Never respond to a message from a spammer. Do NOT think that responding and telling the sender to take you off his list will work. It won't. It simply confirms an active address. Also, never use one of the websites that claims to forward your address to spammers requesting that they remove you from their mailing lists. Some of these sites are legit; most are not.
If you receive pornographic spam, most ISPs will request that you forward it to them. I have had this happen twice. I delete it. And block the sender. If your e-mail address appears in online or print publications, you are more apt to get pornographic e-mail. This is the best argument for establishing a separate "publishable" e-mail address. Use a free site, choose a password only you know, and, should the worst happen, forward the offending mail to the site administrator, then delete it.
Attachments, Viruses and E-mail
It is NOT possible to get a virus on your computer from an e-mail message. It is possible to get a virus from any type of e-mail attachment. This spoils a lot of the fun, I know, but the best advice is to never open any type of file attachment sent via e-mail. This includes attachments sent by your own dear mother. If you have an attachment you must get to someone, copy the contents and paste them into the body of the e-mail itself. All of the fancy formatting disappears, etc, but so will any virus. If you want friends and family to see family pictures, establish a secure family page at a website like MyFamily.com.
Additional Important E-mail Don'ts
Never send credit card information, your Social Security number, your birth date, your mother's maiden name, or the city of your birth via e-mail. "Everybody" knows about not providing a Social Security or credit card number--but what about the rest? A person up to no good, armed with your date of birth, the city of your birth and your mother's maiden name, can get a copy of your birth certificate. From there, can bogus credit card charges be far behind? If you must send highly sensitive information via e-mail for any reason, visit one of the e-mail encryption websites found at emailaddresses.com.
Everything and the Kitchen Sink
Well, not yet, but most web-based e-mail providers also offer voice mail, fax, and pager services. I have not even addressed foreign-language e-mail or e-mail via cell phones and hand-held computers. The future is here and e-mail is at the heart of it.