Spam, junk mail, and telemarketing sometimes reaches a point where it becomes more than a minor nuisance. There’s only so much you can do in protecting your contact information yet still being able to provide it when necessary. Whether or not you’ve reached your boiling point or simply want to attack the issue before it becomes a problem, we’ve devised a few tips and tricks that work splendidly in regulating all the crap that comes our way.
A great way to help wade through the copious amounts of spam e-mail is to protect your primary e-mail address. When you need to sign up for something, use an alternate e-mail address dedicated to that purpose. This way you have a separation between crap you’ve (allegedly) signed up for and messages for friends and family. Your main inbox is now clean with real messages and that e-mail address isn’t floating around everywhere. All the websites you’ve registered for and spam messages now go to that other e-mail address which you don’t have to check as often.
An advanced option taking this tactic to the next level is to purchase a domain name and with hosted mail services set up a “catch-all” e-mail address for the domain that filters to a single e-mail address. You can then use an infinite number of e-mail addresses at that domain, customizing the name to the purpose, and check it in one spot. For example you can use “firstname.lastname@example.org” and “email@example.com” which will both go to your “firstname.lastname@example.org” which you can check in one location. Then if any one e-mail address starts getting spam other than which you signed up for you can block your own e-mail address, setting it to go straight to the trash.
Telephone Sign up for a free Google Voice account and now every time you need to give your phone number out to a store, form, registration, etc. you can use your Google Voice number. You can still forward the Google Voice number to your cell phone or (gasp) land line but now you can screen your calls, knowing that any call to the Google Voice number isn’t personal. Let it go to voicemail and check the e-mail Google sends you that transcribes the message to see if it was anything worth your while. The transcription service isn’t great but it’s good enough to get the general gist of the message.
Use a fake name! Pick the name your teacher gave you in Spanish or French class, just don’t give out your real name. When you signup for magazines, newspapers, websites, etc. just use a pseudonym. Now your real name isn’t printed on everything in sight. You can also use variations of names to know the source of where the junk came from, incorporating what it is you’re signing up for into the name. That way you can tell whether any piece of mail you get is important or not, as well as where the offender got your name from.