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How to Find Out Who Sent You an Anonymous Email

by Clare Edwards

It's remarkably easy to send emails anonymously, hiding one's own address and sometimes even making it look as if the email originates from another person's address. While anonymous emails can be innocent -- sending a compliment or playing a harmless prank, for example -- they can also be threatening or abusive. Finding out where anonymous emails originate can be an important step in putting a stop to the harassment.

Outlook Express

Step 1

Launch Outlook Express. Double-click on the anonymous message in your inbox to open it in a new window.

Step 2

Click "File" at the top left of the screen to open the File menu. Select "Properties." Select the "Details" tab. Click on "Message source." This will open the full headers for the email, including the IP of the sender.

Step 3

Navigate to an IP tracking site such as IPchecking.com, IPtrackeronline.com or IPaddresslocation.org. Copy and paste the IP address that the email originally came from into the appropriate field. If you can't ascertain the originating IP, use the tool that allows you to paste the entire email header.

Keep records of any information you uncover.

Make a note of the information returned -- this may include the name and address of the sender, if you are very fortunate. If not, it may give you a location or other useful data that will help you to track down the sender.

Gmail

Step 1

Launch Gmail. Open the anonymous email you want to trace.

Step 2

Click the downward-pointing arrow (located next to the "Reply" button). Choose "Show original." This will open a new window with the full email header.

Launch an IP tracking site or an email address tracking site. Copy and paste the originating IP or the full email header as appropriate. Record any information that the IP or email tracking site returns.

Yahoo Mail

Step 1

Anonymous emails can be unnerving -- but stay calm.

Launch Yahoo Mail. Open the anonymous email you want to trace.

Step 2

Click on the cogwheel icon with the downward-pointing arrow to open the More Actions menu. Click "View Full Headers."

Launch an IP tracking site or an email address tracking site. Copy and paste the originating IP or the full email header as appropriate. Record any information that the IP or email tracking site returns.

Tips

  • Save anonymous or harassing emails and keep a detailed record of everything you find out. This may be useful if you need to take action later on.
  • If the emails are abusive or threatening, contact the authorities. You could also contact the sender's parents, educational establishment or employer.

Warning

  • Always stay calm and respond appropriately to anonymous emails. They can be annoying and even distressing, but responding in kind or becoming abusive can escalate conflicts and may even land you in legal trouble.

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