Who is tracking your email?


By now you likely know that when you window shop on the internet, you're being tracked. That's why ads for whatever you were checking out, often pop up on your screen. Well, surfing the web isn't the only time you're movements are being scrutinized. Did you know your email can be tracked too?

Bob Johnson is looking for a job using his photography, videography, editing and marketing skills. And when he emails out a resume he uses tracking software to see if the person he sent it to actually opened it. "I know that my resume has gone where I sent it," Johnson said. "I know how many times its been opened, if an email has been opened 6 times I know there maybe some interest and maybe I'll get a call."

Bob admits it all sounds a little creepy, but the service he uses gives him peace of mind. "I don't think people realize that this technology is out there and available to just about anybody."

A simple online search revealed many companies offer email tracking for free, or for a very low cost. Gary Miliefsky is a Cyber Security Expert and he said, "A couple of years ago only big business had access to this but anyone can use email tracking today. Email tracking is the next big thing in tracking."

How does email tracking work? Some programs have users put a little code next to the recipients email address, that they can't see. And other companies have users just click a box that says "email tracking on". Miliefsky says the tracking software puts a little code or image in the email someone sends and when a recipient opens it, the sender can get pretty interesting info. "When someone is tracking emails on you they can find out a lot of information about when you read the email, how long you were reading it, where you were geo located, what kind of computer you're using, what kind of web browser or email client and if you clicked any hyper links downloaded any attachment or even sent that email onto others."

According to Attorney Anne Mitchell, this tracking is legal in most cases and as for the email senders, "They do not need to disclose that they're doing this." So who could be tracking your email? Miliefsky said, "Besides marketers anyone can see if you've opened an email this can be a collection agency, an attorney, your dentist, your doctor, it could be anyone."

If you want to avoid your email being tracked, read your email in "text only" mode so it doesn't automatically download tracker images and attachments. Also, be careful of clicking on links. Mitchell said, "If you open the email itself they get no information, it's when your email displays that image then they get information."

Bob says he doesn't notify anyone about emails he tracks but says he doesn't plan on being "creepy" about it. "Don't call somebody and say 'Hey I saw that you opened my email! Let's talk!' That's it, don't creep anybody out. The best thing for anybody to keep in mind is that anybody can track your emails."

Some email tracking companies charge people according to the amount of emails they want to track. There's also apps that allow you to track emails you send and get reports sent to your phone.