How to Find Who Owns an Email Account

by Contributor ; Updated September 28, 2017

Sometimes an email address is so abstract, there's no way to identify the person's real name. Or, a person may have used bogus registration information when he signed up for the email account, which makes it difficult to trace a real identity. But there are ways to trace who owns an email account, from simply asking to conducting some online searches. And best of all, these techniques are free.

Send a message to the email address. The easiest, most direct way to find who owns an email account is to simply ask. Write a message to the email address, introduce yourself, and politely explain that you'd like to know the person's name.

Run a free email search. Different online sites offer free email searches. For example, you can look up email addresses on MySpace, see what names are associated with it (one might be the email account owner). Go to Myspace.com, click the "Find Friends" tab at the top of the screen, in the "Search By:" menu, select "Email"and enter the email address, then press the "Search" button. A results web page displays with links to MySpace sites where that email address appears. Click on each link and check the site for names associated with that email address.

Run a reverse email search. Pipl, a deep web search engine, offers a free reverse email search. Go to Pipl.com, click the "Email" link, enter the email address, then press the "Search" button. A results web page displays with links to online sites, documents, and so forth where that email address appears. Click on each link and check what names are associated with that email address.

Check all craigslist sites. Craiglist has millions of ads, for cities all over the world. It's easy, and free, to check if that email address is in one of those ads (after all, people provide contact information, such as email addresses, in their craiglist ads). Go to Searchallcraigs.com, enter the email address, press the "Search" button, and review the results. Click on each link and look for any names associated with that email address.

Trace the IP address in the sender's email. If you received an email from this anonymous sender, check the headers in the email for the IP address (this is a unique number for the computer/device where the email message originated). (If you don't know how to open the headers, read "How To Find the Sender's OriginalIP Address Using Email Message Headers" at johnru.com/active-whois/trace-email.html.) Next, conduct an IP trace at Reverse DNS Lookup (go to Remote.12dt.com, enter the IP address, and press the "Lookup" button). Although the results don't show the email account owner's name, you can learn other information such as the geographical location where the email originated and more.

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