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Track Them Down

Posted By On July 14, 2006 @ 3:12 PM In E-Mail Help | No Comments

Q:
I use Yahoo! for my e-mail and I often get inappropriate e-mails and I’m afraid some of them may carry viruses. I send them to Yahoo’s abuse center, but they never do anything about it. How can I trace the e-mail back to the original sender so I can try to stop them?

A:
That is such a common question and I get several e-mails about this particular problem all the time. Depending on how bad the e-mails are that you’re receiving, they can be used as evidence for anyone who is misusing the Internet to either send out junk mail or to mess around with someone’s head. I hope none of you are having to deal with that sort of problem, but if you’re receiving e-mails that you have not requested and they’re of an inappropriate manner, it’s a good idea to know what you can do to try and stop them.

First, let’s go over how e-mail actually works. When you send out an e-mail, it travels through a set of wires until it reaches a type of post office, which is known as the Mail Transfer Agent. (You can read more about that above in today’s Quick Tip). The e-mail you send obviously includes your e-mail address and the receiver’s address. Once the Mail Transfer Agent gets the e-mail, it sorts it out, puts a type of header at the top and then sends it off to the correct recipient. When they get the e-mail, they know who sent it because of the header.

So, when you receive an unfamiliar e-mail, you know right away that you don’t want it because you don’t recognize the header. The header also usually contains the sender’s address book [1]. For Europe, search here [2] and for Australia, try this site [3]. All of these sites have what is called a “Whois” search and you can begin by typing in the IP address that you found to see if it comes up with anything.

Please keep in mind that these sites do charge for some of their services. It just depends on how serious you are about tracking down senders of certain e-mails. You may not want to go into this much depth if the e-mails don’t bother you in a very serious manner. You can use the information you find at your discretion.

~ Erin


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URLs in this post:

[1] address book: http://www.arin.net/

[2] here: http://ripe.net/

[3] site: http://www.apnic.net/