If you’ve been using the Internet for more than five minutes you’re probably used to receiving SPAM messages in your email inbox.
I don’t know about you, but for me that’s one of the most irritating annoyances there is when using the Internet.
Although there’s really no way to find out how the SPAMMERs who are already sending you junk emails got their hands on your email address, there’s a very simple way to find out where new breaches/leaks originally occurred.
All you have to do is append a few extra characters to the first part of your email address. Here’s how:
1 – Add a plus sign (+) to the end of the first part of your email address (the part that’s in front of the @ sign).
2 – Right after the plus sign add a few characters that identify where you’re using the email address.
For example, let’s say you’re using your email address to open an account at Ebay.
During the signup process you’ll be asked to enter your email address.
If your email address was JaneDoe@gmail.com you would enter the following into the signup form:
If your email address was email@example.com and you were signing up for a Dropbox account you could enter something like this:
Pretty simple, right?
This works because everything after the plus sign will be ignored by the Internet’s email pipeline.
Any messages sent to the “made-up” email address will be delivered to the original email address just fine.
The only difference is the “To:” field in your incoming emails will display the “made-up” email address instead of the original email address.
For example, if you were to enter JaneDoefirstname.lastname@example.org into the Ebay signup form and then a hacker manages to steal your email address from Ebay, any incoming SPAM emails sent to that stolen email address will have JaneDoeemail@example.com listed in the email’s “To:” field.
That means if you start receiving SPAM emails with that email address in the “To:” field you’ll know immediately that the email address was either stolen from, leaked by, or sold by Ebay.
Note: I’m not implying in any way that Ebay might compromise your email address. This is simply an illustration.
You can easily give this technique a try right now if you want…
Simply create a new email addressed to yourself (yes, you can send an email to yourself), but add something like +test immediately before the @ sign in “To:” field.
After you’ve written a short test message just click the “Send” button and wait for the email to arrive in your inbox.
When the test email arrives it should have your original email address plus the extra characters you added to it in the “To:” field.
Bottom line: If you add a plus sign followed by a short description of the website in question to your email address every time you sign up for something on the Internet, you’ll always know exactly where future SPAMMER(s) got your email address!
To finish up, here’s a fantastic video that explains why Gmail is such a great choice for your email provider. Check it out!
Note: As always, you can watch the video at full screen by clicking the “square” icon that will pop up in the lower-right corner of the video after it begins playing.
Bonus tip: NEVER click the “Unsubscribe” link in a SPAM email. Just don’t do it!
Read this post over at my Rick’s Daily Tips Tech Blog to find out why.