Never, never, never, never give your email address to a car dealership or a realtor. Don’t do it.
I’ve known for years it’s a good idea to have a burner email address, or even several, to use when you sign up for some services or contests or free trials. The whole point of these offers is to get your email address and then market to you again and again until you relent and sign up for the thing they want you to purchase.
However, nowadays, a lot of the home- and car-buying process is done online and over email with a realtor or salesman. The process is more streamlined.
When you search for a home, you can do it all online, then find the ones you want to see and schedule showing with a realtor over email. There’s no need to grab a list of 10 homes and just drive around all afternoon.
The same is true for a car. If you’re savvy, you can find the exact car you want, contact the dealership online and negotiate a price before you ever have to set foot on a lot and deal with their high-pressure sales tactics that assume you have no backbone or any knowledge about the car you want to buy or lease. Hell, you can complete the whole process online now. It’s great.
And participating in these activities means using email. Since they’re one-time transactions, you tend to think it’s OK to use your day-to-day email you use to get in touch with friends, be a good kid and say hi to your parents, and the like. Don’t. Don’t do it. You should use a burner email address when you buy a car or a home, too. Here’s why.
Apparently, there are more than enough unscrupulous realtors and car salespeople in the world who have no ethics or morals when it comes to getting the sale or sharing your personal information with other people in their profession for future leads or sales. How do I know? Facebook told me.
If you go to your Facebook ad settings, then check out the “Advertisers you’ve interacted with” section, you’ll see a listing of all the brands and pages which have uploaded your Facebook account email address to their respective Facebook ad accounts to target you as a potential client. I went to the page thinking I might see a few stray brands here and there. Man, was I wrong.
In the end, there were a total of almost 1,800 brands or pages which claimed I had interacted with them and given them permission to use my email address for Facebook targeting and marketing. Of those 96 percent were car dealerships and realtors, the overwhelming majority of which I had never heard of and are located nowhere near where I live. The only way, then, they would get my email address is through unethical sharing and selling of email lists, then uploading massive email files to Facebook in hopes of casting a massive net and eventually catching some leads. That’s not just brokers and car salesmen; that’s also the unscrupulous tactics of sites and apps like Trulia and Zillow on the real estate side and Cars.com and other price-quoting sites for vehicles. They will sell your information to brokers and salesmen. It’s a big part of their business model. Use a burner for them, too.
Of course, Facebook does absolutely nothing to verify these advertisers actually have your permission to use your email address. They don’t care. They never will. So, if you want to avoid these two classes of people passing around your email address — and probably your actual address — around like it has no value, make sure you use a burner email address that is not tied to your Facebook account when you’re working with realtors and car dealers.