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Get Rid of Spam Posing as Hotmail Contacts

Al from MN writes:

I was forwarding a email to one of my contacts and I noticed on my contact list is a box marked Adult Chat. I have no clue as to how it got there and I can’t seem to remove it. I am using MSN Hotmail account and my operating system is windows 7. Obviously, Hotmail nor McAfee picked this one up.

Al, it seems like spammers are always finding new ways to harass us online. In your case, having “Adult Chat” in your contact list isn’t just potentially malicious; it’s also embarrassing. You certainly don’t want your family or co-workers to think you’re up to no good.

McAfee didn’t notice this uninvited contact because it isn’t a virus or infection, so there isn’t really anything to detect. What’s happening here is that you’re being invited to the Adult Chat Hotmail group. Hotmail groups allow members to communicate more easily, and one member can quickly send a message to the entire group. When the spammer sends you the invitation to the Adult Chat group, the name of that group shows up in your contact list, whether you’ve accepted the invitation or not. Adult Chat positions itself so that it can’t be deleted like other contacts.

Fortunately, the fix for this one is easy. Log into your Hotmail account on the Windows Live website. Click the “Contacts” button on the left side of the window. Click on “View invitations” under the “Your friends” heading. Hotmail may not give an indication that you have any invitations, so you’ll always have to click this button to find out.

On the invitations screen, you’ll see Adult Chat listed under the Groups heading. Simply click the “No, thanks” button to deny the request, and watch Adult Chat disappear from your contacts list. If strange names start appearing in your contacts list again, remember to come back here to check the invitations screen.

Once you’ve gotten rid of Adult Chat, you can change your settings so you don’t have to deal with this problem again. To do that, click the “Change your invitation settings” link above Groups. Click the button next to “Private” and click “Save” to apply the change.

By setting your privacy options to Private, no one can send you invitations. Only your friends can see your status, profile, contact information and photo albums. Also, only people you approve can find you when they search for you by name. If you want everyone to be able to find you in search and see your profile, but you want to stop getting invitations from those you don’t know, click “Advanced”. Under the “Who can contact me” section, click the slider next to “Friend and group invitations.” Drag the slider to choose your desired privacy setting. Selecting “No one” will block everyone from sending you group invitations. You can also choose to only allow invitations from friends or from people your friends know. When you’re done choosing a setting, click “Save.”

Turning off invitations, or at least keeping an eye on them, will usually prevent most Hotmail spammers from posing as your contacts. If you’re concerned that spammers have infected your computer, consider running an anti-virus scanning program for peace of mind. Free programs, like SUPERAntiSpyware [1] and Ad-Aware [2], do a good job at removing worms, spyware, and other problems.

~ Melissa Howbert