Disposable EmailThought You Had a Customer’s Contact Information? Surprise — You Don’t!

September 25, 2023 | 11 min read

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Disposable Email Address

In a Nutshell

Consumers love them. Merchants… not so much. So, what is a disposable email address, and why would you need one? In this post we look at what DEAs are, why they even exist, and how their use impacts merchants. We’ll even cover strategies merchants can use to protect themselves against potential abuse involving disposable emails.

How Disposable Email Addresses Can Disrupt Merchant Marketing Efforts & Facilitate Fraud

Everybody wants your email address these days. That’s not surprising; email is a useful and highly effective advertising method. It plays a key role in both traditional and online marketing strategies.

Building an accurate list of addresses is an important part of connecting with customers. So, it can be extremely frustrating to merchants when addresses turn out to be fake.

Disposable email addresses (DEAs) are gaining popularity among consumers who are concerned about privacy and data security. As we’ll see, though, they can really sap the effectiveness of merchants’ marketing efforts.

What Is a Disposable Email Address?

Disposable Email Address

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Disposable email addresses (DEAs) are temporary, throw-away email addresses. They are tied to nonexistent inboxes, and are deleted after a set amount of time.

The basic idea behind a disposable email is to have a valid email address, while avoiding sharing a primary address. There are two main reasons someone might want this: security and privacy.

Most websites these days ask for an email address at some point in the user experience. Businesses may offer a newsletter, or insist on capturing an email address to make a purchase or access additional information. In many cases, the user then starts receiving many more emails than they initially expected.

Rather than deal with that, many individuals use a disposable email service that allows them to sign up for a temporary, anonymous address. The concept behind a disposable email is fairly straightforward. The user’s permanent email address gets substituted for a temporary email address that is not actually tied to an inbox.

The address will expire after a set amount of time, or it can be canceled by the user when no longer needed. Unwanted emails are never received. Even better, personal data isn’t being stored in a potentially less-than-secure location.

How Do Disposable Email Addresses Work?

A disposable email address is perfectly legal and valid. They can be used to sign up for services and promotions while hiding the user’s true identity. Once the user no longer has need of the address it can be completely destroyed.

DEAs can be obtained in one of two ways. First, one can use a temporary email service. There are countless clients that provide this service, including:

Disposable Email

Temp Mail

Disposable Email

Burner Mail

Disposable Email

10-Minute Mail

Those are just a few examples of this kind of service provider. However, some of the leading webmail providers like Gmail provide temp addresses, too, as do software clients like MS Outlook.

The creation method you use can depend on the type of address you need:

Alias Accounts

These will look much like a user’s main email address. Email service providers (ESPs) like Gmail or Outlook often allow account holders to create an additional alias address. Mail sent to that account ends up in a separate folder instead of the user’s main inbox. 

Forwarding Accounts 

These are created using a domain that’s totally different from the user’s primary inbox. All messages go to the forwarding account first, are then rerouted to the user’s primary inbox, where they can be accessed normally.

Burner Accounts 

These are non-forwarding addresses which in most cases are canceled immediately after use. Much like a burner cell phone, burner email addresses allow users to communicate a message while remaining anonymous. 
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Temp emails work much like regular email addresses. However, there are two exceptions: they aren’t used indefinitely, and getting one doesn’t usually require the user to share their name or any other personal information.

Why Do People Use Disposable Emails?

In simple terms, people often use disposable email addresses because they don’t want to engage with a business on an ongoing basis. Under that broad umbrella, however, there are multiple specific situations where a DEA could be to the user’s benefit:


All databases can potentially be breached, even those of global companies dedicating entire divisions to data security. Using a temp address is more secure because none of the user’s true information is stored permanently on a server.

Temporary Access

A user may want temporary access to some online portal or content. The user can enter a disposable email address, and once they’ve obtained what they’re after, cancel the temp address to avoid spam and sales emails.


Many businesses offer gated content like free downloads or access to certain premium content, and require an email input to access it for later marketing purposes. A disposable email enables the user to open an account, enter a contest, or score discounts or freebies while remaining anonymous.

Online Anonymity

With an alias account, users can join social media networks, leave blog comments, or post online reviews without compromising their identity. Keep this in mind; it’ll be relevant in the next section.

Disposable Emails & Fraud

For the most part, temporary emails are safe. There are legitimate reasons to use DEAs, as we outlined above. However, there are also illicit and illegal uses for disposable email addresses, too.

Consumers aren’t the only ones who want to remain anonymous. When committing online fraud, scammers want to get as much as they can from each attempt, and disposable emails help them maximize their efforts. Fraudsters regularly use disposable email addresses to create fake accounts, then make fraudulent purchases that can’t be traced back to them.

Consider this example: a crook opens navigates to your store. Rather than register a real email address at checkout, the scammer uses a DEA. The address registers as valid, so your fraud detection tools don’t register it as suspicious. The fraudster can then complete their purchase and disappear, leaving you no way to track them down.

That’s bad enough on its own. However, some audacious scammers engage in “double dipping;” when their order arrives, the fraudster requests a refund, but doesn’t actually return the item. They get the merchandise and the cash. The address is then canceled, and any contact attempts result in a bounced email.

