Maintaining your privacy when you send email messages is largely up to you.
Your privacy can’t be violated unless you provide information that will allow someone else to send you unsolicited email,
to make unsolicited telephone calls to you, or to collect other valuable information about you.
The following advice will go a long way toward keeping your privacy secure.
- Remember that email is a relatively insecure message system
When you send a standard email message, many other people besides the recipient may be able to look at the contents. The typical email has to travel through several computer systems before it reaches its destination. The level of privacy you have will depend on the policies or regulations governing the owners of all of those computer systems.
- Keep personal information in an email to a minimum
Whenever you send an email, the recipient should be able to see your address in the “From” field in the email. Include other information such as an address or phone number only if it is necessary.This advice goes for the information in the body of the email and for any attachments to that email.
- Send unsolicited mail to individuals only if necessary
Whenever you send an unsolicited email to someone, you run the risk that the person may pass on your email address and any other information to other people. That recipient may also see that initial email from you as an invitation to send all manner of unsolicited email in return.
You can review the page on unsolicited and unwanted email for more advice on the subject.
- Do not send key personal information by email
Some key pieces of information such as Social Security Numbers, bank account numbers, ATM passwords, and credit card numbers, should only be sent through some kind of encrypted email or through more traditional and relatively secure methods such as fax, phone, and surface mail.
- Never send personal information based on an unsolicited email
If you should ever receive an unsolicited email asking for identifying information like your address or phone number or financial information such as your Social Security Number, bank account information, ATM passwords, or credit card numbers, do not even respond to
this email unless you are certain that the email is legitimate. It is very unlikely that banks, government offices, legitimate businesses, and other organizations that may need your personal information would send an email asking you to submit this information by a return email. If you do get an email like this, contact that organization to confirm whether the email request was valid.
- Respect the privacy of email addresses
When sending emails to multiple recipients who are unfamiliar to one another, avoid putting the email address in the To or Cc fields. If you put the addresses in the Bcc field, the recipients will know that the email came from you, but they will not know who else may have received the email.
You can review the page on email style and grammar for more information on the various email address fields
Also, when you forward an email, either delete all of the addresses in the original email’s From, To, and Cc, fields, or make that forwarding the email along with those addresses will not compromise the sender’s privacy.
- Do not forward email without permission
Unless the sender has given explicit permission to forward an email, ask the sender before forwarding all or part of an email.
Online, any written document, including an email, is copyright protected. In practical terms, it means that you can’t forward the email content without permission.
- Keep separate business and personal email accounts
Avoid using business accounts for personal email and vice versa. Free Web based email accounts are very easy to start and are useful for sending and receiving email when you are at work or away from your main account. By using separate accounts for business cards and personal email, you can keep your personal affairs separate from your business affairs.
- Use a backup email account to avoid excessive unsolicited mail
Any time that you send an email to an organization or individual that you do not know, you run the risk of having your email address becoming the target of unsolicited and unwanted email. By using a backup account, especially a free Web-based account, you can keep unsolicited mail from clogging up your personal email account. Should the backup account become overwhelmed, simply open another backup account.
Download a copy of
Parenting and the Internet for advice on how to manage your email accounts.
http://speedbrake.com/privacy/privmail.htm — Revised: 25 February 2010