A Simple Gmail Trick You Should Be Using
In an age where personal privacy is being attacked from every direction, Gmail, (Yes, that’s right, Gmail) offers its users a way to find out who is sharing or selling their email address. And if you use Gmail, you should be using this trick.
Let’s say you want to sign up for email updates from Home Depot and McDonald’s (I’m just sayin’ now). You may want updates from Home Depot and McDonald’s (maybe they’re having a BOGO?), but you sure don’t want Home Depot or McDonald’s sharing or selling your email address, right?
People with large lists of email subscribers can make oodles of money by selling email addresses to others – even competitors. Now, we’re not saying Home Depot is going to sell your info to Menard’s or Lowe’s, or anyone else. And we’re not saying that Micky D’s is going to sell your information or share it with Burger King or Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse (heaven forbid) or anyone else. We’re just saying, OK?
And sometimes you don’t even want to sign up for email updates, but stores ask for your email address at checkout. Let’s use Ace Hardware for example (and again, we’re not saying Ace Hardware is doing this – we’re just sayin’). Let’s say you buy something at Ace Hardware and, as part of the checkout process, they ask for your email address. And you give them your Gmail address.
So, what’s the trick?
OK. Let’s go back to sayin’. Let’s say you do sign up for a Home Depot credit card or to receive email updates from Home Depot. For this tip, let’s say your name is Wembly Mingler III (I’m sorry) and your Gmail address is WemblyMinglerIII@gmail.com.
When you sign up for a Home Depot Credit Card or you sign up to receive their email alerts use WembleyMinglerIII+HomeDepot@Gmail.com. See? Lucky for us, Gmail automatically ignores any characters that follow a plus sign. So, if Home Depot is sharing your email, you’ll start seeing emails from other places addressed to WemblyMinglerIII+HomeDepot@Gmail.com, and then you’ll know for sure that Home Deport sold or shared your email address. Gotcha!
One more example, and we’re sorry about this Wembly.
Let’s say you sign up for updates from McDonald’s — because you want to know when McDonald’s is giving away Big Macs or large fries. Instead of giving them your WemblyMinglerIII@Gmail.com address, you give them WemblyMinglerIII+McDonalds@Gmail.com. Then, down the road, if you start seeing emails from Ruth’s Chris or Taco Bell showing up addressed to WemblyMinglerIII+McDonalds@Gmail.com you’ll know Micky D’s has been selling or sharing your email address. Gotcha, Micky!
This trick has other uses too. Let’s say you’re the president of a Wembly’s Chess Club. And you want a way to easily sort all the emails about your chess club. You could create a WemblyMinglerIII+Chess@Gmail.com to easily keep track of and find all chess-related emails with a simple search.
Do you have an Outlook.com or Hotmail.com address? You can use this tip with any Outlook.com or Hotmail address too!
Bonus Tip #2
Did you know that email addresses are not case-sensitive?
WEMBLYMINGLERIII@gmail.com is the same as WemblyMinglerIII@Gmail.com and the same as WEmBlyMInGLerIII@gMAil.cOM.