Consumer Reports: Alternative emails used for online services

For most temporary email services, you don't even have to create an account.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- If your privacy is important to you, Consumer Reports has one thing you should do to protect yourself online. It's easy and effective, but not many people do it.

Some attempt to use a fake name to protect themselves, but experts say that doesn't keep companies from tracking you.

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

These days many big tech companies share details about almost everything you do on the internet.

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

"One of the main ways that they do it is tying your identity together using your email address," said Thomas Germain, Consumer Reports tech editor.

If you want to limit that, Consumer Reports said you might want to try an alternative or fake email 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 real identity that you can plug in when you're signing up on a new website," he said.

Maybe you've seen "Sign in with Apple" on some sites. It generates a random, unique email address for Apple users.

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

The upside is you'll get 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 unlimited ones for 99 cents a month.

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

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

When would something like this come in handy? Maybe when you're asked for an email address to get an instant online discount.

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

You may think creating an extra Gmail or another email account will keep big tech from tracking you, but CR said if you're using the same devices, companies will easily be able to identify you.

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