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04/10/2005 Archived Entry: "In praise of Cotse.net"

COTSE.NET -- SPAM SLASHER. I've been using the web-privacy and e-mail privacy services of Cotse.net ever since Silver and several other TCFers recommended them a year or so ago.

Until yesterday, however, I hadn't used one of Cotse's shiniest offerings -- their virtually limitless e-mail aliases and alternate domain names.

Dunno whether this has happened to you. But about two weeks ago the spam in my mailbox, which had been obnoxious but endurable, suddenly increased in volume and vileness. The stuff made me want to take a bath after merely viewing its subject lines. Even Thunderbird's fairly intelligent adaptive spam filter couldn't cope. Most of the foulness was oozing in via one Bigfoot.com address that I use for Net transactions, mail lists and the like. Cancel that Bigfoot account and the spam would be gone -- but so would my access to about 25 mail lists, vendors, subscriptions, etc. I could get a new address, but eventually it, too, would become spam-besotted and useless.

Cotse to the rescue. With no fuss, no muss, Cotse let me give every single listserv, publication, and vendor its very own e-mail address for me. Now, if some spammer gets hold of one of those addresses, I'll know exactly which outfit or list they obtained it from. And I'll instantly be able to kill that address and use another.

Here's how it works.

When you sign up for Cotse services, you get a main account in the name of your choice. Let's say your account name is "screwsnoops."

Any mail sent to screwsnoops@cotse.net goes to your online mailbox (and can also be fetched to your offline mail program through a POP3 server).

Any mail that goes to WHATEVER@screwsnoops.cotse.net also goes to you.

So you can give everybody you deal with online their own Cotse.net address, and you can even do it on the fly. For example:


All of the above will arrive in your mailbox. When you're signing up for a new Net service, just make up an appropriate alias on the spot. Then if "newyorktimes@screwsnoops.cotse.net" starts delivering spam, you have several easy options:

Then you can, if you want, give the New York Times a new address. Or quit doing business with them because their databases have been invaded by spammers.

But there's more. Cotse.net also gives you 20 other domain names you can activate and use. Depending on what you've selected in your options, all of the following will also deliver mail to you:


And again, you can create new names on the fly and wipe them out in a few minutes. You can even create names that are set to expire after a fixed amount of time.

And just think of the fun you could have, using this "address on the fly" function in real life. Wouldn't that hot babe (or guy) you just met be thrilled when you give their own name -- "jennifer@screwsnoops.pointyhats.com" or "mikethehunk@screwsnoops.freebeer.com" -- as your contact address? And if you decide a month from now that Jennifer is a loon or Mike is a lout -- out they go forever.

Currently one of Cotse's 20 alternate addresses (privaserv.com) isn't functioning. But I've tested seven others and they all deliver the mail exactly as advertised. (NOTE: An hour after I posted this, privaserv.com was working like a champ. Hm ... may I flatter myself by asking if Cotse's managers read Wolfesblog?)

You guys who like the free online mail services are sure welcome to them -- and to their ads, their ever-changing privacy policies, and their snooping. But the $5.95 a month I spend on Cotse is some of the best money I spend on any service. And yesterday -- after I wiped out the Bigfoot account and replaced that address with two dozen customized spam-stoppers -- I had cause to think that money was even better spent.

On Friday, I received more than 150 pieces of spam. Yesterday ... two. If spammers grab one of the new Cotse addresses, they'll have it for about an hour before I slash and burn it. Take that, spammers! And depending on how the address "got out" some vendor may also get an earful from me and a well-deserved blogging.

Posted by Claire @ 10:38 AM CST

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