As any of my readers know I hesitate to give out any personal information. Using the same physical address, email address, phone number, and credit card number helps data marketers build very thorough profiles about us and I do everything I can to undermine this. A service that is relatively new (at least to me) helps to make it much easier to avoid giving out this information. This service is called Blur.
Before moving on it should be pointed out that Blur is a paid service. Though there is a free version available, its functionality is very limited. Blur Premium costs a very reasonable $39/year with discounts for purchasing multiple years ($59/2 years and $79/3 years). For the features Blur provides the cost is totally worth it, and most of the features described below require a premium subscription.
Blur helps to protect your privacy through a number of features including Masked Emails, Masked Phones, and Masked Cards. The Masked Emails function works similarly to services like notsharingmy.info and 33mail. When you create a masked email, Blur will give you a randomly-generated email address that will forward your mail to your real account. You can create as many masked email addresses as you like, allowing you to have unique usernames on your accounts and protect your real address. Masked Emails even protect your email address when you reply, a feature not currently offered by notsharingmy.info and only offered as a paid feature in 33mail. Blur allows you to cancel forwarding to any masked email at any time, so if you sign up for a service that is bombarding you with junk mail you can simply login to your account and toggle forwarding to “off”, or delete the address entirely.
Blur also has a built-in username and password generator. When you sign up for a new account or service and generate a username with Blur it will be a masked email address. Unfortunately the passwords generated by Blur are only 12 characters long (though they are complex) and I have found no way to change this. Masked Phone is another interesting feature that allows you to generate a phone number through Blur that will forward calls and text messages to your phone. Unfortunately you can only have one Masked Number at a time, and the cost to change your masked number is $7; additionally there is a $.01 charge for each incoming call, for each minute used, and for each incoming text. At this time you cannot send outgoing text messages from your masked number.
Blur’s most exciting feature by far is Masked Cards. Blur allows you to create masked credit cards for online purchasing. When you wish to make an online purchase you log into Blur and create a new masked card. The amount of purchase will be charged to your “real” card, and the masked card works much like a pre-paid gift card. Blur will give you a credit card number, expiration date, CCV, and billing address, and you can choose the name and shipping address. This limits the amount of information that retailers, credit card companies, and third-parties can accumulate about your purchases, the benefits of which are obvious. It also limits the exposure of your real credit card number on the internet.
With the ability to obscure your email address and phone number, create masked credit cards, generate unique, complex usernames and passwords, and manage it all in one place, Blur is almost a one-stop-privacy solution. Your Blur account can be protected with very strong passwords (I haven’t found a length limit yet) and two-factor authentication and can be accessed through your browser, Blur’s add-on for Firefox/Chrome, or their Android/iOS app.