Updated on: 01.02.2020
Do you need to send an email, while remaining anonymous? If so, this is the guide for you. Conventional emails are hardly anonymous. They tend to include the sender’s address, aren’t encrypted, and carry IP information as well. Anyone with half a brain can tell where they come from. But as we’ll see, all of these issues can be worked around with relative ease with the help of an untraceable email account.
What is anonymous email?
While snail mail has probably never been regarded as safe – it passes the hands of so many people who can feel the content and even open it to check what’s inside. Furthermore, it can get lost or stolen at one of the stops towards its final destination. Therefore, some of us tend to think the opposite about emails sent from our digital accounts, because they have passwords, are lighting-fast, and nobody can or should be able to read what’s inside other than you and the recipient. Unfortunately, that’s often not the case. With huge data breaches and leaks happening all the time, and the popular passwords that users choose, regular email accounts turn out to be not that hard to crack, even without a Computer Science degree.
And not being safe usually means not being anonymous. In this case, sending a snail mail without a return address gives you some advantage, especially if you write with letters cut out from a magazine like in those crime movies.
But what about email? Even if you create a mailbox [email protected], you will be prompted to provide a backup account or even a phone number. Even if you don’t do that, your IP address can be easily seen by the ISP (Internet Service Provider), the email provider, and even by the recipient because the connection is unencrypted. So while they may not know your real name, they already know where you live.
Is there such a thing as anonymous emailing?
And if so, what is anonymous email? Well, it has two defining features. First, with a really untraceable email account, no one can trace you back, and the second – anonymous email doesn’t contain any personal information. While most of us are perfectly fine with our name and last name Gmails, journalists writing about sensitive topics or whistleblowers (think Edward Snowden) are in big danger without untraceable email.
Most of us can achieve the desired level of anonymity by not including any real information about ourselves when creating a regular email and using a proxy or a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to encrypt your traffic. But if you need maximum security, consider getting an untraceable email account.
How anonymous email works
In general, anonymous email works the same way as the regular one does. Only here you use fake information when creating your account. But while some providers like Gmail might ask for a phone number to verify the account, you can still use a disposable one instead of your real one. If you’re fine with this level of anonymity, you can skip reading the rest of the article. Just be aware that your ISP and email provider can see your true IP address and find your location based on it.
But if you want to have the highest level of anonymity, you should get an untraceable email account instead of a regular email service. One of the key things anonymous email does is encrypting your connection. It allows protecting both your mail content and your privacy by hiding the IP address.
What’s more, with anonymous email service, your password is also being protected from snoopers, meaning nobody’s going to log in to your untraceable email account unless you’ve decided to use that “12345678” password again. Finally, you can cover the footsteps of your activity by setting up an auto-destruct feature for such a mailbox. That said, it’s probably never going to be possible to delete your Hotmail or Gmail account data completely.
What’s the difference between anonymous email account and regular email account?
The main difference between the regular and the anonymous email account is, well, one being anonymous and the other – not so much. This means that in certain cases your regular Gmail might do better than any anonymous email, so you shouldn’t delete it even if your main goal is maximum privacy.
These cases include communicating in a business (and similar) setting. Not even an IT company will be impressed if you send your CV from some weird anonymous email address. Also, reaching out to a potential business partner with an email [email protected] can be compared to shooting oneself in the leg while stepping on a snake. What’s more, regular emails are just easier to set up and more user-friendly. If you have to write at least a few emails per day, you’ll soon know the difference.
Last but not least, anonymous email accounts can’t be used to login to other services. If you’re not the privacy buff who uses a password manager, you probably have some websites or apps to which you log in with your Gmail credentials. While it’s not the safest option, it certainly is a convenient one, especially when you don’t need to type your unique login info on your phone in the middle of the street while rushing to a meeting with that Cinnamon Shortbread Latte in one hand.
As you can see, keeping your regular email is probably a good idea. But here’s why having an anonymous email account would be beneficial. For starters, it allows you to communicate an important message without compromising your identity. While the recipient might suspect who could’ve written the message, at least there’s no proof that you’re the one who did it. This also includes the situations when you want to inform the authorities about some issue without the risk of your private info ending up in the wrong hands that are ready to choke you.
This is even better than an anonymous phone call where your voice can be recognized, and the list of possible suspects is cut in half by determining your sex. Finally, it’s easier to hide from spammers when using an untraceable email account. Even if they manage to squeeze a click or two out of you, they won’t be getting your personal information from that, making it hard to target the next attack.
Comparison of regular email and anonymous email accounts
|Regular email account||Anonymous email account|
|Setup||Easy||Takes some time|
|User interface||Easy to use||Takes time to get used to|
|Credibility||High (if the user’s real name’s used)||Low|
|Login to other services||Easy||N/A|
|Spam protection||Medium (filtered)||High|
|Location||USA (Google)||Various, incl. Switzerland|
|Mailbox storage||15 GB (Google)||1-100 GB|
|Attachment limit||25 MB (Google)||25-50 MB|
|Security features||Basic password sign-in method|
Transport Layer Security (TLS)
|Two-factor authentication sign-in process|
End-to-end encryption to ensure complete privacy
As you can see from the table, both regular email and anonymous email accounts have their pros and cos. In the case of the latter, it also depends on the actual service and the pricing plan chosen. That’s why we recommend using both, even though it would be easier to not bother and use only one mailbox for all purposes.
Why would you need to send an anonymous email?
Anonymous emails are often associated with dubious activities such as spoofing or phishing, and there’s no doubt that cybercriminals create anonymous email messages in vast quantities. But there are some legitimate reasons for ordinary people to learn how to send an anonymous email.
For instance, you might want to organize a surprise birthday gift for a friend or relative. To persuade them to attend your mystery event, you might send them an anonymous email, pretending to be someone completely different.
And in the world of business, protecting data and contacts is critical. By using anonymous email accounts, highly sensitive communications can be kept confidential, allowing staff the freedom to express their opinions without worrying about the consequences.
Then there are situations where one side of a conversation desires privacy. For instance, journalists may be asked by sources to enable them to conceal their identities. In that case, an anonymous email address could be a huge help.
Finally, in a world where states seem to be engaged in the never-ending power grab to control greater surveillance resources, learning how to send anonymous emails is simply good practice. In the future, it could be the difference between evading the gaze of hostile law enforcement agencies and retaining your liberty.
To sum up, the instances when you need to send an anonymous email are as follows:
- Communicating with your friends secretly when preparing a surprise
- Expressing an opinion about the employer without revealing your identity
- Contacting a journalist while saving your privacy
- Wanting to avoid an information leak in a political setting
So there are many sound justifications for deciding to create anonymous email accounts. Let’s see how it’s done and how much it costs.
How much does it cost to send an anonymous email?
The prices depend on the quality of the untraceable email service, naturally. A free anonymous email account is usually not a good long-term option due to the lack of storage size. On the other hand, free regular email services show you ads, and you won’t see them when using a paid untraceable email account. Therefore it’s up to you to decide which price is steeper – those few bucks per month or your anonymity.
If you’re planning to send just an occasional complaint about a broken coffee machine to your boss or curse the mayor about the lack of downtown parking spots, you might do with a free anonymous email account. The main disadvantage of free untraceable email is the limited storage and the small number of emails you can send.
The good news is that most anonymous email providers offer a free service for you to try before committing to a paid version. Their prices range from $1 to $30 per month and up. The average monthly price stays between $4 and $5 depending on the anonymous email services and their plans you take for comparison.
You can always save on your anonymous email subscription by taking a yearly plan. For example, taking HushMail for twelve months cost $49.98, saving you almost $22. Though to be honest, quite a few untraceable email services give no discounts for long-term users, meaning that the only thing you’re saving with a yearly plan is the hassle of paying it monthly.
The four main benefits you’ll be paying for when taking a premium anonymous email plan is the extra storage, an increase of the sending limit, customer support, and improved security. Even if you don’t want to play around with the free version, you can try most paid services knowing there’s a money-back guarantee.
Ways to anonymize your email accounts: what (not) to do
Before discussing effective ways to remain anonymous when you send emails, it’s essential to note a few popular strategies that don’t work – even though they may seem to on the surface.
For instance, when they want to hide their identity, many people simply decide to create email accounts under a different name. This creates a fake persona for sending messages to friends and usually works for that purpose, but it doesn’t deliver proper anonymity.
For starters, most regular email accounts require users to enter some form of genuine authentication such as their phone number. And when you’re active on the account, these services probably won’t use encryption.
This means that your IP address is constantly exposed. And this information can be linked pretty easily to your actual location and identity – defeating the purpose of creating a fake account.
So if you want an untraceable email account, we advise that you think a little beyond simply adding another Gmail address. There are more effective tactics than that, and they aren’t very hard to implement.
1. Add a VPN to your fake email account
The first way is straightforward and pretty effective. By adding a VPN to a fake email account, you can add your own layer of encryption. Moreover, the VPN will scramble your IP address, making it difficult for snoopers to identify who you are.
A VPN is especially essential if you intend to use familiar mass-market email accounts like Yahoo or Gmail. These services log your IP address every time you send a message (and will be happy to hand it over to the government with a legitimate subpoena).
