Do You Need a Disposable Email Address?
Have you ever visited a website which required your email address to make a purchase, create an account or gain access to information? I'm sure you have, and in some cases you've probably done so hesitantly, thinking that you might be opening your inbox to a flood of spam. A disposable email address provide a handy solution to this problem. Read on to learn more...
Fight Spam With a Disposable Email Address
It seems everyone wants my email address: Facebook, my bank, my accountant, even the tomato vendor at the farmer’s market. It’s no wonder my spam filter is so busy, but I do wonder which of the many entities that have my email address gave, sold, or lost it to spammers. Disposable email addresses can help you tell who the untrustworthy contacts are.
A disposable email address is a temporary or anonymous email address that can forward mail to your permanent address. Ideally, any replies you send are relayed back through the disposable email address to the original sender, who never learns your permanent address. If unwanted emails suddenly start arriving through the disposable email address, you can stop it by deleting or filtering that address.
You can have one disposable email address for every entity that requires an email address, if you like. Then if spam starts coming from a given disposable email address, you can be pretty certain who’s responsible. It’s possible that a spammer just randomly generated an email address that matched one of your disposable email addresss, but it’s MUCH more likely that the entity to which you gave the disposable email address shared it with a spammer, willingly or by theft. Having narrowed down the security leak to one entity, you can investigate and decide whether to give that entity another disposable email address or steer clear of it.
Plus Addressing and Other Options
There are several ways to create disposable email addresss on your own; some are a lot more work than others. My favorite is “plus addressing” with Gmail, which lets me make up a disposable email address on the spot for whoever wants it. Here is how plus addressing works, and some limitations on this technique.
Let's say your email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Add a “+” sign and any string of characters between “whatever” and the @ symbol, for example, whatever+ChaseBank@gmail.com. Now give that address to your online Chase Bank account. Repeat the process for Facebook, newsletter subscriptions, online stores, websites with "squeeze pages" that make you supply an address to continue, etc. All mail sent to your plus addresses will go to your email@example.com inbox.
If you start getting unwanted emails at the plus address, just create a Gmail filter to send them to the Trash. For extra points, create a filter to funnel the mail from each plus address to its own Gmail folder. Just keep in mind, this trick works well for automated systems that send to you, but can be defeated by humans who are clever enough to remove the "plus" portion of the address. Also, when you reply to a message sent to one of your plus addresses, the From line will be your standard Gmail reply address, not the plus address.
The plus sign trick also works with Outlook.com (formerly Hotmail) but Yahoo uses minus signs and makes the process a bit more difficult. See this page on Disposable Addresses in Yahoo to learn how it works.
Another option, if you have your own domain and receive email there, is to create email aliases. That's outside the scope of this article, but your web host or domain registrar can provide details on whether that feature is offered, and how to set it up.
Disposable Email Address Services
Yes, it is a lot of work to set up and maintain disposable addresses for all the entities with which you communicate via email. Fortunately, there are numerous disposable email address services that handle most of the heavy lifting for you. Here are some of the established and reputable disposable email address service providers:
Trashmail receives emails and forwards them to your permanent address. When you set up a disposable email address on Trashmail, you can set a limit on the number of emails that can be received or the number of days that may pass before the disposable email address expires. A Chrome browser addon makes it more convenient to use the service. Basic service is free, but if you want more than 300 addresses, unlimited forwarding or a permanent address, Trashmail Plus can be purchased for US$12.99/year.
Mailinator: There's no registration, just make up a username and give out the address firstname.lastname@example.org. That address will be created on Mailinator’s server when someone sends mail to it. Just be aware that Mailinator inboxes are public, so anyone can read mail sent to that address! After a few hours, all mail is deleted. So Mailinator is an easy, on-the-fly disposable email address service useful for online forums and other sites that require one-time registration. You just go to Mailinator.com to respond to the “confirmation” email sent by the forum or site.
10minutemail: Get a random email address that vanishes after 10 minutes; you can get a 10-minute extension if you need it.
And if you want to explore further, here's a list of over 40 temporary and disposable email services.
Do you use disposable email addresses? Tell me how you do it, or if you have another strategy for dealing with this problem. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 14 Aug 2014
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Do You Need a Disposable Email Address? (Posted: 14 Aug 2014)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved