How-to Instructions


Spam is junk or unsolicited commercial email (UCE) that is bulk-emailed to people who have not requested it. To learn more, see Spam and Federal Trade Commission Scam Alerts.

Phishing is fraudulent spam email that tries to look legitimate to trick you into giving up important account or login information. To learn more, see Recognize and Report Email Scams and Phishing Scams Targeting the UMN.

What to Do with Spam


  • From an address to University Information Security at Forward the original text of the email. Include email headers if possible. If you suspect Phishing email that impersonates a University (UMN) unit or person or targets UMN login information, forward to
  • Received in Gmail to Google: Click the Report spam button in Gmail (at the top of the email, click on the ! icon, or use the More button (down arrow) next to Reply and choose Report spam). This action helps to educate Google's spam filters and places the spam in your Spam folder. 
  • Originates from outside the University to the Federal Trade Commission or to the spammer's Internet Service Provider (ISP), as well as to Google, if you want to be a good Internet citizen. Do not expect a personal reply from the ISP, since the ISP may receive numerous complaints just like yours.


Review your Spam folder or email messages from time to time. There may be email incorrectly flagged as spam. If you find a message incorrectly flagged as Spam, forward it to with the message that it was incorrectly flagged. If you use Gmail, you will need to search for Spam messagesYou may also delete the messages in your Spam folder, or they will be automatically deleted after 30 days.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the University doing to protect me from spam?

The University relies on a customized SpamAssassin implementation and Google's spam filtering to protect the community from the spam that bombards us daily. Your reports of spam help educate the spam filters to be even more accurate. Be aware that reporting spam is an iterative, ongoing effort that might not appear to have immediate effect.

Are there other types of bulk email?

There are email lists and Google groups that you may subscribe to; these will usually have an Unsubscribe link at the bottom. There is also approved University correspondence, in which you can not unsubscribe from.

How do spammers get my address?

Email spam lists are often created by stealing Internet mailing lists, or by searching the Web for addresses, or searching for Directories containing email addresses. The more Internet activity you participate in, the more likely you'll end up in a spam list.

Spammers take advantage of poorly configured mail servers, and free e-mail accounts to hop around the Internet.  They can also forge almost all of the information in an email (address, IP, etc.).  This makes it difficult to identify the correct ISP where the spam originates from.

How do I identify the sender source or display full email headers?

You need to look at the full header text of the email to identify the sender source. The email headers tell the route that the email took to get to you, and the sender source will be the oldest identifiable sender.