Spammer Using My Email Address!
Occasionally I get a bounced, or rejected email sent by someone else, with my email address in the From line. Do I have reason to be concerned? Comcast techs say it is just spam. I find that very weird.
Strange but true! Your techs are correct when they say this is the work of a spammer, and it does NOT indicate any security breach on your computer.
Spammers generally don't like to poke their misshapen little heads out from under the rocks where they live, so they try to divert attention from themselves by making it look like someone else sent that "enlarge your body part" message.
Unfortunately, it's trivially easy to spoof the From address in an email.
In fact, most email software will allow you to change the From or the Reply-to address to whatever you want. Spammers use high-volume mail merge software that picks a From address at random from their database of addresses, and sometimes even the recipient address is forged.
The reason you get those bounce messages is because the spammers don't really care if some of their emails are sent to addresses that are invalid or defunct. It's all a numbers game to them.
Some email servers are smart enough to look in the email headers and easily determine that the person in the From line (in this case, you) didn't really send the message. But others do not, so you get dumped on.
It's even worse when the spam *is* delivered to a valid address and that person blames YOU. In such a case, you can just explain that it was the work of an Evil Spammer who forged your address.
If they give you flack, tell them to examine the Received lines in the email headers (most email programs let you view the headers if you poke around in the options) and they'll see that the source of the message was not your service provider.
Have you gotten spams like this? Feel free to post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 16 Jul 2005
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Spammer Using My Email Address! (Posted: 16 Jul 2005)
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Most recent comments on "Spammer Using My Email Address!"
24 Aug 2005
I wish more people understood how easy it is to spoof a "From address." For a few months last year, I had a casual business e-mail acquaintance who was conviced that I was sending her spam and viruses. On the other hand, I do like the abilty to change the "Reply To" address. I have multiple e-mail accounts, and I like being able to use the "Reply To" settings to help keep my business and personal e-mail account traffic somewhat segregated, or to have a respondent reply to an e-mail account I check more frequently than the one they initially used.
18 Nov 2006
Can some one open my yahoo e-mail after i log out from account?
EDITOR'S NOTE: If you are using a public terminal, be sure to shut down the browser after signing off. Otherwise there might be traces of your email in the temp internet folder.
18 May 2009
Thanks for this article! It's helped me to provide an answer to my customers. Some don't believe me when I tell them there really isn't much you can do beyond trying to set up some filters that will filter out any IP (taken from the email header) and checked against the FROM email address.
10 Aug 2009
I am a victim of a spammer using my hotmail address to send unwanted ads to everyone in my contact list and to other people as well. While this article helped me to provide an answer to my family, friends and other contacts, I still have the following questions:
1) The spammer seems to have accessed my "contacts" list. How did that happen?
2) How do I make it stop? I receive tons of bounced email everyday and it is becoming a problem.
EDITOR'S NOTE: I doubt the spammer has your contacts list. More likely the spammer got a copy of a "forward" which had your address and all the others. And I'm sorry to say, you probably can't make it stop. The best you can do is create some Hotmail filters and send it to the junk folder.
04 Apr 2010
my boy friend stole my old email email@example.com he changed my password and my email is the story of my life and my 2 years daughter life and he is using my email just to harm me all my family contacts my work my pictures my daughter pictures are there so please for god sake help me to get it back pleaaaaaaaaase
31 Aug 2010
Is Hotmail less secure than other email providers? It's amazing that spam was sent to almost everyone in my contact list.
13 Oct 2010
Hi i get everything above about spoofers using an email address and making it look like its from someone else and not them etc , but how about this ..ive had all the bounced return to sender emails using my hotmail address etc similar to whats been saidf above aswell , but i just had a look in my sent box and theres is literally 100's of emails being sent from my address ..how does that work it if its just someone making it look like its me or what ?? Also sometimes when im on msn messenger i see someone pop up as if its a friend thats signed in and when i go to click on them not only does it not let me but there not even in my list , im thinking its the scammers ..its seems like there doing a little bit more than just makeing it look like its me sending etc ? and has me worried if they can do that what else can they do ?
19 Nov 2010
Change the password. All this talk about viruses and contacting your ISP makes the problem more complex than necessary. I endured 8 incidents of e-mails going out in my name over a 5 week period. I searched online for an answer numerous times and kept seeing 'little you can do'. I finally called in my too-expensive alpha geek and he had me change my e-mail account password. Just thought I would double back and post the solution wherever I could.
EDITOR'S NOTE: If someone has in fact compromised your account, and has your password, then your solution will work. But if (as is MUCH more common) a spammer has merely obtained or guessed your email address, there really is "little you can do".
20 Feb 2012
I've experienced problems of receiving emails from friends that in fact were from spammers. Contacting the FTC for a reference number to forward these emails to generally will eliminate the problem. I just hope the FTC is able to prosecute these "slimeballs!"
20 Feb 2012
It might be more accurate to say that there is little you can do to make this stop that does not involve a lot of work on your part. One thing that you can do that is very effective is change your email address, i.e. set up a new account. Yes this is a painful thing to do but if you really want this to stop then you have to be willing to stop using the address that has been compromised. Then in the future use more care about who you give your address to. One solution to this that I have used effectively is to set up an account with a forwarding service, give this address only to your close friends and associates who you trust. You can change the address that mail sent to this address is forwarded to without needing to notify anyone. Ask those people who you give this address to not to give it to anyone else.
You can also set up an account that is forwarded to your main address that you only use to give out on INTERNET sites. This address can be easily changed should you start getting tons of spam sent to it. But you will need to keep a record of all the sites you gave it to so that you can notify the ones that you still want to receive info from.
It would be nice if you could somehow tag email addresses that are given out on INTERNET sites so you could know which ones were selling your address.
21 Feb 2012
When I am on aol I keep getting mail from my yahoo mail account that I am not sending to myself. It contain's a message inside and when I try to cut and paste it I get a malware warning. I went to my yahoo acct and it shows I logged in there two day's ago from China and some other country. I changed my password tonight. Will that do any good? Do I need to delete the acct? They are only sending mail to me on several different email accounts that I have set up and one other person who I don't even know.
15 Apr 2013
This started a month ago. Now I get unknown addresses 20-50 per day. this morning an employee of Disney emailed me and asked if the spam he had gotten was from me. I explained it to him.
My fear is the "spam cop" will hear about my address and lock me out of sending email.