Not masking your email could put you at risk – here's how to fix it

An email secured with a padlock
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Gone are the days when you should be entering your real email address into a website. It's far too easy for websites to sell the information you provide to data brokers who use your email for marketing, targeted ads, and even reselling. 

Why you should mask your email

Beyond the threat of nefarious data brokers, if you've ever had the misfortune of your email address being leaked in a data breach, it's likely kept on the dark web for scammers and cybercriminals alike to target. There are countless databases where hackers store your information to use for scams and future hacking attempts.

Has your email been leaked already?

If you're not sure, head to Haveibeenpwned to see if your email has ever been leaked.

There have even been instances of government bodies buying data broker information for surveillance purposes.

An easy way to protect your details from being leaked is to not hand them out in the first place. By giving out masked emails when you sign up for services and accounts, you can simply destroy the email at the click of a button when you're done. That means scammers won't be able to target you – they'll be targeting a dead email.

Fast and easy email masking

If you want to shore up your privacy, there are two services I'd recommend above all else: NordVPN and Surfshark. You may be asking yourself "Why would I buy a VPN to mask my email?" The simple answer is that both of these services let you create and remove email masks at the touch of a button. No creating a secondary secure email, setting up redirects manually, and having to remember multiple passwords and logins – save your time and do it all in a single click.

They'll even auto-inject the fake email into your browser for you, so you don't have to remember what that new email address was. It's no surprise they're two of the best VPN services on the market.

Get NordVPNThe best VPN for most people

Get NordVPN – from $3.39 per month
The best VPN for most people
NordVPN offers simple and intuitive email masking that even integrates with its built-in password manager, NordPass. It's also our top recommendation as the best VPN for most people. Alongside easy-to-use apps, amazing content unblocking, and super-fast speeds, Nord offers fantastic value for money at $3.39 per month if you're happy to sign up for two years. With a range of additional privacy tools to bolt on, you don't need to pay more for stuff you won't use. Alternatively, you can try it out risk-free with a 30-day money-back guarantee if you're not ready to commit.

Try SurfsharkThe best cheap VPN

Try Surfshark – from $2.19 per month
The best cheap VPN
If you want to mask your email with a VPN that's as budget-friendly as it is high-quality, Surfshark is an excellent option. Plus, if you're using Surfshark in the US, you can even mask your phone number, too! It'll soon be rolling out elsewhere, so if you're in Europe, be sure to keep an eye out for it. As well as being super easy to use, Surfshark is consistently one of the fastest and best streaming VPNs we've tested over the past 12 months. Plus, Surfshark offers a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try before you buy.

The value doesn't stop there, though. Beyond masking your email, you can use these VPNs to protect your devices from hackers, stream Netflix abroad, and even block ads and malware. There are so many benefits of using a VPN!

Take advantage of the money-back guarantees to get two months of protection before you decide whether or not to commit.

Want to go a step further?

If you want to go on the privacy offensive, check out Incogni – it actively removes your information from data brokers and helps prevent you from being exploited by aggressive marketing and advertisers. I've been using it for a year now and I get way less spam and targeted ads.

You can even get Incogni included in the cost of your Surfshark subscription, cutting the cost massively compared to buying each tool separately.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you keep your email address private and you won't have to deal with unnecessary spam.

Andreas Theodorou
Editor-in-Chief of Tech Software

Andreas has been with TechRadar as Future PLC's Editor-in-Chief of Tech Software since March 2023, supporting content and teams on VPNs, antivirus, and other cybersecurity tools. He's previously written for and led content at ProPrivacy, Business2Community, and The Tech Report. After completing a Master of Research degree, Andreas fell in love with all things cybersecurity; combining his passions to help expose the prevalence of ad tech in the charity sector and raise awareness of digital privacy around the world.