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Identity theft is on the rise. According to StatisticBrain, there are between 12 and 15 million victims every year with an average loss of about $5,000 per victim. What would you do if you were next?

There are so many different ways your identity can be stolen these days. Social security numbers and banking PINs are the obvious methods, but here are a few other methods you may not be aware of:

You can’t be in 100% control over all of these potential attack vectors, but it’s in your best interest to cover your tracks as much as possible. Risk minimization is the name of the game, and one way to do that is to use disposable information on the web whenever you can.

1. Disposable Name and Address

In 2014, a SWAT team busted into the house of a well-known gaming streamer (named Kootra) when one of his watchers phoned in a prank claiming that he was holding people hostage.

In the most recent election, Trump supporters on social media were heavily “doxed” — their real-life personal details were discovered and released to the public, opening the door for others to abuse that information however they saw fit.

These are just two of many ways in which your life can be unexpectedly ruined on the internet. Other ways include being scammed, being stalked, and being hacked.

disposable-account-fake-details

Unless absolutely necessary, never input your real name or address on a website. You never know how it could be traced back to you, and if that ever happens, you won’t realize it until it’s too late.

And that’s why you should use Fake Name Generator, which can fabricate entire identities that you can use in place of your real self. The fake details include addresses, GPS locations, online usernames, credit card numbers, employment info, and more. It’s actually quite impressive.

2. Disposable Phone Number

Let’s say you just got a brand new DSLR and you want to sell your old one on Craigslist or eBay. On the one hand, you should put your phone number up in case they want to ask you questions or discuss pricing. On the other hand, why would you ever publicize your phone number like that?

The answer is to use a disposable phone number that you can dismantle as soon as you no longer need it.

This is also useful when signing up for websites that require you to enter a phone number because it’s likely that your phone number will be sold to telemarketers — so once you start receiving spam calls, you can just dismantle it and move onto a new disposable number.

disposable-account-phone-number

Hushed is an excellent app for this, available for both Android and iOS. You can create numbers in over 40 countries, these numbers are forwarded to your real number, and each number gets its own voicemail. Costs $4 per month, $30 per year, or pay-as-you-go for $0.05 per minute.

Google Voice is also an option. The upside is that it’s free, but the downside is that it doesn’t have as many anonymity features as Hushed and is only available in the U.S.

3. Disposable Email Inbox

Here’s the truth about email spam: there’s no way to avoid it What Everybody Ought to Know About Dealing With Email Spam What Everybody Ought to Know About Dealing With Email Spam It might be next to impossible to stop spam completely, but it's certainly possible to reduce its flow to a trickle. We outline some of the different measures you can take. Read More . If your email address is made public in any way, even for no reason other than to create an account on a website, then spammers will somehow find it.

But what’s even worse is that if spammers can find your email address, then so can hackers — if a hacker finds your email address, then he gains access to everything in your inbox.

Now think about how much sensitive information your inbox contains: new account welcome details, password resets, personal correspondences, login credentials, etc. If someone gains access to your inbox, they gain access to your whole life — especially if you use one password for all of your accounts.

disposable-account-temp-email

A disposable email address can mitigate both of these problems.

We recommend using 10MinuteMail, which creates a temporary inbox that self-destructs after 10 minutes (though you can keep extending it by an additional 10 minutes if you need to). This way you never have to expose your real email address.

4. Disposable Login Credentials

While we’re on the topic of account creation on the web, you should know that there are several occasions where you may not need to create an account at all — you can just use one that somebody else created and shared for public access.

BugMeNot is pretty much the only site that does this, but that’s actually a good thing because it means everyone uses it, resulting in more accounts shared.

There are three restrictions on what kinds of accounts can’t be shared: paywall account sites, community-edited sites, and fraud risk sites likes banks and online shops. All other sites are fair game.

disposable-account-bugmenot

So what’s the point? It allows you to see what creating an account would get you without having to go through the hassle of creating one yourself.

For example, some forums force you to make an account before you can read anything, while some sites require an account to access download links. With BugMeNot, you can check all of that out without risking your own personal information in the process.

5. Disposable File Sharing

If there’s one more thing you should keep both anonymous and disposable, it’s any file that you share with friends or family on the web.

There isn’t much risk of having your identity stolen when sharing files (unless the file itself contains information that can be used to identify you) but it’s good to use a disposable service for privacy’s sake anyway.

disposable-account-file-transfer

A lot of hosting services 15 Super Quick Ways to Share Files Without Cloud Storage 15 Super Quick Ways to Share Files Without Cloud Storage There are many ways to share files between people and devices. With these 15 tools, you can share files quickly without app downloads, account registrations, or any cloud storage setups. Read More will auto-delete files after a given time period, anywhere from 24 hours to 30 days or even longer, but we recommend using Send Anywhere because it deletes as soon as the file is downloaded.

Other Ways to Keep Your Identity Safe

How will you know if your identity has been stolen? By staying on top of the warning signs 6 Warning Signs Of Digital Identity Theft You Shouldn't Ignore 6 Warning Signs Of Digital Identity Theft You Shouldn't Ignore Identity theft isn't too rare of an occurrence these days, yet we often fall into the trap of thinking that it'll always happen to "someone else". Don't ignore the warning signs. Read More ! You have to be proactive. The moment your identity gets stolen is when the clock starts ticking, and the sooner you catch it the more likely you’ll be able to recover from it.

On top of using disposable accounts, you should start using stronger passwords 7 Password Mistakes That Will Likely Get You Hacked 7 Password Mistakes That Will Likely Get You Hacked The worst passwords of 2015 have been released, and they're quite worrying. But they show that it's absolutely critical to strengthen your weak passwords, with just a few simple tweaks. Read More and even consider using a password manager You Need to Start Using a Password Manager Right Now You Need to Start Using a Password Manager Right Now By now, everyone should be using a password manager. In fact, not using a password manager put you at greater risk of being hacked! Read More . To really stay safe, do what the online security experts do 8 Tips for Online Safety Used by Security Experts 8 Tips for Online Safety Used by Security Experts Want to stay safe online? Then forget everything you think you know about passwords, antivirus and online security because it's time to be retrained. Here's what the experts actually do. Read More .

Have you ever dealt with identity theft? Know of any other tips worth mentioning? Or any other disposable accounts to start using? Share with us in the comments below!

Image Credit: Sira Anamwong via Shutterstock.com

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  1. Easy Live Trade
    February 15, 2016 at 7:41 am

    Nice

  2. hern
    January 15, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    I've used mailinator.com for years for quick disposable email and spam prevention. Works flawlessly!!

  3. Bakari Chavanu
    January 15, 2010 at 9:59 am

    Aibek, great article. But I signed up on Numbr and they want to $6.99 for the service. Did I miss something about the free service?

    • Aibek
      January 15, 2010 at 10:52 am

      Hey Bakari, it's been a wile since we covered it so probably they have turned it into a paid service now :-(

      • MikeVertx
        January 16, 2010 at 10:40 am

        sadly this is the case :*(

        http://inumbr.com/features = $6.99 per month.

        a shame. It served a perfect purpose as a temporary solution. I would pay say 79cents per basic post if craigslist offered a temporary number as an option when posting.

  4. solarpanelsforsale
    December 12, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    These are all cool, but I always wonder what kind of information these sites collect as well lol.

  5. Working Online
    August 18, 2009 at 2:16 am

    This is much appreciated, trying to make a living online and spam doesnt mix at all.

  6. wones
    June 28, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Great Articles!!!

    PeopleSearches.com

  7. larry
    March 4, 2009 at 7:42 am

    http://www.yopmail.com is the best in my opinion . it is free, reliable and multilingual service.

    I have been using mailnator and other leading services for a while. They have downtimes, and unlike yopmail delete the mails in few hours. But yopmail keeps the messages for 5 days.

    YOPmail stands out is being the most neat, quick, and user-friendly disaposable service around. Have used it for sometime now , it has never disappointed me. There si no registration required, and it can be used on the fly.

    It has some pretty creative options like widgets, and RSS feeds. furthermore, it is possible to switch between html and text view and to display all email headers.

    Also, one can choose his own username while composing a mail. There are a few domain names a user can choose from. Email aliases, and random email generator is also available.

    Serves all my purpose conveniently ;)

  8. cjsavvy
    February 19, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    Great post. I use hidemyassmail.com.

  9. DanielS
    February 15, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    I just wanted to make a quick update to your readers, Both Mintemail and file.io are both down. Mintemail might return but I think file.io is gone for good which is too bad.

    • Aibek
      February 19, 2009 at 2:24 am

      Thank you. Yes the File.io was indeed shut down on October 8. The Mintemail seems working, not sure if the actual disposable accounts are functional though.

  10. Sebastian
    February 2, 2009 at 6:54 am

    dl.free.fr/

    A great service offered by the French ISP "Free". Unlimited uploads, up to 1GB in filesize when using the web interface, 10GB if using the FTP access. The files are removed from the server after 30 days WITHOUT download. So if it is downloaded once a month at least, it will never be removed (a cron task would take care of that).

