Q: It seems like I have been receiving even more spam e-mails than usual. Why is this? How can I tell what is spam e-mail? — C. G G., Franklin Lakes...

Q: It seems like I have been receiving even more spam e-mails than usual. Why is this? How can I tell what is spam e-mail?

— C.G., Franklin Lakes, N.J.

A: Despite legislation that was supposed to stop it, spam e-mail continues to grow. Moreover, it seems like today every type of imaginable product is marketed via e-mail.

Spam is unwanted e-mail and comes in many forms. There is one explanation for the increase in spam over the years — it is incredibly cheap to send.

When you receive spam e-mail, do not open it. Never buy anything promoted in spam e-mails. And don’t reply to a spammer’s “unsubscribe” link (your response confirms your e-mail address).

Almost every e-mail provider or software system allows you to mark spam as junk e-mail and block e-mail from that source. Keep on the alert for these types of spam:

• E-mail from somebody claiming to be an old friend. This spam has a friendly tone, but is filled with grammatical mistakes.

• E-mail from the CIA or the FBI. This spam e-mail accuses you of having visited illegal Web sites.

• E-mail to download pictures of a celebrity. A popular one involves Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie from TV’s “The Simple Life.”

• E-mail for sexual empowerment. This spam sells pills to improve your sexual performance.

• E-mail requesting that you confirm your password or personal information. Perhaps the most common type of spam, this e-mail may appear to come from your bank, Internet provider, or online store.

• E-mail indicating that you won a prize. This e-mail comes in many forms: a foreign dignitary needs your help to get money out of the country, or an official letter from a well-known company indicates that you have won prize money. The instructions direct you to keep your winnings confidential.

• E-mail pushing a particular stock. This spam promotes a stock and the broker’s pitch on why you will make money.

Eric Gertler, United Feature Syndicate. Have a question? Send it to heretohelp@seattletimes.com, or call 206-464-2525.