from their account. Maybe there are good reasons for this. We are not judging. If they do this then as above your ISP and or e-Mail program may mark this as SPAM. Actually some ISPs are fussy [gMail] – others not so much depending on the tech used to send the e-Mail.
That sort of discussion is not important in the context of this POST.
So: bottom line – the e-Mail may be valid and quite bonefide, albeit that it didn’t originate or was not processed [sent] by the same address as the one stated as the e-Mail Sender Name. So, using the above example the Sender Name on the e-Mail will be Richard Nixon [email: email@example.com] but the actual sender could be firstname.lastname@example.org. Looks a bit suspicious ?
If however, the e-Mail does NOT have an attachment then there should be no harm in looking at the e-Mail – just don’t open any attachments.
Naturally if you are super paranoid or a Which? Reader then you’ll be advised to delete anything in the SPAM or Junk folder. Likewise: never cross an empty road unless you see a Zebra Crossing !
Common sense is the secret here.