    It also has the option to send the URL to a few email adresses, or to password protect the file.

  11. TC
    January 8, 2009 at 5:45 am

    To be honest with you all, I crated a Yahoo account to use just for receiving junk mail and spam. Just create an account using an ID that you can remember. Anytime you have to give an email address for such a site, use it.
    It has saved me a ton of time and kept my regular email address junk / spam free. Well, as much as you can in this day and age...

  12. Robert Morrison
    January 6, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    For website owners, chatmaker.net, talkinator.com/ and mibbit.com provide registration-less instant chat rooms that you can embed in your website.

  13. Greg
    January 1, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Update-
    Numbr.com or Inumbr is in the midst of changing their free phone number offering. I suspect when it relaunches it will no longer be free or as unfettered as it was.
    Yet another business model that couldn't get traction
    Greg

  14. jamy015
    December 13, 2008 at 8:36 am

    Disposable email: if you must give your email give something@temporaryinbox.com (at the something type your own text) and go to temporaryinbox.com and type your 'something' in the box and voila! Disposable email!

  15. Music
    December 13, 2008 at 12:07 am

    great info

  16. Brian
    August 25, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    I am in love with BugMeNot, I have the Firefox extension for it :)

  17. Wones
    August 12, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    Guys: Try PeopleSearches.com - Kool Stuff too

    PeopleSearches.com

  18. Daniel
    July 9, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    What about a disposable email service that creates new domains just like the 2prong creator says it does?

  19. winger
    June 12, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    Ever heard of litedrop?? No signup, rss feeds, easy access, very nice clean and fast!

    http://www.litedrop.com

    Anyway I just use this if some website want me to register just to get information from their website lol, that just stupid :P

  20. M. Jones
    May 6, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    Great Website for Identity Theft Information and Resources:

    IDTheftDefense.com

  21. J
    April 19, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    You can create free disposable addresses with Yahoo.

  22. silentcalls
    January 25, 2008 at 10:02 am

    Free disposable UK phone numbers at datingnumbers.com

    • silentcalls
      January 25, 2008 at 10:04 am

      Sorry, URL should be datingnumbers.com/call.html

  23. Brian
    January 1, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    Spamify.com generates a disposable email address for you as well, it lasts 15 minutes, and you can also respond to messages sent to the disposable email address. If 15 minutes isn't enough time, you can click a button and get another 15 minutes. :)

  24. r
    December 31, 2007 at 6:41 pm

    I use

    10minutemail.com

    instead of the one listed here, and quite like it.

  25. BatmanLevi
    December 31, 2007 at 2:08 am

    This really has nothing to do with the topic, but http://esnailer.com/ lets you mail some online. It's totally free too! Great post by the way.

  26. DrkShadow
    December 30, 2007 at 9:08 pm

    I can't believe I haven't seen Spamgourmet(.com) mentioned. Your e-mail is permanently (unless you change it) associated with a spamgourmet login, and you append a prefix to your login@spamgourmet.com to have all e-mails sent to that prefix forwarded to your e-mail address. The beauty comes in the prefix -- you can specify a certain number of messages forwarded before the prefix becomes inactive, or you can associate it to forward e-mail from only one address. All of this is done in the e-mail address itself, so you don't need to go and create an address.

  27. VictorSinclair
    December 30, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    Spamgourmet.com

    I've use them for the last 3 yrs and its so easy. I must have about 200 addresses. Instantly come up with email address, since emails addressing goes "anything you want"."# of emails you want to get"."user id"@spamgourmet.com. So just to keep track of how well certain site keep your email private, I put the website's name into the address I creat.

    • Aibek
      January 1, 2008 at 11:02 am

      I have wrote about spamgourmet earlier. It's a pretty extensive disposable email service. Also probably with the highest number of features. The only drawback, it's not as simple as other ones and takes a while to get used to.

  28. Thorsten Holzman
    December 30, 2007 at 3:24 pm

    10minutemail.com is a throwaway email generator. You can extend the time if need be -- I don't know if this is indefinite as I've never needed to do so more than once.

  29. Derrick
    December 30, 2007 at 5:00 am

    I use http://www.spaml.com for all my disposable email needs. It automatically checks new mail for you.

    • anonymous
      May 24, 2015 at 6:05 am

      Site don't work anymore

  30. tk2
    December 30, 2007 at 4:52 am

    I would recommend dodgeit.com for fake emails.

