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How To Verify Valid Email Addresses

A lot of your life likely goes on through e-mail these days. This includes communications with friends and family, confirmations of purchases that you've made online such as at stores or at auction, work-related memos and communications, job applications and offers, and a great deal more. Of course, your e-mails will also likely include the dreaded SPAM messages that have become the plague of today's electronic communications.

But how do you tell whether or not an e-mail is valid? What if you have received an e-mail saying that you've won a contest with an attractive prize, or that you've won an auction on which you placed a bid? What if you receive a message from your financial institution requesting that you take certain actions. How do you know if it is a legitimate email?

To start, you should always treat all e-mails as though they were fraudulent. It may seem backward, but the "guilty until proven innocent" method is much safer when it comes to your use of e-mail and the internet as a whole.

Next, learn to read the headings of emails before you actually open them, unless you're absolutely certain that you know the sender. Doing this differs from one e-mail program to the next, but if you use a program in your computer such as Microsoft® Outlook or Microsoft® Outlook Express, it typically means that you will be looking at the "Properties" of an e-mail; whereas if you use a web-based e-mail program, you may need to change the "Options" for your e-mails so that the headers are displayed.

Once you can see the header for your email, you'll be looking at the "From:" line. This will show you the email address that actually sent the e-mail to you (which may differ from what you could see about the e-mail when you first received it, as unethical e-mail senders often lie about who they are in the "Name" portion of their emails). The subdomain and domain of the email (the information after the @ symbol) should exactly match the information you may know about who the sender is claiming to be.

If you don't know anything about who the sender is claiming to be, then simply perform a reverse e-mail search. This kind of search allows you to find out information related to a given e-mail address, such as whether the sender is a known spammer, and other applicable information. This will help you to know whether the sender is who he or she says they are.

Email Spam & Scams