VPNs work around this issue, ensuring that the email provider has no access to your account. So whatever you send will leave very few traces of your real-world identity.
If you choose to take this route, make sure that your VPN is running before you access your email account. And carry out IP leak tests periodically to ensure that your identity isn’t being exposed.
There are many different VPN services to choose from. There are some good free VPNs available, but for the purpose of having an untraceable email account, we’d recommend using top quality paid VPN services. While our overall #1 is ExpressVPN because of its speed, the runner-up NordVPN is the most secure VPN option you can get, making it an ideal choice for those in need of email and overall anonymity.
2. Use a remailer
Remailers are specialist tools which take emails and redirect them anonymously to third-party addresses. As a result, the recipient should have no idea who sent the original message.
The onward mailing part of using remailers like Rapid Remailer, AnonEmail, or Paranoia is pretty reliable and very hard to crack. But there is one potential weakness in using this strategy.
The remailer itself generally knows the origin of every email that passes through its servers, so users have to trust their privacy policies and corporate integrity. And as our extensive experience of cybersecurity has taught us, you can’t take either of those things for granted.
Because of this, if you choose to send an untraceable email via a remailer, it makes sense to have a VPN running in the background. That way, the remailer can’t tell where the message came from, ensuring a much higher degree of anonymity.
3. Choose an anonymous email provider
Both of the methods above allow you to send emails without alerting the recipient to your real identity. But there’s another element to the question of how to send an anonymous email that they don’t take into account so well: security.
The only way to ensure that the content of your emails remained anonymous and protected from state surveillance or cybercriminals is to use an encrypted email account.
Not all email providers operate this kind of service (and mainstream companies like Gmail definitely don’t), so you’ll need to look for a specialist secure email provider. Fortunately, there are a few around.
For example, ProtonMail provides encrypted email accounts free of charge while also offering top-notch premium service, starting from $4.50. When you send a message via their servers, all of the data is encrypted from “end to end” remaining anonymous at every stage.
Moreover, ProtonMail doesn’t ask for personal details when you sign up, and they don’t log IPs. Add a quality VPN to the mix, and there are very few ways your identity can leak out when you use their services.
And ProtonMail isn’t the only place to set up genuinely anonymous email accounts. You can also create an anonymous email with companies like MailFence, Mailinator, and SecureEmail. So there’s plenty of choices, with the best making our Top 10 list of most secure email providers in 2020.
What about sending an anonymous email with attachment files?
If you’d like to send attachments, instead of simple text emails, there are a few things to think about before jumping in.
Firstly, not all anonymous email address providers offer huge amounts of space for users to fill with photos, Word documents, or spreadsheets. So pick a company which gives you some capacity to play with. For example, FastMail or Zoho Mail have 100 GB plans while the maximum mailbox storage you get from Tutanota Mail is 10 GB.
Then there’s the size of the attachment itself. Gmail is limiting its attachment size to 25 MB. Some untraceable email services, such as ProtonMail or Tutanota Mail, offer the same amount, while others like FastMail or HushMail double on that. While this might seem like a big advantage, consider the fact that Gmail users will not be able to receive your leaked 50 MB .csv database of municipality clerks who’ve been late to work at least five minutes in the past five years.
More importantly, remember that sending anonymous emails with attachments means they are often immediately flagged as spam by recipients – and with good reason. So if you want your attachment opened, give a few pieces of genuine information about why the recipient should trust you.
However, the basic process for sending an anonymous email with attachment files is the same as for regular messages. And, as we’ve seen, sending anonymous emails isn’t that hard. Just remember to source a good VPN, pick your provider, and make the most of the tools at your disposal. Also, if you have any questions or remarks, do not hesitate to post them in our Comments section below!
I am a games journalist, and since the gaming industry is only just starting to bring to light the sorry state it’s in, I have used such anonymous emails to talk with sources. They often do not want their names to be revealed when talking about the poor working environments at their respective studios because they could risk losing their jobs.
Well that’s good to know ! Classic email provider like google aren’t safe at all, none of your emails are safe unless you use a really private and secure email provider like protonmail or something similar.
Several times, I have received emails that cannot be traced to a source. One was sent to every member of my organisation, guess what? It threatened our existence as an institution.
So now, I can tell the process of formulating and dispersing the mail. Next I would like to learn is to decipher the source.
Use mailfence, they are the best bar none, have built in pgp, and donate 15% of their proceeds to EFF, who’s actively sued the NSA and other US government agencies for violations of user privacy, and single handedly changed laws in the us to your favor.
I haven’t thought about sending an anonymous email but it would definitely be of good use for surprises and all that. I wouldn’t want to use it for anything spooky or stuff. You do learn new things everyday! Awesome.