  31. blake
    December 30, 2007 at 3:09 am

    Disposable Email - Account disappears as soon as the browser closes.
    http://2prong.com

  32. craig campbell
    December 30, 2007 at 2:41 am

    We sometimes use disposable video rooms at mebeam

  33. amby
    December 30, 2007 at 2:24 am

    I've used GishPuppy for a while now. Full online management and a firefox extension so I don't have to leave the page I'm filling in.

    • Aibek
      January 1, 2008 at 10:51 am

      Actually, if you use Mintemail you don't have to leave the page either. Basically, you can use any random email ID during some sign-up and it will be automatically generated upon first incoming email. And if there is a confirmation link in the message, it will be automatically confirmed as well.

  34. Tom
    December 30, 2007 at 2:01 am

    Check out 10-Minute Mail.com
    Works like a charm!

  35. Jacob
    December 29, 2007 at 10:48 pm

    @Matt: I didn't know there were any cheap places that verify addresses.. Do you know of a cheap/free one?

  36. Matt
    December 29, 2007 at 10:00 pm

    I've used all of these before, but the disposable phone number surprised me. As for the identity generator, you're better off randomly searching the yellow pages. It’s pretty easy to verify addresses now.

    • Aibek
      January 1, 2008 at 10:46 am

      "It’s pretty easy to verify addresses now."

      Are there any free ones? Can you post couple of links.
      Thanks.

  37. Donald Hines
    December 29, 2007 at 9:53 pm

    I use http://www.sneakemail.com/ for disposable email addresses. It works fantastically well.

  38. peter guszti
    December 29, 2007 at 9:33 pm

    Great article, I posted something before but it wasnt up. dugg. I also posted it on , opentopix dot com

  39. dkong
    December 29, 2007 at 9:10 pm

    FYI- Bugmenot tends to not work....

  40. draeath
    December 29, 2007 at 8:06 pm

    URL for file-io is bad.

    Correct URL is:
    http://file.io

    Yes, the www does actually mean something.

    • Aibek
      January 1, 2008 at 10:37 am

      Thanks, it's fixed now.

      • MikeVertx
        January 16, 2010 at 10:34 am

        health insurance?

        http://file.io = currently down

        drop.io maybe is what was meant

  41. Jeff B
    December 29, 2007 at 8:02 pm

    I have been using http://www.grandcentral.com by google.

    • Aibek
      January 1, 2008 at 10:36 am

      Yep, GrandCentral is pretty good too, the only problem it's still in closed beta.

  42. vanesa
    December 29, 2007 at 7:52 pm

    mailinator.com......for email

  43. Mark
    December 29, 2007 at 7:51 pm

    MintEmail is actually based on the code I wrote and open sourced for 2Prong.com. I'd also point out that 2Prong has a new domain every few weeks to avoid Mailinator style domain bans.

    Just wanted to point that out. Great tips on the Numbr thing, thanks.

  44. Jake
    December 29, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    I just tried Mintemail. The site says “MintEmail.com gives you a four hour temporary email address.” I use mailinator.com for junk sites. Mailinator only holds your messages for 15 muinutes and if you have an unusual name there it is likely no one would read it. But for those pesky registration sites it is great.

  45. tom
    December 29, 2007 at 6:55 pm

    disposable, shareable notes : http://cl1p.net/

    • Aibek
      January 1, 2008 at 10:29 am

      Thanks

  46. Evan Walsh
    December 29, 2007 at 8:04 pm

    WH4F has disposable email accounts as well

  47. KK
    December 29, 2007 at 9:30 am

    Nice little collection. What are the privacy policies at online file storage places?

    I also use gmail for this stuff-- just generate a new account with usual.name.thisjunkysite@gmail.com. Then I can track and see how sleazy the site really is. And nothing goes away, so I can find it later, if need be.

  48. John
    December 29, 2007 at 8:31 am

    I've used spammotel.com for several years which gives permanent, long-term email storage. Also, trashmail.net for temp email accounts.

  49. gudang
    December 29, 2007 at 3:06 am

    awesome post!! really important.. ill save it to my bookmar.
    thank you..

  50. Liz Stevens
    December 28, 2007 at 11:32 pm

    Another good disposable service is http://www.drop.io – drop.io lets you create drops which are disposable web addresses that you can store files, notes, whatever on at http://www.drop.io/disposablespace - all the media gets converted to be web friendly. But the service also automatically gives you an email address at disposablespace@drop.io – this is really useful simple way to be able to receive emails and store whatever you want online without any registration... i have used it several times and really like it.