When it comes to spam, there’s good news and bad. The good news is that email spam – unsolicited bulk email messages — is actually on the decline. Antivirus and internet security software provider Kaspersky Labs reported in November of last year that in the third quarter of the year the percentage of spam in total e-mail traffic amounted to 68.3 percent, down 2.4 percentage points from the second quarter, although the proportion of malware grew more than 1.5 times.
These figures represents what appears to be a downward trend when it comes spam advertising. Fortune attributes the decline in both improvements in spam-blocking technologies and availability of low-cost ‘legit’ advertising, such as the kind you find on the right hand side of Facebook pages.
While email spam may be causing less clutter in your inbox, phone spam is however on the rise and it’s costing your small business a lot of money in lost productivity – as much as a half a billion dollars a year. The data comes from mobile advertising firm Marchex who aggregated data from nearly 40 million phone calls blocked during 2013 to U.S. small business through its Clean Call technology. The study found, among other data:
- Answering spam calls wastes nearly 20 million hours a year for small businesses in the U.S. – which translates to about $475 million annually.
- The volume of detected and blocked calls jumped 162 percent from January 2013 to January 2014 and is on track to keep rising with the mass adoption of mobile phones.
- An average spam call is two minutes. That’s due in part to spammers using more deceptive practices to keep businesses on the phone longer.
- Small businesses are impacted more than large national businesses, which can direct incoming calls at scale through call centers.
Figures on lost productivity for handling email spam are less current. In 2006, TechRepublic in the “True cost of spam to business,” reported that the estimated productivity cost per employee per year to deal with email spam – including identifying it as spam and then deleting it – was $1934.
What you can do about spam
When it comes to phone spam, unlike consumers, businesses are exempt from the National Do Not Call Registry. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take some actions. Marchex suggests that you “ask suspected spammers to immediately identify themselves and the reason for their call; request to be put on the telemarketer’s internal “do not call” list; and finally, hang up if a caller won’t get off the line.”
Regarding email spam, here are some Spam Safety Tips for reducing the amount you get. Start with a strong spam filter and advise your team to do the following:
Use fake email addresses: If you need to fill out a standard form in order to proceed through the website and are uncomfortable about leaving your email address, enter a fake one.
Never reply: When you reply to a spammer, you’re just confirming your email address.
Don’t post your email address: Spammers harvest emails for use in future email campaigns.so don’t post your email on a newsgroup, contact list or chat room.
Your time is valuable. Spammers aren’t going to stop trying to disrupt your day but you can take steps to reduce its impact on your small business productivity.