How many email addresses do you have? If you’re like most Americans, you have two – personal and work.
But there’s a large number – 28% – who have four or more email addresses. And according to tech experts who say that if you slice and dice your email addresses the right way, you’ll not only declutter your digital life, but you will protect yourself better when it comes to phishing and financial scams.
The privacy and scam experts that ConsumerAffairs spoke to were pretty much in agreement that the magic number is four or five email addresses and they’re shoulder to shoulder on what those addresses should be, too.
Family, friends, and your trusted acquaintances. Give it out only to those who fit that description and avoid using it for public sign-ups or registrations. That way, you’ll minimize spam and unwanted intrusions into your personal space.
This account should be solely for work-related matters. That way, you can ensure clarity, maintain professionalism – and most importantly – strengthen security by limiting the exposure of your personal information to professional contacts.
Wolfgang Goerlich, Faculty Member at IANS Research, insists a separate shopping — including for subscriptions and newsletters — email account is an absolute must.
“For example, a shipping scam or invoicing scam sent to an email address not used for shopping is easily spotted,” he told ConsumerAffairs.
“Say one of your email addresses gets compromised because of clicking on a scam, or falling for a phishing email, the criminal wouldn’t be able to get into your bank if it’s through a separate address. And when a website or app gets breached, and they often do, it helps to keep things separate.”
Another reason to split shopping emails out from your personal email is that scammers thrive on shopping-related personal information that’s sold on the dark web. And they’re using that data to increase their efforts toward brand impersonation scams, which the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said brought consumers $200 million more in fraud pain in 2022 than they did in 2021.
Having a social media/online forum-only email address helps control privacy, and like the other separate accounts, reduces spam in your primary accounts. Besides, you can get all those social media notifications in one place and not sprinkled throughout everything else in your in-box.
Financial scams ruined more consumers’ lives than any other ruse in 2023. And having an email account exclusively for banking, investments, and other financial activities could create a fortress against those cons.
It will add an extra layer of protection to your sensitive financial information by isolating it from potential phishing attempts and suspicious emails that might target your other accounts.
Setting everything up
What is the best way to manage them in one place? Believe it or not, it’s not difficult at all.
Josh Amishav, founder and CEO at Breachsense, suggests you use an email client like Gmail, Outlook, or Thunderbird to manage multiple accounts through a single platform. And most browsers these days allow you to “pin” multiple sites so you could, in theory, have all 4-5 email in-boxes set up as tabs next to each other in your browser.
Both Jeff Reich, executive director at the Identity Defined Security Alliance (IDSA), and Raluca Saceanu, is CEO of global cybersecurity company Smarttech247, emphasize that the most important ingredient is setting up either a “password safe” or “password manager.”
“For those who use a credential or a password manager, it becomes an easy task to manage the accounts. Under no circumstances should you ever use a password for one account on another, that cancels the entire principle of the separation,” Reich said.