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Email Address Scams


Chances are you've visited a website that pops an alert in the middle of the page saying something like: "Sign up and save 10%!"

We have all seen this right? Well, not so fast, do not be so quick to sign-up. Don't enter your email address unless you want more spam!

Believe it or not, websites can grab your email address before you even press Enter or submit the form. The same JavaScript that displays the promo offer may also capture what you type in the text field before you submit it. You would be shocked to find out that many websites do this.

The same principle applies to the checkout page of an e-commerce site. If you enter your email address, then abandon the shopping cart, the site may still capture the text from the email field and start sending you emails. While sites can "remarket" to you based on other identifiers — such as Google Analytics, Facebook/Instagram, cookies, Shopify tracking, etc. causing your email address to be sold and spammed. There's no need to supply your email address directly unless you're required.

It should always be clear when an advertiser is collecting data. A website that captures your email addresses before you submit the form unethical. So wait to type your email address until it's absolutely required.

ALWAYS read the fine print before entering your email.

Most ecommerce websites will try and trick you. They require you to enter your email to sign-up and save, then in the "Privacy Policy" you are agreeing to allow them to track you and sell your information. YIKES! This is asking for more spam. Your inbox could be inundated with unsolicited marketing emails.

It's common for businesses to sell or share your email address with other unknown parties. In addition, the more widely used your email address is with major businesses, the more likely that your email will end up part of a large data breach sold on the dark web.

Not only do you need to worry about spam...

You need to worry about what information someone can get from your email address.

An email is almost like an identity card for our digital lives. We use it to sign up for social media accounts, manage our online banking accounts, manage our health data through apps, apply for jobs, and so much more. Just like you wouldn’t unthinkingly provide your ID for anyone to see, you should think twice about sharing your email address.

Here’s what someone could find with just your email address:

1. Your location, friends, and family.

A simple Google search of your email address (try it) could bring up linked social media accounts. Depending on how private your account is, information like where you live, what school you go to, who your friends and family are, and even your photos can be found.

2. Your views and opinions.

If someone can connect your email to blogs or forum comments (past or recent), they’ll be able to know what you think about various topics. Creepy.

3. Your employment history.

On websites like LinkedIn, a search of your email address can reveal your profile, giving up your employment history.

4. Your public records.

If you’ve had criminal charges, ongoing court cases, or even declared bankruptcy, this information could potentially be found.

5. Your frequently used apps and websites.

Through an advertising framework called Unified ID 2.0, your email address gets tied to a token that tracks your web activity across apps and websites to serve you personalized ads. Unified ID 2.0 is designed to work like old-school trackers, and bypass privacy features like Apple’s App Tracking Transparency.

That’s a scary amount of information for a stranger to find out and enough for them to build a detailed profile about you. Scammers could tailor their phishing attacks using this information, making you more likely to fall into their scams.

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