The plus side of all this spam is its twisted poetry of longing

Somewhere out there some firm that holds my credit card details has been hacked. I know this because I have started to get spam to an email address I only ever use for buying things. I have no idea which firm it might be: in the past two and a half years, I have had at least 520 messages to that address, from around 75 different firms. I don’t think it’s likely that any of the big ones – Ryanair, O2, Amtrak, BT, John Lewis, and so on – has been hacked or else we would hear more of it. (Wouldn’t we?) But somewhere among the software publishers, the music sites, the wine merchants and secondhand book dealers I have been paying from this address there is one whose customer database has been plundered.Keeping specialised and unique email addresses for different tasks is one of those tricks that everyone should know and practice: for one thing it can be combined with spam filtering rules to make a rock solid defence against phishing scams. Since I have unique addresses for eBay, PayPal, the various Amazons and my bank, none of which are ever used for other correspondence, I know that email purporting to come from any of those firms which is not sent to the right private address must be a scam and it’s easy to set up rules to delete it unread.

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