How and When to Use an Email Alias
Using an alias may sound shady, but when your inbox is deluged by mail from sites that you've had to provide an email address to get the information you really wanted, creating a dummy email can be useful.
You know the drill. You see an interesting report, need a "free" insurance quote or want to order a pizza online. While you won't pay outright, many sites ask for your email address in exchange for information or services. And then the mail starts coming in, cluttering your inbox with follow-up offers. Technically, this mail is not spam ― you gave permission to the sender ― but it may be just as unwanted as spam.
Creating an alias email account is the answer, but until recently the process could be cumbersome or pose a security threat.
Hotmail and Gmail allow users to add a "+" sign and a word on the beginning of their email addresses to create a new account. For instance, if my email address was email@example.com, to create an alias for online shopping where future deals could be stored, I would simply use firstname.lastname@example.org. Email sent to this alias would be delivered to my inbox or to a particular folder.
However, the "+" system makes it easy for cyber-thieves or spammers to determine real addresses, and in some cases it may be preferable to set up a completely different email address. While there are a number of free online services that allow people to set up temporary accounts, users access these accounts outside of their regular email accounts, which can prove less convenient.
Problem solved. Microsoft has added an email alias function to Hotmail where users can create completely different addresses within their Hotmail account. The account can be deleted at any time.
Whenever you request quotes, download whitepapers or shop on sites that require an email address, consider using an alias. If you are not familiar with a site or are uncertain about its operations, always use an alias email as a protective layer between a site and your identity.
Aside from protection, using alias emails may be useful in organizing online interactions. For instance, if you're looking for a job, you may want to use an alternate address to keep this communication separate and more noticeable in your inbox.
Sign in to your Hotmail account. Go to your inbox. In the upper left-hand corner is the heading “Inbox” with a number indicating the number of new emails currently in your box. Move your cursor over the blue shaded box and a gear icon will appear. Click on it to see a dropdown menu that includes “Create a Hotmail alias.”
Type in the email address for your alias. The extension "@hotmail.com" is the default; use the dropdown menu to select "@live.com" if you prefer. Next you may choose to have any incoming mail to the new alias address put in a folder by the same name or an existing folder in your primary inbox. You will receive a confirmation message from the Hotmail Team. Note you may also send email from the alias, but you cannot sign in to Hotmail with it.
Hotmail users can add up to five aliases per year with a 15 alias maximum.