A disposable email address is an email account that you setup for those times when you need a valid email address but don't want to give out your primary email. Let's look at some reasons why you might consider using a disposable email account:
The number one reason why many people use disposable email addresses is to avoid having their main email address become a target for SPAM.
We all hate sifting through the mountain of SPAM that clogs our inbox. SPAM filtering technology has become more refined over the years, but spammers and scammers seem to be getting more adept at fooling our filters. They'll change a few letters of a word they know will be filtered just enough to get it past our SPAM rules.
Whenever you register on a website that requires a valid email address, you run the risk of the site inundating you with marketing material, 3rd party advertisements, etc. There is often a lot of fine print that we overlook that may give the site permission to use our email address and oftentimes provides them with permission to sell our information to others.
This is when using a disposable email address makes the most sense. It gives you the ability to register with a valid address but it doesn't clog up your real email address with junk mail since the disposable email address absorbs all the SPAM on your behalf.
You shouldn't use disposable email addresses for anything finance-related or on sites that will contain sensitive information about you because many disposable email addresses don't require you to have a password to access your disposable email box. If the site you are registering with has any personal information on it that you want protected you should choose your real email or a secondary e-mail that is password protected.
Protecting Your Identity When Contacting Buyers or Sellers on Site's Such as Craigslist
Craigslist provides you with a free proxy (go-between) email address so that you don't have to reveal your true email address to potential buyers or sellers, however, when you respond to a buyer or seller, your true email address is revealed. There are ways to try and obfuscate your true identity by changing the "From" field and whatnot, but the e-mail header information may end up revealing your true email address even if you changed the "From" field.
To be on the safe side, use a disposable email address for communicating with a buyer or seller on Craigslist or other sites like it. This is also a good idea for personal ad sites as well. Check out our article on How to Buy and Sell Safely on Craigslist for other Craigslist-related safety tips.
Find Out Who Sold Your Personal Information
If you've always wondered who sold your personal information to spammers and other third parties, now you can find out. The next time you register on a website, use a disposable email address service that let's you create the address name (or at least part of it). Add the website name that you are registering on to the disposable e-mail address name that you create.
If you start getting email sent to your disposable address from companies other than the website you used it on (assuming that's the only place you used that particular email address) then you can logically infer that the site sold your information to a third party who is now spamming you.
How do I obtain a disposable email address?
There are many disposable email address providers out there, some better than others. Some of the more popular ones include Mailinator and GishPuppy. You can also check out About.com's Top 6 Disposable email providers for some more suggestions.