OK, so a couple of ideas that are relatively new to me, and might be to other folks as well.
- Gmail will accept email addresses that are slightly different from your “real” address. You can add filters for any of the above, sending incoming emails to those specific addresses to specific labels, or the trash, or marking them read, or whatever.
- Gmail ignores periods (dots), so firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com and bo.b….firstname.lastname@example.org will all get to you, whichever is the “real” one
- Better yet, gmail will also ignore anything after a “+” sign in your address. So, email@example.com still gets to you. Or firstname.lastname@example.org, if you’re doing something other than trying to reduce spam.
- Both of these options, though, still expose your gmail account login name, so there is a case for replacing these with a more anonymous service that doesn’t show your gmail/google account info.
- http://notsharingmy.info/ was news to me, but seems like a brilliant idea. It basically gives you a email@example.com email address that forwards to your “real” address, permanently, for free. After being forwarded to gmail, they still show as being “to” the notsharingmyinfo address, so you can create (and filter on arrival) two anonymous addresses:
- The first would be for stuff where you just didn’t want to give out your address, but still consider the incoming email to be legitimate. So, an account somplace that you’re a member of and want communications from, but don’t need tied to “you” specifically.
- The second woudl be for stuff where you’re forced to use an email to sign in, but have no interest in ever hearing from. Plenty of sites force an email address as your account “name,” which is pretty annoying when they’re not of long-term interest, because you just know they’re going to keep using that email.
Once you’ve set up a filter to catch any emails to your notsharingmyinfo addresses (again, they still show as the “to” in the incoming emails) you should send a tester to the address and make sure they’re doing what you think they should (being sent straight to the trash, for example).
Once you’ve verified this, you can start using the appropriate anonymous email wherever you like. I would suggest using the real (non-anonymous) email address anywhere where you’re spending money (amazon, say) but there may not be that many other places where your main gmail/google account needs to be out there.
You can also add these emails to your contacts, maybe as “Anonymous Email” and “Anonymous Spam Email” because they’re not very memorable, and this gives you an easy way to look them up later on (either in contacts, or by composing an email and typing “anon” into the address field).
Finally, there are other email services than gmail. https://protonmail.com/ gives you a limited but perfectly adequate free encrypted email account that would be really, really separate from your other stuff, and they have an app for your phone as well. I’m not sure yet if this is going to be useful (checking two inboxes, using their app, etc) and I don’t need the encryption, but I like the idea.