Disposable Email Addresses: Single Purpose Accounts for Online Safety
E-mail and social networking communications are core activities on the internet. Unfortunately, email is easy for spammers to abuse. There are several ways to prevent this problem when you sign up for things using your email address online; but only one works if you need to provide a real, working address (to be able to receive a confirmation e-mail, for example), the creation of disposable e-mail addresses.
Most internet service providers and web hosting companies allow you to have several e-mail accounts. The ISP provides provides the mechanism online for you to create and delete them. If your email provider (Hotmail, Google, Yahoo, etc.) provides the ability to create additional email accounts, it may be a good idea to setup an extra account that you have no intention of using for personal communications.
Even if you don’t use an ISP that allows additional accounts, you can still sign up with an e-mail hosting provider that allows you to create multiple accounts or even create free accounts on Yahoo!, Hotmail or any of the other free services (although some services won’t accept these kinds of e-mail addresses for verification purposes).
For example: You want to sign up for a free offer on some website; but you would prefer to avoid getting a bunch of spam for privacy reasons. So, you hesitate to use your primary personal email address. In this situation, you could use your secondary disposable email address. The confirmation request and any subsequent spam would be sent to your disposable e-mail address. The only time you would need to visit the disposable email account mailbox would be to click on confirmation links or confirm information. This way, you don’t have to worry about all of the other spam that may come in the future.
Don’t give out your disposable email address to anyone from whom you’d actually like to receive e-mail, and don’t let your garbage address be associated with your real name or address (that way, an old friend searching for you on four11.com won’t try to use it to get back in touch, for example). This way, you can be certain that any emails received by this address is useless spam that may be safely deleted.
If you participate in discussion forums, you may notice an increase in the amount of spam and fraudulent email that you receive. Spammers often gather email addresses from discussion forums using scanning and indexing bots.
Whatever you do, don’t respond to spam that provides a link where you can “opt-out” of future mailings. All this does is tell a spammer that they have a real, live working address that is in use; and this is the commodity that spammers trade in — working e-mail addresses.
Eventually, your throwaway Inbox will fill up with offers for “herbal Viagra”, requests from Nigerian families in need of someone to retrieve their money for them, fake updates from Microsoft trying to get you to run malicious trojan-horse scripts and badly misspelled missives pretending to be from PayPal or the IRS requesting that you “upd8ate y0ur3 credipt cahrd informaton”. When that happens, you just delete the account and create a new one.
A disposable email address can be a valuable tool to protect the usefulness of your primary email address.