Phone scams are never-ending because they work. Scam texts are increasing too. Here are five sure signs a text is junk you need to delete.
While we’re talking scams, I’d be remiss not to mention your inbox. Tap or click for convincing spam that landed in my email with not-so-obvious red flags.
One way to cut down on the endless attempts to steal your money and info for sale to marketers is to limit who has your contact information. Here are some simple, free ways to do it:
Hide your email address with a burner
Think about all the reasons you give away your email without thinking about it: Signing up for a new account, emailing a company with a question, or getting a coupon code – to name a few.
Whenever you give out your email address, you open yourself to junk mail, malware, and an inbox full of spam messages. This is where a burner email comes in handy.
Burner email addresses are disposable and can be used in place of your primary ones. There are several ways to get one.
• Temp Mail provides a temporary, anonymous, and disposable email address. You don’t need to register for the free version. Remember that the service doesn’t automatically delete your temporary email address (that’s up to you), and you can’t send emails. Emails are stored for about two hours before they’re automatically deleted.
• 10MinuteMail is another popular option you can also use to send emails. As the name suggests, the email and address are deleted in 10 minutes. If you receive an important message you don’t want to lose, you can forward it to another email address. There’s no need to provide personal information to get started, which is a nice bonus.
If you’re an Apple iCloud+ subscriber, you get access to one of my favorite Apple features: Hide My Email. It creates unique, random email addresses that forward to your inbox. You can create as many addresses as you want and reply to messages.
• To create a new email address, go to Settings and tap your Apple ID.
• Go to iCloud > Hide My Email > Create New Address.
• Follow the onscreen instructions, and you’ll get a new email address you can manage from iCloud settings.
Gmail also allows you to create free aliases tied to your primary inbox. They are handy for filtering mail or seeing how your email address ended up on a spam list.
Set up a burner phone number too
You need your real phone number for things that matter, such as your medical and financial accounts and records. Otherwise, there’s no reason to hand it out.
Google Voice is a free service that gives you a phone number to use however you like for domestic and international phone calls, texts, and voicemails. Google Voice is available for iOS, Android, and your computer. All you need is a Google account to get started.
Then follow these steps:
• Next, sign into your Google account.
• Review the terms and proceed to the next step.
• Choose a phone number from the list. You can search by city or area code.
• Verify the number and enter a phone number to link to your Voice account.
• You’ll get a six-digit code to enter for the next step.
Use your Google Voice number however you please, especially when you need to add your number to a form online. Tap or click here for five smart ways to use Google Voice.
Another option is downloading a burner app. These give you a second phone number and use your internet data or Wi-Fi to make and receive calls and texts. The catch? These cost money.
Burner is one of the most popular apps of its kind. You can route calls directly to your secondary number. The app comes with a seven-day free trial, and plans start at $4.99 per month for one line or $47.99 for one year.
Hushed lets you create numbers from around the world, so you can go outside your area code or the U.S. if you’d like. A prepaid plan starts at $1.99 for seven days and comes with bundled minutes for local calls and texts. You can step up to unlimited talk and text ($3.99 per month) and international service ($4.99 per month).
Tech smarts: Your old phone numbers can be used to steal your identity. Yikes. Here’s how and what to do about it.
Keep your tech-know going
Try my popular podcast called “Kim Komando Today.” It’s a solid 30 minutes of tech news, tips, and callers with tech questions like you from all over the country. Search for it wherever you get your podcasts. For your convenience, hit the link below for a recent episode.
Think before you flush. Your poop could be worth big money. (Yes, really.) Plus, Netflix wants you to stop sharing your account, Amazon Music offers Prime members expanded ad-free listening and why Uber is bombarding you with ads. Also, free alternatives to Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, or Illustrator work just as well.
Learn about all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.
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