You’ll think twice about handing off your email address and start guarding it as fiercely as your passwords when you know the lurking dangers. How many online accounts can you create without an email address?
The answer is about nil.
From your banking accounts to your social media and dating sites to that cheese of the month box, your email address sure does get around.
And chances are, you’re probably juggling multiple email accounts for work, personal use, and maybe even your side hustle.
But take a quick scan of any of your inboxes and you’ll find information you wouldn’t want to make public online. From contracts, leases, password reset forms, and medical or financial information, the list is endless.
So what happens if your email account gets hacked?
“Around one billion accounts and records were compromised worldwide in 2016,” according to a Forrester report. “That's roughly three for every American citizen.”
Since the odds of your accounts getting hacked aren’t in your favor, it’s time to step up your digital defenses.
Most people are more worried about protecting their passwords than their email address.
We’ve been trained to keep our passwords under secure lock and key while we post our email address all over for total strangers to find online:
We add it to website forms to get discounts, enter it for exclusive content, and post it on our social media profiles for a quick way to stay in touch.
This may have been safe back in 1999, but hackers have wised up now.
Once you know what a hacker can do just by getting into your email account, you’ll probably never want to share your email again.
So stop giving websites your email address because:
What would a hacker know about your life just by checking the senders in your inbox?
Would they know which bank you use? Which health insurance company you pay? What about your online shopping habits?
Give this information to a fraudster and you may as well give them a roadmap to all your accounts ripe for hacking.
Sites that use your email address as your login username are even worse. When a hacker notices this, they’re already halfway through cracking your account.
Hackers sell your stolen data on the dark web for all its worth or keep it for their personal use.
They can search recent data breaches for your email address and try the passwords listed for your exposed accounts.
And if you’re also storing sensitive information like your credit card numbers on these sites, you’re in for an even bigger world of pain.
While movies and TV hackers drain bank accounts and book trips to Vegas, real-life hackers aren’t always so bold. They make small moves to benefit themselves without being detected — for as long as they can.
Storing your credit card information on retail sites like Amazon or Apple slashes your transaction time, but it also means it won’t take long for a hacker to abuse your accounts.
A hacker may order a bunch of items from their Amazon wishlist with your account, use your stored payment method to pay for it, and ship it to an Amazon locker or other non-identifying location to get what they want.
This could be a one-time thing or it could last months if you’re not immediately locked out of your account or alerted by a low-credit limit.
We’ve all been there. You get a website notification and then you can’t remember your password to login to said website to read said notification.
You hit the Forgot your password? link and then wait for the instructions to make their way to your email account.
Don’t think a hacker can do the same once they’re inside your inbox?
When a hacker sees where your emails are coming from, they could change all your passwords and lock you out of the accounts they like.
Here’s an example:
A hacker gets into an email account tied to the Uber app. They change the password via password reset email and log into the app on their phone.
They use the hacked account to make a minimum fare trip, let’s say something like an $8 ride.
After the trip, the hacker deletes the email receipt before the real account holder sees it (or reroutes it to a different email address entirely).
The real account user is charged for the ride and either doesn’t notice the small charge on their credit card statement or calls Uber to dispute it if they do.
Either way, the hacker got a free ride.
And don’t underestimate the damage a hacker could cause to your social media sites. They could post offensive content under your handle, get you banned, or delete your accounts altogether.
Good luck rebuilding all the years of your social media history.
Though it’s probably best those location-tagged selfies were deleted anyway.
Travel itineraries translate to big dollars for dark web scammers.
Your email account holds plane tickets and various travel reservations for the dates you’ll be out of your house. A hacker can grab your address and post this information online for burglars in the area.
In darker circles, this information could be used to extort friends or family members — especially if you’re traveling abroad. All it takes is one criminal to contact your loved ones and tell them you’re in trouble (i.e., you’ve been in an accident, you’ve committed a crime) and need money.
Your caring friend or relative will immediately wire over the money directly to the thieves’ bank account.
That’s just one way you’re putting your loved ones at risk by not securing your email address.
Live email addresses are worth tons to spammers, phishers, and other nefarious email fraudsters. Hackers scan your contacts to find the names, phone numbers, and even physical addresses of all your email acquaintances to sell on the dark web.
Plus, think about all the social media updates that go directly to your inbox. Now a hacker also knows what’s going in the lives of your inner circle too.
Did you e-file your taxes this year? Send your tax information back-and-forth with your accountant? Have your apartment lease or new employer contract emailed to you?
While super convenient, emailing these forms and contracts is super dangerous.
Every page of these documents is typically bursting with confidential information to make any hacker salivate: your name, address, social security number, employer information, routing numbers, etc.
This is the very makeup of who you are. When someone knows this information — simply from reading your emails — you’re a prime candidate for identity theft.
Everything from your usernames and passwords to your security questions leaves hints about who you are behind.
Besides knowing your name, email address, mobile phone number, etc., a hacker can steal information like your mother’s maiden name or your alma mater to fill out all sorts of loan and credit card applications for themselves.
Just from using the information in your email inbox.
Still think you’re doing enough to protect your accounts?
It’s not all doom and gloom. You can take extra precautions to safeguard your email accounts, such as:
The first step to wreaking havoc on your digital life is actually getting into your email account in the first place. So stop making it so easy for hackers to crack your passwords already!
You know “password123” or your cat’s name don’t qualify as strong passwords, but you’re probably too scared to make better ones you might forget. That’s exactly why everyone needs a password manager yesterday.
This way you’ll receive a text message or notification to a different email address if something seems fishy with one of your email accounts (i.e., a password reset request, different IP login location, etc.).
You could use one email for social media sites and reserve a separate one for financial logins to give your accounts a degree of separation.
However, the question becomes How many email accounts should you really create?
If you use one for all your finances, a hacker could wipe out all your savings in one fell swoop, for instance.
So should you create a new email account for every site you want to sign up for?
That’d be ridiculous….
What if you never had to give out your personal email address ever again?
Using the Joinesty browser extension’s patent pending technology, we’ll create a unique email for every site you want to use or join.
We’ll inject that unique email address into the sign-up fields on for most sites for you. And for pages not yet supported, we’ll still provide you with a unique email address and you’ll just have to copy and paste it.
As a secure password manager, Joinesty will save your login information (i.e., your username or unique email address and password) and fill them in the next time you visit a site.
It’s similar to your browser’s autofill function, except it’s actually a secure place to store this sensitive info. That’s because Joinesty uses bank-level security to protect your data.
Unlike most websites, when we say ‘bank-level security’ we mean we literally have been tested by bank IT security teams in multi-week long deep dives. PS: We passed with flying colors.
But we know there’s more to security than just encryption.
We layer on protections so we know it’s really you accessing your accounts, such as:
Joinesty is the only secure password manager that protects you through secure email address creation, safeguarding you from anyone trying to steal your credentials.
Take advantage of our unique email creation tool and you won't notice any disruption in your email service. We’ll forward any emails you receive directly to your inbox.
Everything works the way you’d expect; the only difference is your newfound peace of mind. The next time you hear of a data breach, you know the bad guys won't have your personal email address (woo!).
In the age of internet insecurity, we’re the first step in taking back control of your online life. Secure your accounts. Protect your privacy. Live better online.
Start your free 14-day trial of Joinesty and see our secure email address creation feature in action now!