Tired of spam? A burner email account could be the answer.
Have you ever been in that situation where you need to give your email address over, but you don’t want to? There could be a security reason. Can you trust who you’re sharing with not to spam your inbox? Are you certain they won’t expose you to data breaches due to lax security on their part? Can you protect your email from being sold in lists, used for ad tracking and targeting or even be uploaded to platforms like Facebook to track and target you there? Or it could be a case of inbox fatigue. Or maybe you just don’t want your email associated with some entities and in their database? Enter the burner email account.
What is a burner email account?
A burner email account is an alias that you don’t plan to use for important personal purposes, and you can throw it away later without messing up your preferred email account. You would use a burner email to sign up for trial services or junk registrations or things you don’t want to associate your legit email account with. The benefit of an email alias is that you can ignore it, check it when needed and dispose of it when it’s no longer useful.
Five reasons to use a burner email account
Just trying something out
A burner email account helps when you’ve landed on a site and can’t get to the content you want unless you register. This is especially true if you’re not committed to the content, service or account, and just want to try things out. Want to read a white paper but don’t want to deal with follow-up sales messages? Use a burner alias. Want to unlock a coupon without committing? Same thing. Once you get going, you’ll find tons of instances where it’s better to use a disposable email instead of your regular one.
Getting a different view
The world is full of so many different opinions, right, left, center and every touchpoint in between. An email alias can let you see what folks are reporting, sharing and publishing without using your real email address. For example, you can subscribe to a newsletter that’s outside your political or cultural comfort zone, and you don’t have to worry about your real email account getting bombarded with related fundraising messages or campaign messages that don’t interest you.
Sometimes it feels like you can’t fully delete your email contact information from promotional databases. You unsubscribed from one list, but others seem to mushroom in its place. Using a disposable email account can reduce your inbox spam. If it gets out of hand, you can delete that account and the spam goes with it.
Protecting your privacy
You probably have only a few email addresses, yet hundreds of online accounts are connected to each one. Your email address is a unique identifier — after all, you’re the only one with it. It’s closely tied to your online identity. That makes your email address a great source of data collection. Firefox Relay is a smart solution for shielding your personal email.
Boosting your security
We all have many online accounts, but most of them are linked to just one or two email addresses. This means if just one account is hacked, every account using the same email address is also at risk. (See: scraping explained.) Using a burner email aliases instead of your real email address can protect your online accounts from hackers.
When not to use a burner email
Keep in mind that burner accounts aren’t ideal for all your email communications. Preserve your main email address for important, confidential or private communication, like with your bank, school, job applications, sports clubs, etc.
There are plenty of services out there for creating email aliases. Some are quick-shots with emails that expire fast. Others send ads to you along with the relayed messages, or track your data in different ways. Some services are one-way, only forwarding messages to your inbox without a reply feature.
How to set up email aliases with Firefox Relay
Firefox Relay is an email forwarding service from Mozilla and is backed by a not-for-profit. It’s a straight-forward service that lets you generate email aliases that forward to your real inbox. Use it to hide your real email address and protect yourself from hackers and unwanted mail. Get started by creating an account at the Firefox Relay website.
Limitations of burner email accounts
Burner email services are great for all the reasons above, but they do have limitations. Occasionally a site might recognize and reject an email address from an alias provider. Disposable email addresses are more likely an issue for the service you’re signing up for, especially if you delete the alias instead of unsubscribing or cancelling your account.
But if you’re looking to protect your real email address — the one most closely tied to your online identity — and control what hits your inbox, an email alias and forwarding service like Firefox Relay could be just what you need.