Yes, You Need a Disposable Email Address!

Category: Spam

Have you ever visited a website that demanded 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 provides 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.

Disposable Email Addresses

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, 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 free, and 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 whatever@gmail.com. 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 whatever@gmail.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. Not all websites will accept a Gmail address with a plus sign, but it works most of the time.

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:

Sneakemail bills itself as "The Original Disposable Email Address Company," and offers to hide your address from spammers and others you'd rather not be dealing with. If someone wants your email address, and you have qualms about providing it, login to Sneakemail and create a new address. If mail is sent to your Sneakemail address, it will be forwarded to your real address. Sneakemail also creates an alias for the sender of your incoming messages, so if you reply, only your Sneakemail address will be exposed to the recipient. Sneakemail is free for the first month, and then $2/month thereafter.

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. Your disposable email address can be a username of your choosing on trashmail.com, or 10 other domain names (trashmail.me, trashmail.at, trash-mail.at, rcpt.at, kurzepost.de, wegwerfmail.de, wegwerfmail.net, wegwerfmail.org, objectmail.com, proxymail.eu). An optional 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 username@mailinator.com. 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 (but only if they know the username). After a few hours, all mail is deleted. So Mailinator is a free, 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.

At Guerrilla Mail, you can choose a username and one of ten domain names for your free temporary email address. (My favorite is sharklasers.com) Like Mailinator, messages are public, and are held for one hour before they are deleted. One nice feature is that you can scramble your email address, to make it harder to guess. GuerrillaMail also lets you reply to incoming messages. There's also a free Guerrilla Mail app for mobile phones, on the Google Play store.

10minutemail: Load up this site, and you immediately get a free random email address that vanishes after 10 minutes. You can get a 10-minute extension if you need it. Just refresh the page to see any incoming messages for your temporary address. View, delete or reply to any new messages that appear.

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...

 
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This article was posted by on 4 Jan 2017


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Most recent comments on "Yes, You Need a Disposable Email Address!"

(See all 24 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Cliff
04 Jan 2017

I like the Bloody Vikings! Firefox addon. It gives you several choices of throwaway emails. I wouldn't use it for banking, but those other sites which want your email for spam are easily defeated.


Posted by:

Clairvaux
04 Jan 2017

It seems to me that Sneakemail is behind the times. Not only you need to go to the site to create an alias every time you need one, but you also need to specify your redirection address each and every time you create an alias ! (At least if the tutorial is to be believed.)

Most people will only need one redirection address, and it will always be the same.

Also, it's expensive, at 20 $ with no free plan. For 30 $ per year, you can buy a full mail service from the reputable Australian provider Fast Mail, which will include 600 aliases to use as disposable email addresses (and you'll avoid all Google-related spying). Fast Mail basic plan used to cost only 10$/year a while ago...

In this day and age, I wouldn't use one of those services where your mail is available for everyone to see. While this might have been acceptable several years ago, the threat level from hackers has gone up several notches.


Posted by:

Harry
04 Jan 2017

You missed out on the bast one : e4ward at http://www.e4ward.com/


Posted by:

abrogard
04 Jan 2017


a dash or a plus sign makes it pretty obvious what it is. i imagine it won't be long before they'll refuse to accept them. get a web site and you'll have dozens of email addresses if you want them...


Posted by:

KENNETH HEIKKILA
04 Jan 2017

The + sign isn't accepted at any site I have tried it on and hasn't been for years now. Gmail's spam filter is pretty darn good and I almost never get any. Can't remember when the last time was. They do get a few false positives, but even those are advertising from sites I registered on 99%+ of the time.


Posted by:

RandiO
04 Jan 2017

Let us not be too smitten with such tricks like “plus addressing” with gMail (etc.)
I am willing to bet that the spammerZ are always busy little beavers and they have figured this little game out a bit.
If 'aliasing' is not an option (yet worth every penny), then customizing the +addressing is a must:
In your 'whatever+ChaseBank@gmail.com' example, it may be a better option to ALWAYS start creating these 'plus addresses’ with a couple of known characters as the FIRST few. For example, add "A17" just before 'plus' so that you are one step ahead of them (=>’A17whatever+ChaseBank@gmail.com’).
This makes spam detection/filtering much easier because if the address does not start with this 3-character code, then you are assured that you did not create it but a spammer did.
Maybe then, at the start of 2018 (if email still exists) your customized code may become “B18” or sumsuch!
[Sorry for the length.]


Posted by:

mastershadow
04 Jan 2017

Yahoo allows you to create temporary e mail addresses. If I get too much spam on that address, I delete it, and make another disposable address. It works for me well.


Posted by:

Dave P.
04 Jan 2017

I'm surprised you didn't mention the great-grand-daddy of them all - Spamgourmet. I've been using this facility for years. Very useful


Posted by:

john silberman
04 Jan 2017

I use disposable mail for various sites. The problem I an starting to see is many sites are on to the disposable mail and no longer accept disposable addresses. Seems to be a cat and mouse game to keep up.

Now another option if you own your own domain is create and delete address or alias as needed. I typically would create an address like "starbucks@domain.com" if signing up with Starbucks. This way you see who is selling your e-mail address.


Posted by:

Stuart Berg
04 Jan 2017

My favorite is Blur (https://www.abine.com) because it's free and it integrates into my browser (Firefox) and also works with Android and iOS phones. So when I come across a website that has an email field, it pops up my registered email and a new masked email so I can choose which I want to use. It also can mask credit cards and phone numbers, can eliminate web tracking, and auto-fill many fields like other password managers. Some of the functions are not free, but the ones I use (masking email addresses and eliminating web tracking) are free.


