Ever wondered which website stole your address and sold it to nasty spammers?
If you use GMail you can use a handy feature known as "Plus Addressing
", which lets you receive emails into one GMail account using a variety of email addresses.
When spam arrives in your inbox, you can use the extra information you put into your email address to figure out which website sold your email address or spammed you.How to do it:
You don't need to make any changes to your GMail account. When signing up to each new website or mailing address, use a slightly different email address.
For example, if your email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, when you sign up to www.last.fm, you can use the email address kirkjackson+www.last.fm
@gmail.com and the mail will still come through to your GMail account.
e.g. Sign up to each site with a distinctive email address:
live.com - email@example.com
facebook.com - firstname.lastname@example.org
evilnasty.com - email@example.com
etcWhen you receive emails:
Each email you receive in GMail will have a different "to" address, with the site that sent it to you. Click "Show details" on the message to see the full address that the email was sent to.
If you're receiving spam to a particular email address (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org), then you know which site to complain to -- although that probably won't work. But better than that, you can write quite a simple filter in GMail delete messages as soon as they arrive.Caveats
This works best for sign up emails to sites that you don't trust, and that you don't expect to use again. It can be hard to remember your email address to log in if you need to return to Facebook.
If spammers get smart, they could just send email to your base email address (e.g. email@example.com), even if you entered firstname.lastname@example.org into their site.
Some websites won't allow you to enter +'s into an email address form -- because they haven't read RFC 2882