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Searching by Email Address? Take These Precautions First

Searching by email address can be an excellent way to find old friends or find out who has been sending you annoying emails. (The two, of course, are not mutually exclusive.) Before you start typing in email addresses to find names associated with them, take some precautions to make sure that you have the right email address.

Check the Header Before Searching by Email Address

Did you know that it's remarkably easy to spoof email addresses? In other words, you can send an email that looks as though it was sent from someone else. Think of it as writing someone else's name on the "return address" portion of an envelope. Wrong? Yes. Possible? Of course.

If someone spoofs their email address when sending an email, then it might be more difficult to find the email associated with a message. However, it is not impossible to do so. To check the headers of emails that have been sent to you (thus making it more accurate to search by email addresses), take the following steps:

If your email client is Apple Mail:

  1. Click View.
  2. Click Message.
  3. Click All Headers.

Then, you will see the detailed header. Look for an email address that is different from the one that shows up in Apple Mail. If the email addressed has beens spoofed, it will be there.

If your email client is Microsoft Outlook:

  1. Open an email.
  2. Click Message
  3. Click Options.
  4. Click Dialog Box Launcher.

Then, the headers will appear in the Internet headers tab.

Be Aware of Privacy Laws When Finding Emails

Use common sense when finding email addresses using reverse email lookup services. Don't harrass people with email addresses you find when you search by email address, and be aware of the Can Spam Act of 2003. If you collect someone's email address for marketing purposes, you could be treading into hot water if you use their email address for villainous purposes, or if you do not comply with the Can Spam act.

When Finding Email Addresses, Have Reasonable Standards for Accuracy

Don't rely on your ability to search by email addresses for truly urgent matters or for emergencies. If you really need to get in contact with someone, don't rely on a free email finding service. Email, in particular, is by its nature a relatively anonymous service. Unlike cell phones, they do not have to be tied down to a specific identity. As a result, it is easy to hide behind anonymous email addresses or remain unsearchable to "search by email" services.

By keeping these common sense principles in mind, you will likely have a much more pleasant time using search by email address services to find email addresses.

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