Consumer Reports: Alternative emails used for online services

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — If your privacy is important to you, Consumer Reports has something you should do to protect yourself online. It’s simple and effective, but few people do it.

Some try to use a fake name to protect themselves, but experts say that doesn’t stop companies from tracking you.

What you need to do is use an alternative or even fake email address.

Many big tech companies these days share details about almost everything you do on the internet.

This includes what you search for, the websites you visit, and the people you connect with online. But how do they know who you are?

“One of the main ways they do this is by linking your identity using your email address,” said Consumer Reports technical writer Thomas Germain.

If you want to limit this, Consumer Reports said you might want to try an alternative or bogus email service.

“There are a number of these tools, and they all work a little differently, but basically they give you an alternate email that’s not tied to your real identity that you can plug in when you sign up for a new website,” he said.

Maybe you have seen “Sign in with Apple” on some sites. It generates a unique and random email address for Apple users.

All emails from this site can be forwarded to your regular inbox without them ever knowing your real address.

The advantage is that you will receive the emails you need without being tracked.

The Firefox browser offers Firefox Relay. It allows users to create up to five fake email addresses for free or get an unlimited number for 99 cents per month.

“And then there are a number of temporary email services that give you an inbox that you can use, but it self-destructs after about ten minutes.”

For most temporary email services, you don’t even need to create an account. 10MinuteMail, Temp-Mail, Minute Inbox and EmailOnDeck are popular services.

When would something like this be useful? Maybe when you’re asked for an email address to get an instant online discount.

And the added bonus of using a fake email address is less spam in your real inbox.

You might think that creating an extra Gmail or other email account will keep big tech from tracking you, but CR said if you’re using the same devices, companies can easily identify you.

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Veronica J. Snell