Who Do I Notify If I Know Who Sent Me a Threatening Email?
By James Wright
Online threats may be common, but they should still be taken very seriously, especially if they are coming from someone you know. If you are receiving such threats and you know who they are coming from, you have a few options depending on the severity of the threats and if you feel like you are in danger. Regardless, online threats are illegal by federal law, so they should be reported to the authorities in your area.
Save and Print Emails
Before you contact anyone, print out the emails that contain the threats as well as any other communication, such as chat logs or messages. Do not delete these emails; even more importantly, do not respond to the person threatening you. If you are prepared to contact authorities, do not get involved with the other person. Save everything for reference and consider forwarding a copy of these emails to yourself at another email address to make sure you have backups.
Contact your local police department -- do not call 911 unless the threat is urgent -- and request to speak with an officer. An officer can come to investigate and file a report. The report itself only puts your case on file so it can be referenced in case of any future altercations with this person, but if the threat is severe enough it may proceed further at the officer's discretion.
Contact Attorney or Courts
If the threats continue, or if you feel you are in danger, you can choose from two different courses of action. First, contact an attorney specializing in criminal law to see what your options are in legally pursuing the person threatening you. According to U.S. Statute 18 U.S.C. § 875(c), sending threats via email is a federal crime, so you may be able to pursue legal action. If this person is near you, you may also be able to attempt to file a restraining order -- also called an "order of protection" -- against them to make them stop emailing you and prevent them from coming near you or your property and place of work. Whether you can do this or not may depend on your state of residence.
If you are considering pursuing legal action, do not block the person threatening you; if they continue threatening you, you will need any future emails to save as evidence. If they are sending threats via third-party sites such as social networks, you can report their threatening messages to the site itself after saving their messages. Threats are taken very seriously and the percon may lose access to their online accounts.
Based in California, James Wright has been writing since 1998. Wright's articles have been published on various websites with a focus on technical fields such as computers and the Internet, and were also featured in a now-retired publication for an online artistic community. Wright studied English, journalism, politics and psychology at Riverside Community College.