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Here's the big reason we get so much junk email. Marketers can see which email we open and respond with an avalanche of new solicitations. If we open email on our phone, as 70 percent of us do, we might even trigger a call.

In the jargon it's called a "read receipt." Without your knowing, marketers use these to tell which email you open. To combat this, we've started using Edison Mail whenever we're on our phones. It works with Yahoo, Gmail, Apple Mail or whatever email service you use, by bringing your mail inside its app.

Besides blocking marketers, Edison neatly categorizes any information about package arrivals, bills and flight changes, while also letting you unsubscribe from any email newsletters bombarding you. The app also stops you from being targeted with Facebook and other ads. Its security tool lets you see if your email address has been compromised.

So how does a free app like this make money? Unlike other apps, Edison doesn't sell specific information about you. Rather, the company says, its bots scan emails to gather anonymous research on consumer trends, and that data is sold. Developers also pay Edison to extract anonymous information from email to make their products easier to use. Look up "Edison mail privacy statement" for more info.

Since launching in 2016, Edison Mail has blocked over one billion read receipts, sent ten million flight notifications, tracked over 90 million packages, and organized 500 million receipts, the company says. We like it.

GONE PHISHING

A reader sent a copy of his driver's license and Social Security card to someone at ProsperityBank.com, instead of ProsperityBankUSA.com, the correct address. "Wife and I froze our credit bureaus, all three, last year. What else should we do besides PRAY?"

Whoever asked for our reader's personal data was "phishing" for it, since the bank's website says it would never ask for such information in an email. Phishing attempts are just what they sound like: attempts to fish information out of you. But the reader had already done the safest thing: He froze his credit reports from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion last year. This makes it tougher for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name.

If you've already given out information, you can check for fraud by looking at your credit report. The Federal Trade Commission website, ftc.gov, suggests getting three free reports from AnnualCreditReport.com.

For extra protection, ask one of the credit reporting agencies to place a fraud alert on your account. That way, any time a new account is opened, the bank or store opening it has to check with you first.

Here's the happy ending: The reader's email did not go through. Several days later he found out that it had bounced back, no one got his information.

WINDOWS 10 TO 7

Last time, we mentioned a reader's angst over Windows 10, suggesting he could still get a Windows 7 machine if he wanted one. We forgot to mention a much simpler solution: Start 10.

Start10 is a $5 program from Stardock.com that makes Windows 10 look like Windows 7. You get the familiar programs list, with links to "My Documents," "Control Panel," and other familiar categories. The reader responded: "Stardock Start10 plus several of their other bits and pieces seems to be the perfect answer. A helluva lot easier than burning down the house and doing a clean WIN 7 install. Outstanding!" There's a 30-day free trial.

APP HAPPY

The free Google Translate app lets you use your camera to translate signs. We tried it on a sign in Catalan (local to Barcelona) that said "Prioritat per a les persones," but we had to tell it to translate from Catalan to English because the automatic language detection did not work. The sign said: "Priority for people," and was translated correctly. Another part of the sign was in a fancy font. It said: "Pedra Tosca Park." But it was translated: "Pedra Tosca's pancake."

Luminary, a free app for iPhone and Android, brings you the best podcasts, which are Internet radio shows. Tap the topics you're interested in after signing up, like "audio drama," "finance," "language lessons," "history," "true crime," "science," "mysteries," "news," "investigative journalism,"etc. The top shows will be displayed, such as Portal which hasn't even started yet, so we're not sure how it could already be a top show. Portal is a Luminary original, as is Sincerely, X. It gives you TED talks (Technology, Entertainment and Design) from people who can't go on stage, either because it's too risky, controversial or painful. You have to be a premium subscriber, which costs $8 a month, for the original shows but there's a free trial. We put The Indicator, Up First and Wall Street Breakfast on our favorites list.

Bob and Joy Schwabach can be reached by email at bobschwab@gmail.com and joy.schwabach@gmail.com.

Business on 07/20/2019

Print Headline: Edison Mail helps stop junk email, associated tracking information

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