Keep your e-mail address to yourself

Have you ever visited a web site that asked you to provide your e-mail address to sign up for a service offered on the web site? It’s a very common practice and there’s a good reason for it. On one hand it validates that the registration is coming from a real person and not some automated script designed to hack the web site. On the other hand it prevents people from signing other people up or using someone else’s information, the theory being that you would have to know that other person’s e-mail account information to get away with it.

But all of these security measures present another interesting issue. That is the issue of not wanting to give your e-mail address to a business, especially an online business you know very little about. No one wants more spam and you can never be quite sure what happens to your e-mail address after you submit it on a web site.

So what’s the solution? Here’s one I recently found and immediately fell in love with. It’s called SpamBox. Ironically the first step in using SpamBox is to give them your e-mail address. But you are giving them your e-mail address to prevent spam, not encourage it. They even have a tongue-in-cheek message on their site that reads:

But.. You could be collecting my e-mail address!

Yes, we could be, but we’re not doing it. We’ve got an automatic cleanup agent that wipes out every n-minutes the expired spambox e-mails. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your e-mail to spammers.

SpamBox works by generating a temporary e-mail address for you. You decide how long it is good for and where the actual e-mail is delivered. Setting it up couldn’t be any easier. Just enter your real e-mail address and then select a lifespan anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 year. Click the generate button and you will be presented with your new, temporary e-mail address. Any e-mail sent to the temporary address will automatically be forwarded to the real e-mail address you provided until it expires per the terms you requested. Once it is expired, all records of the temporary e-mail address and real e-mail address are deleted.

So the next time you go to a web site that tells you they need to send verification information to your e-mail address, hop on over to SpamBox, set up a temporary e-mail address and set it for 30 minutes. Then give your temporary e-mail address to the web site. You’ll still get the e-mail you need from the web site but you’ll never receive another e-mail from the web site or any other person ever again.

Just to have some fun, I went ahead and set up a SpamBox e-mail today, good for one week. The address is [email protected]. Go ahead and e-mail me. I’d love to hear from you. Just do it before September 21, 2006 or you’ll be out of luck!