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Fake email addresses can help protect your privacy online

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If you’ve ever searched for a product online, you know it doesn’t take long before targeted ads show up on your screen for the exact item you were looking for.

While companies can track your searches, what they really want to get their hands on is your personal email address so they can send offers directly to your inbox.

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When you sign up for services or to try to get a discount online, chances are you’re asked for your e-mail address. If you give it out, you could get e-mails you don’t want and end up on spam mailing lists.

To protect your privacy and limit spam, there are now websites that generate temporary or fake e-mails that can be used once and then discarded.

Big tech companies are sharing details about almost everything you do on the internet and that includes what you search, the websites you visit and the people you connect with online, and, according to Consumer Reports, the primary way they do this is with your email address.

 “One of the main ways that they do it is tying your identity together using your e-mail address,” Thomas Germain, a tech editor with Consumer Reports, told CTV News Toronto.

Germain said if you want to limit spam and protect your privacy, you may want to try an alternative or fake e-mail service.

“There are a number of these tools and they all work a little bit differently, but basically they give you an alternative email that isn’t tied to your identity that you can plug in when you’re signing up on a new website,” Germain said.

 You may have seen “sign in with Apple” on some sites. This generates a random, unique e-mail address for Apple users. Then, any e-mails from that site can be forwarded to your regular inbox without them ever knowing your real address.

The upside is you get the e-mails you need without being tracked. The Firefox browser offers Firefox Relay which allows users to create up to five fake e-mail addresses for free or get unlimited ones for 99 cents a month.

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

For most temporary e-mail services, you don’t even have to create an account. 10minutemail, Temp-mail, Minute Inbox, and EmailOnDeck are popular services.

Websites like these could come in handy if you’re asked for an e-mail address to get an instant online discount or an e-mail is required for a service you only plan to use once.

The added bonus to using any fake or temporary e-mail address is that you’ll end up with less spam in your real inbox.

While a fake or temporary e-mail can help reduce unwanted e-mails that you receive, you should always use your real e-mail address in any correspondence with your bank, doctor or if you’re receiving concert tickets or boarding passes.





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