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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Find Out Which Website is Selling Your Email

Have you ever looked at all of the spam coming in to your email account and wondered how all of these places got your address?  Well, some of them use generators that create random email addresses and just ignore the ones that get sent back and save the ones that don't for future use.  However, many of the others are bought through services that broker email addresses.  Many of the brokers get email addresses by buying them from less-than-reputable websites that will sell their membership list for a tidy sum.

So, how can you tell if a site has sold your email address?  Well, if you have a Gmail account, it's pretty simple.  Let's say your email address is "bob@gmail.com".  (Sorry, Bob!)  The next time you go to a website you can make a small change to your email address to make it unique for that website.  Let's say you want to signup at my site for a newletter, or something else that does not exist right now, you could input your address as something like "bob+etg@gmail.com"(etg being short for EricTheGeek).  The "+etg" is a valid way of giving an email address for Gmail.  When a website sends an email to the address above, Gmail will ignore the "+etg" and just send it to your email address.

Being able to do this makes it very easy to notice if spam is coming from a specific site so you can take appropriate action with that site.  The other great option this gives you is to use the filters in Gmail to process emails from specific sites.  So, you could use this for your credit card company and be alerted when they send you an email.  You could use this for so many options that it becomes kinda fun to see how you can manage your email using this trick.

So, give this a try and let me know if you are able to use this, or let me know if you have any similar email hacks that you use.

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