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Dealing With Harassing Email

Receiving a harassing e-mail is a very unfortunate and unpleasant experience.  Some of them can be quite nasty and upsetting.  Though this is a very common occurrence, it is not a normal problem and should not simply be ignored.  Harassing e-mails are different from regular Spam in that they target you specifically. 

Fortunately, there are things that you can do in order to identify the person sending you the e-mail, and to put these harassing messages to a stop.  Cyberspace offers you many opportunities to protect yourself against harassment. Use the following steps to help yourself against an e-mail harasser.

- If you don't know the sender, do not respond at all.  Hope that the sender is only looking to get a rise from you and they'll go away when they don't hear back.

- Make sure that your e-mail program does not automatically send out read receipts when requests have been made (or the sender will know that you've read the e-mail). 

- If you do know the sender - for example, if it's your vengeful ex - send a single short e-mail that states something simple such as "Do not contact me in any way in the future".  This should be all that the e-mail says.  Do not sign it with your name, and do not call the sender a harasser or threaten with legal action.  This will only encourage the sender to keep up the harassing since the entire point is to upset you.

- If the e-mail is not directed to you personally, it may just be Spam and you can delete it. 

- If the e-mail is directed toward you, forward it to the harasser's ISP. Look at the subdomain and the domain of the e-mail address and discover who provides service to the harasser.  This effort may include a reverse e-mail search.  Then, you can find out the contact information for that ISP through a basic search engine and send a copy of the harassing e-mails to them.

ISPs act quickly to protect their own business when they are contacted about harassment through their services.  ISPs will typically immediately cancel a harasser's account and may even pursue the harassment legally.  If the e-mail was bad enough, you can pretty much be guaranteed that the harasser's account will be cut off by the next day.

Keep in mind that if the harassment includes physical threats to you or people you know, or threats to your property, you have the right to show the e-mail to the police who will investigate and act on your behalf.

Email Spam & Scams