Isn’t spam in your inbox bad enough? Apparently not. Spammers are now invading your Google Calendar and using Gmail messages to trigger invitations to Google Calendar. Spammers are taking advantage of the integration between Gmail and Calendar to send you fraudulent invitations, which may include messages with malicious links. Fortunately, these spammers won’t be able to blast your calendar using your Google Calendar settings.
For years, scammers and spammers have been infiltrating unsuspecting users’ Google Calendars, but in recent weeks there have been headlines about phishing scams involving Google Calendars. Here’s why.
By default, Google Calendar adds events to your calendar every time you receive an invitation, even if you never clicked the “Accept” button. As long as someone can send you invitations, they can easily sneak information into Google Calendar. Worse, even if you carefully decline events that you don’t know about, the calendar will still show the events you declined – meaning those fake links will stay, too.
So what’s going on here?
At one point, Google Calendar introduced a feature that automatically adds any event you invite to your calendar, presumably so that the invitation doesn’t get lost in your inbox. The problem is, there’s no… Apparently, there is no real filter. If the bot gets your email address and runs it through an invitation that goes through Google’s anti-spam system, then bam – it’s in your calendar as if you added it yourself.
Google confirmed the problem in the form of an attached post on the Google Calendar support forum. It just reads :
We are aware of the amount of spam in Calendar and are working diligently to fix the problem.
We will post updates in this thread as soon as they become available. Learn how to report and delete spam. Thank you for your patience.
How to stop spam in Google Calendar
It’s hard to avoid events based on spam messages sent to your Gmail inbox, but there are a few ways to prevent them from cluttering your calendar. Here’s what to do.
- Open Google Calendar by going to Calendar.Google.com.
- Tap the settings icon in the upper-right corner of the page and select “Settings.”
- Select “Event Settings.”
- Change the “Automatically add invitations” setting from “Yes” to “No, only show invitations I’ve responded to.”
- Now scroll down to the “View Options” section and uncheck the “Show Rejected Events” box. This will prevent Google Calendar from showing spam that you have rejected.
If you use Google Calendar on your phone, check the app settings to make sure the changes have been applied.
There is a way to set up your calendar so that spam can’t even get in, and get rid of the blocked appointments you already have. It’s a three-part process.
First, don’t let Google Calendar automatically add invitations sent to you:
- In the web calendar app, click on the cogwheel icon in the top right corner of the page and select “Settings.”
Click on “Event Settings” in the left menu bar.
- Look for the “Automatically add invitations” setting. Click on it to get a drop-down menu with three options. Select the “No, show only invitations I responded to” setting
.Next, prevent events sent to you by Gmail from ending up on your calendar:
- In the menu on the left, click on “Gmail Events.”
- Uncheck the “Automatically add Gmail events to my calendar” option.
- You’ll receive a warning message that says “You will no longer see events automatically added to your email. Events previously added to Gmail will be deleted.” Click “OK.”
Finally, if you received spam invitations that you declined and you’re tired of seeing the crossed-out entries, you can either mark them individually as spam or get rid of the entries using the following method:
- In the left-hand menu, go to “View Options.”
- Make sure that the “Show rejected events” checkbox is unchecked.
Unfortunately, this does not affect how you see rejected events on your phone. Here’s how to make rejected events not appear there, too:
- Select the three parallel lines in the top-left corner of your calendar to open the side menu.
- Scroll down and select “Settings.”
- Select “General.”
- Look for “Show reassignments” and make sure it is turned off.
It would have been much more convenient if Google had made sure that these settings were initially disabled so that we wouldn’t be surprised by sudden and unwanted additions to our calendars. Maybe in the next update.
This should prevent a lot of calendar spam you get, but you can still get some. For example, in my colleague’s case, the events on her calendar suggest that she’s already accepted them, which means the invitations are still showing up. Delete one of them, and then choose to delete all future events, and they should be deleted completely.
Frequently Asked Questions
Go to the Google Calendar app on your phone and open the menu box. Tap Settings at the bottom and select Gmail Events from the new menu. You can then disable "Gmail Events" for each Google account individually.
The truth is that a spammer only needs the email address associated with the calendar account to add an unwanted event to the calendar. That's because Apple, Google, and Microsoft's calendar programs are set by default to accept invitations from anyone.
Open the Settings app and go to Notifications > Calendar. Uncheck the box next to "Allow notifications" if you want to turn off all notifications, or tap "Invitations" to turn off notifications only for incoming calendar invitations.
To prevent Google Calendar from automatically spamming you in the future, click the gear icon in the upper right corner and go to "Settings." Scroll down to the event settings and change the Automatically add invitations option to "No, only show invitations that I've responded to."