Things have changed drastically over the years, especially when it comes to maintaining your online privacy.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, if you needed to provide your email address online, for the most part you could just make up one there on the spot. For instance, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
These email addresses didn't even need to exist. Most websites didn't check to see if these email addresses could accept email. Usually they just checked to make sure you had that "@" symbol and some .com, .net, .edu or .org top level domain (referred to as the big-four).
Over time, website owners realized that people mis-typed their email addresses and wanted/needed additional confirmations of the email addresses. So started the time when you would need to enter your email address, and then enter it again to confirm. Since many people simply copy/paste their original input box into the confirm input box, the results were marginal at best.
In the early/mid 2000s, social media sites and dating sites started becoming more popular and with them, these sites started emailing all sorts of notices. Things like, "someone looked at your profile", "someone poked you", "someone left you a comment" and so on.
These legitimate websites started sending out crazy amounts of emails and were running the risk of looking like spammers to the ESPs.
The websites needed a way to prove their reputation to the ESPs and started validating their user's email addresses more strictly to do so.
On sign up, these websites performed a bunch of checks, including: Does the mail server actually exist? Does the email server accept email? Is the email address provided actually accepted by the email server?
Only upon validating all these questions did the website accept the email address as valid and let the user into the site.
At this point, most people only had one email address. It was most likely the email address your internet service provider (ISP), or possibly your school gave you. Though people were starting to use free email web software like Hotmail and Gmail.
With only one email address, and using it for everything, from banking and personal correspondence, to social and dating accounts, it is very easy to track the same identity across the web.
Enter, the temporary email address.
People realized the need to for alternate identities online. One that they could use for work, one for personal, one for pleasure amongst others.
Today, we still think that EmailOnDeck provides the best temporary email service to protect your online privacy. We do not track your emails, and we wipe our logs daily.
We empower you and help you continue to protect your privacy while online from the thousands of individuals who want to steal it from you.
Be safe out there!
No matter how many times you receive spam emails and do not open them, or move them to junk mail, there always seems to be new, unwanted emails sneaking their way into your email's inbox. Sound familiar? If so, read on to learn about the different ways you can stop spam emails permanently.
Be careful who you give your email address to
If you find yourself at an opt-in page that is requesting your name and email address, think twice before submitting your information. Determine if you trust the website. Read through any privacy policies or terms and conditions to see if there are any subtle caveats to handing out your email address. Some businesses will sell your email address to other people you may not want contacting you.
Unsubscribe from mailing lists
If you notice you are receiving excessive emails from the same contact, it may be because you are on their mailing list. You may not have even realized you signed up to be on it, but once you are, most email marketers will want to email you frequently to stay relevant and familiar in your mind and keep their emails from getting lost in the sea of other emails reaching your inbox. If you have had enough of their emails and want to stop them permanently, open one of them up and scroll to the very bottom. There should be an unsubscribe link that you can click on that will remove you from their mailing list.
Training your spam filter
Most email clients have filters for detecting spam. You can train and optimize your spam filter by marking spam emails as spam. If you can identify a spam email by the subject line or contact, do not even open it up, and if you do, definitely do not click on any links or download any files. Just mark the email as spam right away. Additionally, you should periodically review your spam or junk folders for spam emails that your email client filtered out. If you find any emails in your spam folder that you actually do want, label them as such so that your spam filter can better understand what you do and do not consider spam.
Hide your email address
Receiving spam goes hand in hand with accessibility of your email address. Be sure to hide your email address on any social media profiles you have if possible. Decline friend requests from unknown individuals. If you have a website or are required to list your email address, consider writing it out longhand like this:
CONTACT NAME (at) DOMAIN (dot com)
Publicly listed email addresses are easy pickings for spammers. By not writing the "@" symbol, web scraping tools used by spammers will not be able to find your email address. When registering a domain for your website, select to have the domain privacy feature. For business and prospecting purposes, you can also use form services as an alternative to directly giving out your email address.
Use a temporary email address
Your safest bet to stop spam emails permanently is to use a temporary or disposable email address. By using a temporary email address you can misdirect spammers away from your primary email address. You can get a temporary email address in no time and for free. If you are not interested or skeptical of receiving emails from particular sources, a temporary email address will minimize the risk and keep your primary email address safe and sound.
The more methods of preventing spam emails you use the more likely you will be able to stop receiving spam emails permanently. Whether it be monitoring who you give your email address to, unsubscribing from mailing lists, training your spam filter, hiding your email address, or using a temporary email address, any action you take to protect your email address will contribute to halting spam emails.
Are you trying to figure out how spammers find your email address to send you their pesky emails? If so, look no further. Here are six common ways spammers get your email address.
1- Crawling the web
Spammers use "crawl and scrape" or "harvesting" programs to scour web pages for the "@" sign. Since every email address contains the "@" sign, it is easy for harvesting programs to identify and collect publicly posted email addresses. Email addresses visible on social media profiles, "contact" sections of websites, and forums, are all vulnerable to harvesting programs. Harvesting programs can crawl and scrape thousands of addresses per hour to rack up massive lists of email addresses.
2- Buying Lists
Similar to password cracking tools, spammers use "dictionary" or "brute force" programs that essentially make a plethora of good guesses of potential email addresses. The dictionary programs spit out sequential numeric and alphabetic combinations of email addresses. For example, guesses may include common user names paired with common domains such as "email@example.com", "firstname.lastname@example.org", "email@example.com", etc. The extremely fast rate that dictionary tools can generate these guesses and the essentially free cost of sending emails make this method appealing to spammers. Even though many of the guesses may not actually be real email addresses, the sheer quantity of guesses will yield some valid ones.
Email addresses can be leaked from companies with large account databases. Typically the leaking is done by employees of the company or hackers. Leaking is not uncommon. Macy's, Sears, Adidas, Delta, and Panera Bread are just some of the many major companies that have experienced leaks in 2018 alone. Email addresses leaked from these companies are particularly valuable to spammers because most of them should be active. Spammers can buy these leaked email addresses on the dark web or eBay.
One sneaky tactic spammers can implement is sending you a fake "welcome to the newsletter" or "thank you for subscribing" email. At the bottom of every newsletter is a link you can click on to unsubscribe. However, in these fake newsletter emails, the "unsubscribe" link is rigged in such a way that clicking on it confirms to the spammers that there is a real person using the email address. Upon confirming the validity of an email address, spammers will target it with spam mail because they know they have a shot at reaching a real person.
Phishing is when spammers disguise themselves as a false service or identity to "bait" you into giving out your personal information. Phishing can be executed in many forms, such as calling you and pretending to be a bank, sending you a message on Facebook from an account that copied the photos from one of your friends, or sending you an alarming email while pretending to be part of the government. Usually the disguise used in phishing is a trustworthy or reputable source, that way spammers can lure you into a false sense of security.
Spammers have many ways of obtaining your email address. The ever-evolving nature of the internet will inevitably create more opportunities for spammers to blast you with junk mail. Be careful where you post your email address and who you share it with.