Other Problems Resulting From Disposable Email Use

Disposable email addresses can still be troublesome for merchants, even when they’re not used for the purpose of committing fraud.

It’s a feedback loop; as people use temp emails more often and begin to feel more secure with them, the more they’ll be used. That can lead to a host of potential issues for businesses who use email as a primary marketing tool.

Skewed Data Analytics

The more deactivated disposable emails in your mailing list, the less you can trust your analytics. That means you could have skewed reports on everything from open and click-through rates for marketing emails to customer churn statistics. You’ll also have an inflated list count, meaning you’re actually reaching far fewer people than it appears at first glance.

Lower Sender Score

Temp addresses on your email list will automatically result in a bounced email, thereby increasing your bounce rate. That can make your business look sketchy, driving up your Sender Score and increasing the risk that your emails will be mislabeled as spam. If your email marketing platform sees a high number of bounced mails, they could blacklist your business. Email clients might also do the same; it will be very bad for you if Gmail starts unilaterally marking all of your emails as spam.

Free-Service Abuse

Disposable email addresses can really hurt merchants who use free trial offers as important parts of their sales funnel. Using disposable email addresses, individuals can repeatedly sign up for services as if they were a new customer. This lets them repeatedly take advantage of samples, introductory rates, etc.

Lost conversion opportunities

Businesses invest a lot of money to attract and retain new customers. The average cost per acquisition for consumer goods was $22 in 2021. If the user signs up through a disposable email address, however, that money could be wasted, because you’ll lose a chance to convert them for subsequent purchases. All the money you spent hoping to create a long-term customer may only net you a one-time sale.

Refusing to accept disposable email domains for user signup is an option. However, you probably don’t want to go this route, as blacklisting domains associated with temporary email clients could mean rejecting sales.

Furthermore, Gmail and Outlook now offer disposable email addresses, and new services pop all the time. It’s simply not realistic to ban all these users. There are some steps merchants can take to mitigate potential damage from disposable emails, though.

How to Prevent Disposable Email Abuse

One of the most important things you can do is to keep your mailing list clean. Conduct regular audits to identify and remove bad email addresses.

This will take some effort. Some DEAs, particularly burner addresses, don’t even look like valid emails. Others are harder to spot, though. In either case, trying to control the problem manually can eat up a lot of resources. Luckily, there are APIs and list-check solutions that are specifically designed to help validate email addresses and keep mailing lists clean and accurate.

A high number of disposable addresses on your mailing list could point to other problems. It may indicate that consumers don’t really trust you with their information. They may worry that you’ll abuse it, or that you won’t keep it safe.

It’s important to create and maintain a reputation for being trustworthy and respectful of customer information. This applies particularly to attracting new customers, but includes being transparent and forthcoming after signup as well.

The best defense against fraud and abuse is a good offense. Get started today.REQUEST A DEMO

Talk clearly about how you collect, use, and protect data, explaining your intentions for email contacts, as well as your security protocols. Explain what types of emails users will receive from you, and provide options for how frequently they are sent. You need to mention if you sell your email lists, and give users the chance to opt out. In many jurisdictions, this is now required by law.

Provide a link to your privacy policy, and require that it be acknowledged at sign up. If you use extra security measures such as encryption, be sure to point that out, as well. Anything you can do to increase consumers’ confidence will make them more likely to share their real contact data.

The Bottom Line

Disposable email addresses are an increasingly popular way for users to sign up for online accounts and programs without actually exposing their information. While a useful service for consumers, DEAs can cause serious issues for merchants, including skewed marketing data and lost conversion opportunities.

Temporary addresses can also be used by cybercriminals to commit fraud. That’s why merchants should consider including email validation tools as part of their antifraud strategies, and regard them as red flags that suggest suspicious activity at checkout.

Of course, disposable email addresses are just one of many tricks that fraudsters use. That’s why merchants need to take a much wider view.

True fraud prevention and risk mitigation requires a more comprehensive approach. To learn about fraud and chargeback management help that goes beyond DEA hurdles, talk to the experts at Chargebacks911® today.


What is a temporary email?

Disposable email addresses (DEAs) are temporary, throw-away email addresses. They are tied to nonexistent inboxes, and are deleted after a set amount of time.

Why use a temporary email?

Users employ temporary email addresses to help secure their personal data, protect their privacy, and avoid spam. A temporary address allows them to sign up for offers or access online materials without releasing their permanent contact information.

Are disposable emails illegal?

Not at all. However, they can be (and often are) used for illegal activities such as committing fraud.

How do I create a dummy email?

A disposable email address can be obtained in one of two ways. The first option is through a temporary email service (Temp Mail, Burner Mail, 10-Minute Mail, etc.). However, some of the leading webmail providers like Gmail provide temp addresses, too, as do software clients like MS Outlook. The creation method you use can depend on the type of address you need (an alias, forwarding, or burner address).

Are “burner” emails safe?

Yes. In fact, since no actual personal data is being transmitted or stored, they are often considered safer than regular email addresses.

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