Earlier this year the company I bought my HVAC system from emailed me to let me know my free maintenance service appointment was expiring. When I bought the new system I got a free maintenance appointment but I was running out of time to schedule it. I would love a free maintenance checkup for my HVAC system. But it didn’t quite turn out the way I would have wanted it to.
That's because I had missed reading the email before the offer expired.
They had sent it to my old Hotmail account. My inbox for that email address has quite a bit of spam so I don't check as religiously as I do my other inboxes. That email account is my oldest, and it's been used in a lot of places over the year thus it receives a lot of unwanted junk.
Spam email is annoying but it can become problematic. In some cases, spam may be part of a phishing scam. If you make the mistake of replying to a spam sender, you’re confirming to malicious actors that your email address exists, and things can get pretty dangerous at this point.
You can set up spam filters but they’re not 100% effective. You will need to train the filters to detect spam. Other than that, you can only hit the unsubscribe button, which isn’t a permanent solution because you’ll still keep getting new spam.
This brings me to the topic of my post - using a unique email address for every service you use. Not only would you be lightening your inbox of spam, you would also be benefitting in other ways.
How do email aliases work? How do they control spam?
An email alias is a disposable email address. You can create one for each service you’ve signed up to. If one of those services starts spamming you, your actual email address won’t receive the emails. That means a lighter, more secure inbox.
Say the local supermarket you visit had their systems compromised. Your email address (among other financial and personally identifiable information) is in the hacker’s custody and you will start receiving spam emails. With an alias address, your personal email account is safe against the repercussions of a data breach. After that it’s just a matter of turning off or removing the particular alias, and your spam is gone!
Easily protect your identity online
If you’re in a job that requires you to participate on online forums, represent your company on social media, write reviews, cover/comment on news and events, you may be receiving unwanted or even abusive email. Rather than sharing your actual email address on social media, domains and websites, you can have an alias for each. Once they’re activated, you will have a good idea about who you want to block and who are the useful contacts you can keep. Aliases are ideal when you need to voice your opinions or send tips or leaks via email in addition to another secure channel such as Signal.
Identify phishing scams
Phishing scams are becoming more creative, making differences between legitimate and malicious email less apparent to the human eye. Phishing attacks via email tend to increase during ‘opportune’ times, such as the coronavirus pandemic, where scared populations have become an easy target of scammers.
Alias email addresses offer protection against phishing email. If you’ve signed up with a particular alias at Amazon, and a phishing email arrives to a different alias pretending to be from Amazon Customer Support, you can immediately identify that the sender is not who they claim to be, and simply ignore the email.
Have a backup if your password is lost or leaked
All email providers ask you to add a back-up email account in the event that your account has been hacked or otherwise compromised. You also need a secondary email to reset your password, as part of a standard recovery procedure.
A different email address is useful in such situations. An alias email address is a preferable back-up after a hack as hackers will not be able to link your compromised email address and credentials to another of your publicly available email addresses online. And if you use the same password for all accounts, you could find yourself in a bit of a pickle. This is not a problem when you have an alias email address to which the compromised email can’t trace back.
Prevent correspondence from piling up in one account
If you need to communicate with many third-party businesses, dedicated email addresses for each function or groups of vendors can streamline communications more effectively. You can add one or more persons to oversee different accounts to ensure visibility into incoming and outgoing communications.
Keep track of different email addresses
Alias email addresses assure privacy and protection. You can create as many email addresses as you wish. As you keep adding aliases, make sure you use a password manager to store login credentials and manage all your accounts easily.