BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) - the IM application for RIM handsets - isn't new, but it is growing in popularity. Unfortunately, it's attracting spammers as well as users. Here's six top tips to avoid trouble when using BBM.

Think of it as a mobile version of MSN Messenger or Google Talk that only works with BlackBerrys, and uses unique 'PIN' codes associated with every BlackBerry to connect RIM smartphone users.

However, it's also attracting spammers and hackers.

Web-security-software-maker McAfee recently posted a warning about BBM spam and hoaxes on its TrustedSource blog.

To me, BBM is a valuable tool that I use every day for immediate contact with important colleagues, associates and family members.

But the app can subject BlackBerry users to unnecessary risk if used improperly or without a certain degree of caution.

Here are half a dozen BBM best practices to help ensure that you get the most of your BBM experience while avoiding any potential trouble.

Add new contacts sparingly

This is the most important point in my post, so I'll say it again: add new contacts sparingly.

I know I'll catch some flak from some of you loyal BlackBerry users out there who seem to be playing a game in which the goal is to gain as many BBM contacts as quickly as possible.

But the value in BBM, for me at least, is that it's not just another IM service - I have BeeJive for that.

BBM users add new contacts in a few ways: you can share your unique PIN with others and have them invite you, or vice-versa; you can add new contacts by sharing email addresses associated with your BlackBerry smartphone; and you can 'scan' other BBM users' unique PIN-barcodes with your BlackBerry's camera - assuming you're using the latest BBM version (5.0).

I connect only with colleagues, family and friends who I want to be able to communicate with instantly, at any time.

And when I connect with someone on BBM, I mostly expect him or her to respond to my message as quickly as possible. And I know most of them expect the same in return.

So, to the point: do NOT share your BlackBerry PIN or barcode with just anyone; Do NOT post your PIN or barcode on your public Twitter account or any other social network; Do NOT include your BlackBerry PIN or barcode in your fixed email signature.

Are you getting the idea here? Good. Furthermore, you don't have to accept all BBM invites you receive. (More on that coming up in the BlackBerry Groups section.)

Don't worry about hurt feelings or bruised egos. Your BlackBerry will thank you.

On that note: There's really no right or wrong way to use BBM. But there are smart and effective methods of employing the service.

Adding tons of contacts defeats the purpose of BBM for me and diminishes the app's overall value.

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NEXT PAGE: Backup BBM contacts regularly

  1. Utilise a handset's IM function without getting into trouble
  2. Back up BBM contacts regularly
  3. Accept file transfers from only trusted contacts