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How To Deal With Threatening Emails Or Harassing Email
Harassing emails, threatening emails, hate emails
and so forth can be upsetting, but there are actions you can take ...
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First, let's decide what kind of threatening or harassing email we are dealing with. The vast majority of the time
threatening or harassing emails are pranks. But, let's stay on the safe side and start with
possibility it is a "real" threat. If you know
the person, or feel fairly certain you know who is sending threatening email, contact the police or
authorities, now. Especially if the email contains sexual, racial references or details physical violence.
DO NOT delete the threatening email. DO print it out. On your computer, place the
email in folder where you can find it later should the authorities need to examine it on your computer.
Any email threatening you or your family's well being is an illegal act. IF the threatening email
or harassing email is anonymous in nature AND you have reason to believe there is reason for threats to
be made against you (court testimony, jury duty, you witnessed a crime, you dumped an ex-boyfriend), then take the actions
mentioned above. Now, if you get a threatening or harassing email that is anonymous but you do not feel it
is an immediate reason to contact the authorities (yet) there are actions you can take to stop harassing emails
and possibly discourage future harassment.
While general spam is a nuisance, anonymous harassing email can be upsetting and even frightening.
What makes it frightening is that you can feel helpless because you cannot
easily figure out who is sending harassing emails. It provokes a kind of paranoia.
And these emotions are exactly what the sender wants you to feel. Someone who sends harassing or threatening emails
wants you to be upset, frightened and paranoid. However, may I suggest you feel something else: Anger.
Now, channel that anger into direct action. Why go along with the program of someone so cowardly they cannot
speak their mind in person and deal with the consequences? If you have received a direct threat to your well being
in an email, you now have an advantage: The person threatening you has now just broken the law.
Let's deal with threatening email first, as it is the most upsetting. First, DO NOT respond to the email in anyway.
There is no way the person threatening you knows you have gotten the email (they do not know even if they sent it to the right email
address). Turn the tables. Now is the time to make them wait and wonder. And, if you are lucky, they will send
a second one. Great. More evidence and it makes it easier for authorities to track an active email account.
Think about the old nursery rhyme, "Sticks and stones may break your bones but names will never hurt you".
That is all a threatening email is: A bunch of words. It is only your imagination that can make it seem scary.
And, since that is what the sender wants, don't go along with it.
Do make a printed copy of the email. There is a type of email sometimes called "disappearing email" that can
simply vanish from you IN box within a day or two. In this printed copy, make sure to include the email
headers. (See our article on
How to find email headers if you are unsure how to do this).
DO NOT automatically believe the email address displayed in the "Reply To" box of the email is real. This email address
can be easily faked. Until you have revealed the email headers you cannot be certain who or where
the harassing or threatening email originated. Make sure you keep the original threatening email in a folder in your email client.
If you do not know how to do this, find someone who can help you navigate your email controls. Hey, someone has threatened you.
It is time to organize your friends and/or relatives to fight back. If you are not an adult, get your parents involved.
If you have an older bother or sister of adult age ask them for help.
In the case of a threatening email it is important to act quickly, as in NOW. If this threatening email, especially one
that asks you for money or demands you do what you are told. It has now escalated to "blackmail" ... very, very
illegal. You are more than within your rights to get the police and FBI involved.
Remember, the person who is in real trouble here is not you. It
is the person who sent the threatening email. As mentioned before, if you really feel that you are in real danger, contact your local
police. Have a couple of copies of the email printed up to provide them. Forward that threatening email to
the Internet Crime Complaint Center. ... which do work
with the FBI.
Now, if you have received a threatening email that goes something like this, "I have been hired to
assassinate you if you do not pay me...", be aware this is very likely a SPAM shakedown. Most likely the sender is not even
in the same country you are. Likely, the email was generated overseas. If you are in the U.S., absolutely forward it to the
Internet Crime Complaint Center. and get the SPAMMERS shut
down as quickly as possible. Do not let these people threaten others via spam like they have you.
You can learn more about this type of illegal threatening spam at
Now, regardless of the threat sent to you, let's go to the next step and get the person who has sent you a threatening email
O.K., you have made a copy of the threatening or harassing email, right? You have created a folder
in your email program to save the email. You have
revealed the email headers. This is VERY important because it is necessary to really know where the harassing
email originated. And, when you file a complaint, you will be asked to forward the threatening and/or harassing
email WITH the email headers revealed (so the email provider can confirm the email did come from their services and
trace where/who sent the offensive email). Again, if you cannot seem to figure out how to reveal your email headers,
get help from friends or contact your email provider or ISP for help.
Once you have revealed the email header, look for the "Received: from". Example: you
will see something like "Received: from firstname.lastname@example.org" ... or
"Received: from easyemailsearch.com" (meaning the email was likely sent directly off
the domain's server and no email address is involved). What you want
to do is copy and paste the domain name into the
browser address bar. In this case easyemailsearch.com is the domain. This should transport you to
the domain where the email originated. If you do not know how to use copy and paste, just write down
the domain name shown in the Received: from portion of the revealed email address header
Then, type the domain name (which appears AFTER the @ symbol) into the browser address bar.
