If you are like most of us, you send and receive dozens, if not hundreds, of e-mails every day, so this is a subject that is on everyone’s minds. Unfortunately, for most of us, the only thing we think about when it comes to e-mail is what to write and what someone else wrote. There are other issues to think about when e-mailing. One of the most important issue is security. If you do not think about it, you could end up like me – fighting to get out of the junk folder.
Since the beginning of time, or maybe the mid-‘90s, people have been sending unsolicited e-mails as advertisements and for other unscrupulous reasons. These messages are known as SPAM. Some of the e-mail messages are designed to scam you into buying inferior or non-existent products or trick you into providing them with sensitive data – a process called “phishing.”
It would be easy to fix if all of these people would create a domain name and use that domain name in their e-mails; then we could block the spammers, phishers, and scammers, and everyone would be happy, except them. Instead, they use your domain name. Well, maybe not yours, but, apparently, they used mine.
You may have received an e-mail that looked like it came from your own e-mail address. This is called “spoofing.” Eventually, if your e-mail address is spoofed enough, you could be blacklisted by larger information technology (IT) departments, including the IT department of the county government you deal with on a regular basis. You would not even know. You would be sitting in your office, watching your paralegal twiddling her thumbs, and wondering why nobody has responded to any of your e-mails, including the urgent messages about deals that need to be made. It happened to me, and it could happen to you.
I do not have all the answers, and I am not nearly the expert my mother thinks. I am simply an inquisitive guy trying to understand why things do and do not work. I am trying to explain things without all the big words the experts use.
I am lucky enough to have friends and family that work in all areas of the county government. When I realized that people were not responding to my e-mails, I called a few of them. It was discovered that my e-mail address had been spoofed and used by enough scammers that independent “spammer lists” had blacklisted me and the county’s mail server automatically sent all of my e-mails to the junk folder.
While it may be a costly undertaking for you, you should consider utilizing a secure, third-party e-mail server. Microsoft offers subscriptions to their Exchange Server. Amazon offers a similar service, and some web hosting companies, such as GoDaddy, offer Microsoft Exchange for e-mail service, as well. Without getting too technical, these e-mail servers enter codes into every e-mail message that comes from you and it prevents anyone from being able to “spoof” you.
In the end, I chose Microsoft for my office. The cost was minimal – approximately $12 per month to protect me and my staff. It is money well spent to ensure that my e-mail messages actually get to the person intended, whether that be a prosecutor, an expert witness, a client, or even a judge. Set up was easy and, much to my surprise, I was able to speak with a real, live person in the United States, who walked me through the process. They even called me back the next day to help finish setting up.
It has taken a little bit of time and a little bit of money, but my name has been removed from the list of spammers and scammers. I can now get back to work representing my clients. In the future, if I find myself wondering why my e-mails are being ignored, I will know it is not because my messages ended up in the junk file. If you ever find yourself in the same situation, it might be something you want to investigate.