I am a marketer and I have a few confessions to make. I click on all sorts of things I shouldn’t online. I request catalogs I might only read once. I subscribe to emails just to see who’s buying ads in them. And I sign up to beta test sites that I may only ever log into once. For me, it’s all part of the research that I do to keep up to date on the state of online marketing and what companies and brands are doing. I do it to make me smarter and better at my job.
As a result, I have many ways that I actively invite spam (but I still do want to get some of this content and can’t help signing up for it). For any of us, this is “content spam” – content that you actually want to interact with, but will be paying for by receiving lots of spam afterwards. For this type of spam, we can’t just rely on spam filters or having a separate email address to sign up for all these services, or using a PO Box or work address for some of the marketing lists you sign up for. Here are a few of the advanced ways to fight content spam, while still getting the content that you want:
- Disposible Email – Often the main reason sites ask you to provide your email address is so that they can send you some kind of confirmation email that you need in order to enter a password. Services like Mintemail allow you to create a disposible email address that expires after 8 hours … just long enough to pick up that confirmation email and use it.
- Anonymous Phone Numbers – Your phone number is likely the one piece of information you are most sensitive about giving out. After all, emails are easy to delete, but incessant phone calls can be tough to ignore. Now with services like iNumbr or TossableDigits, you can create fake phone numbers that will forward to your real number for a set amount of time.
- Virtual Credit Card Numbers – For some time now, credit card companies such as MBNA, Citibank and others have been offering the ability to generate custom virtual credit card numbers for single transactions. These are totally different from your real credit card number and are only good for a single transaction. As a result, they are great for making sure that you are not continually charged monthly subscription fees for a one time purchase.
Any other methods that have worked for you? Add them in a comment here.