Posted by:

Neville Gordon
05 Jan 2017

I ave an email address associated with the ISP I use, and am VERY selective in who I provide my email address to.
The ESP also has spam filters to cut down unsolicited emails.
As a result I don't really have a problem with unsolicited emails.


Posted by:

Sheri
05 Jan 2017

I've thought about trying to use a disposable email address and being able to identify to which entity you gave any particular email addie would definitely help pin down which one sold or gave away your details. But other than deleting that addie, thereby dropping your membership to that website, there seems no other benefit in going to all that trouble?

So I came to the conclusion that it probably wasn't worth all the bother to try and create a disposable addie that each target website would accept, when marking emails as spam and getting them automatically bounced, is so easy to do ...

And quite frankly, if a website will not allow me to even read their content without requiring my email address, I tend to be a bit suspicious anyway - and go elsewhere!


Posted by:

Carol
05 Jan 2017

Tried this + and company name to the email address but it didn't work for my gmail account. Came up as an invalid email account.


Posted by:

Ken Driver
06 Jan 2017

I'll add one more. yopmail.com It works just like mailinator except it holds the mail for a longer period of time. I find mailinator deletes them to quickly.


Posted by:

Mikey De
08 Jan 2017

Have to give a shout out to Blur by Abine. Amazing service allows blocking and deleting your fake address with a simple click within an email. On top of that, masked credit cards, phone number, and tracking protection. Great service and my "Go-To".


Posted by:

Jay
11 Jan 2017

Sneakemail is not accepting new accounts right now. So I created a "Plus" account with Trashmail. To have this newsletter senr to the new address, I subscribed using the trashmail address, and this system would not accept that address. No explanation. Irony...


Posted by:

ALICIA
23 Jan 2017

Does anyone have a recommendation for buying smaller purchases from companies that this is your 1st purchase from?? I have had an unreasonable amount of vendors fulfill the order, but then charge some subscription for recurring orders or other bs. They are all parties I gave my debit number too, and it was crystal clear a one time authorization, but because it's a 2nd charge, my bank gives me a lot of pushback that I must have a dispute with the vendor since I entered an agreement with them with initial purchase. I read everything and never sign such terms, yet as outrageous and unethical as it is, the bank pushes these 2nd, 3rd and 4th charges through even if overdrawing me and fines me the overdraft too. I thought Albine was the answer to all of this, but after upgrading to premium they charge $5 per card number they make. Which adds up and often = to purchase, so I'll opt out of using, regret it every other time, as these naturally have been the biggest abusers. Plus Albine, put up another problem to creating unique cc for your purchases so I am cancelling as that was the whole point. I would like to be able to try new things and I would want someone to gambke with me if the shoe on the other foot, as there have been some great product that I am glad I tried. Problem is those certain deceptive companies that have decided that even if this is complete fraud it's a numbers game and they figure they'll make more in the long run because most people wait too long or give up if it's difficult at all etc. Impossible to get a refund on despite the "Guaranteed 60 no questions ask, blah blah. I have considered a separate account for these items so they don't interfere unsuspectingly, but again each initial purchase is so low that I can't put all money in the same account or they could get away with /more than they should again. In the time between Christmas and New Years,(which I am sure was no accident since so many people are making purchases at that time and new companies) yet, I have over $1,000 between 2 accounts and the associated fees that I have to go spend tons of time rejecting and dealing with my money being gone when I committed it to whoever or denied a in-store purchase which is humiliating. And no I can't get a credit card and Paypal quit their virtual card program and are this time an offender of 2 unauthorized withdrawals by Them in nearly identical amounts, on identical days mirroring mine, so you are initially thinking it's lefit. Money left both of my accounts and no one received. I happened to be the recipient of one of theirs which I doubt they reSalized so the money just vanished.?? Sorry for the rant, but I have lost my patience and shouldn't have to deal with all of the headache, lost time, and expense because they are getting away with it. I would love to outsmart them at their own gamble and block the surprise charge is they try. Thank you for any help or ideas :)


Posted by:

Clairvaux
28 Jan 2017

@ Alicia

It seems the best option might be for you to be more selective with your vendors. Does Amazon, for instance, use this trick ? I doubt it very much.

Otherwise, I live in France, where any fraudulent electronic transaction must be reversed by the bank, by law. On top of this, one can attach a disposable credit card number generator to one's Visa account. Those numbers have a spending amount attached to them and can only be used by the vendor once. Cost is 12 €/year at my bank.

Don't know if these options are available where you live.


Posted by:

Clairvaux
28 Jan 2017

@ Alicia

It seems the best option might be for you to be more selective with your vendors. Does Amazon, for instance, use this trick ? I doubt it very much.

Otherwise, I live in France, where any fraudulent electronic transaction must be reversed by the bank, by law. On top of this, one can attach a disposable credit card number generator to one's Visa account. Those numbers have a spending amount attached to them and can only be used by the vendor once. Cost is 12 €/year at my bank.

Don't know if these options are available where you live.


Posted by:

peter o
28 Jan 2017

An absurdly lengthy explanation of the use of + which most will quickly realise is not adding anything & many sites will recognise & refuse to accept.
What is needed is a very low cost option to create a disposable email on the fly which can be used once & need not be remembered.
This article seems to not address this very simple requirement. Had to read comments to meet spamgourmet.


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