This technique for finding the real source of the email generally works, however, very cleaver and tech savvy
people can forge some of this information. No matter. Someone owns that domain name listed in the Received: from
portion of the header and they are going to want to know someone is abusing and possibly illegally using their domain
name. This is especially true if that domain is registered in the USA, UK, Australia, Europe or Canada.
The vast majority of email sent and received is associated with a domain name. That means that there is
a registered owner of the domain name who DOES NOT want to their domain being the source of illegal or
unethical activities. This can result in all sorts of bad things like getting the domain being shut down, blocked,
the domain owners sued, government or criminal investigations and/or a damaged reputation. This includes so called
anonymous email sites and free email address
sites. These services are great to have on the Web and do have a place. Owners of these domains and web sites want to operate
without some idiot abusing their services. And, they also rely on the domain name
registration system and the good will of Internet providers. So, when you supply the domain owners and/or management
with a valid, threatening or harassing email showing in the
email headers that THEIR domain is likely responsible, they take it personally and generally act very quickly. They can
shut down the email account, ban the person who registered for the email account and/or pass the information on to
the authorities for legal action. See, you now have a whole army of folks working with and for you to stop threatening and/or
harassing emails. Some examples of how free email sites and email providers handle abuse:
Report G-mail abuse ...
Report Yahoo email abuse ...
Report Comcast email abuse
As mentioned before, another great source of help with harassing and/or threatening emails is your ISP provider.
Who is your ISP provider? That is the person/company who provides your Internet connection and/or
whoever provides you with an email address. Most ISP and/or companies that offer "valid" email addresses
have a phone contact number or, at the least, email support. Do not be shy about contacting them and asking for help.
They have the technicians and skilled staff members who can give you the most up-to-date advise AND perform complex email
tracing techniques. Also, your ISP or email provider can set up potent SPAM filters and even filter all emails containing profanity.
You can even download and install such software yourself on your computer
and/or within your email client software. Your email provider or ISP want to help, so ask ... and if they do not
help, then you really need to change your email provider or ISP.
Many people are nervous about taking direct action when receiving a harassing email. They worry somehow the
sender will know it was them who shut down their email address, or got sender banned. First of all, there is a
good chance the domain which generated the email is going to shut them down, anyway. Chances are, this person has
sent harassing email before and will get shut down because someone else has reported the email address for abuse.
Also, ALL free email providers reserve the right to shut down an email address and/or ban anyone from using their
email service for any reason. Could be someone sending out harassing emails got detected doing so by the service
they are using. Not likely, but who knows. Those free email services can contain A LOT of special "terms and conditions for use".
Someone who wants to send harassing or threatening emails certainly cannot use a "valid" email address
since they are pretty much identified and in trouble the moment they send a threatening email... a valid email address has
a credit card and/or valid authentication of the user. Of course, people who would send out harassing emails may not
be too bright, that's possible.
This site offers a sophisticated
reverse email check service. However, reverse checking email addresses from spammers
(who work very hard at NOT being found) and people who send harassing, annoying
or threatening email (who also try to remain anonymous) rarely returns email address search results that are
of any use. Also, previously mentioned, spammers and harassing emailers almost universally
forge the "Reply To:" and/or the "From:" email address. If you DO manage to obtain an email
address you think may be valid, the whole story can change. From a valid email address you can get A LOT of information
about the email address owner, possibly including home address, phone number. You can even check for a criminal record.
If you are dealing with a legitimate threatening email, turning over such detailed information to the police, FBI or your lawyer
can quickly change your status from victim to predator. Some reverse email address checks can produce
property records, business records and other financial information.
Lastly, let us speak of annoying emails. With the freedom of speech, anyone is entitled to email you and call you
ugly. They can even express themselves with lots of profanity.
If they do it every day, then it could be considered harassment. However, then the question would be why are you
reading it everyday? Set-up an email filter, block them. If you do not know how, call your email provider.
Change your email address for a while, get another one. Or, put your current email address in "vacation auto response" mode
and use another email address (a vacation auto response is where your email provider bounces all your in coming emails
back to the sender with a message like, "I will be out of town for a while, contact me another time").
Return to using your old email address in a few days, or months. Then,
email only your close friends with the new address. It is typical to get annoying email from time to time ... they use
to be called "flames" or "flaming someone's email" and was generally confined to immature teen behavior.
If annoying email is bothering you, just do something about it that cuts off the sender from reaching you.
If you feel you are getting "flames" from a valid email address, consider doing a background check on the sender
with a reverse email check. You
may discover a good deal about the sender that you can use. And, NEVER respond to
annoying emails. It is the response that generally escalates the whole problem. Don't waste your time. Let the sender find someone
else to be ugly with.
Hopefully, these ideas on dealing with threatening emails, harassing emails and annoying emails has been of help.
Have fun and be save. If you ever have need of a professional email searching or reverse email searching service, keep this site in mind.
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How To Deal With Threatening And Harassing Emails
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