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Did You Know?

In some states it is illegal to falsify header information. Find out if your state has such legislation.


Many people inaccurately believe that the sender of the message is the one listed in the "from" line. The problem is that spamers can forge the information in the header. The following is an example of header lines and what to look for in order to accurately determine the origin of the message. In order to view this information you must be able to view the entire header. In Netscape select "View>Headers>All". In Outlook Express open the message and select "View>All Headers"

Message_Id: Look at the domain name ("userABC@123domain.com"). These should agree in different areas of the header. An exception to that might be if the individual has his own domain name then the Received and ID would show the service provider's domain name while the other areas show the individual's domain name.

The most valuable information you have is in that last "Received:" line. Unless the user can control that domain the domain name and IP address (ex: []) should be accurate. That IP address is going to be the source of the message.
Keep in mind that this entire step should not be necessary if it is a legitimate commercial e-mail. Most legitimate companies will clearly identify themselves as well as provide "opt-out" instructions to have your name removed from their list. Be careful though. If you suspect the e-mail is not legitimate or if the header or subject line are misleading or appear to be fraudulent DO NOT respond to any "opt-out" instructions. Spammers may do one of two things, either offer a fake return address or use your response to sign you up for more Spam lists. If the sender is trying to conceal his identity you can be sure he's not going to provide you with honest "opt-out" information!

A great resource for looking up IP addresses can be found at UXN Spam Combat.

Often, the company that will be listed when you do an IP lookup is going to be the sender's service provider. You may contact them directly to find out who the sender is. This has another benefit as well because most ISP's have policies that prohibit using their services to send unsolicited commercial e-mail. If this is the case, the ISP will often shut down the sender's account. No more Spam!

If you don't want to spend a lot of time tracking the abuser down, or having trouble doing so, check out the Network Abuse Clearinghouse. This organization will further aid you in tracking and reporting e-mail abusers.

Go to Reporting Abuse
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