Can Someone Steal Your Email to Send Spam?

Your Identity Isn’t The Only Thing That Can Be Stolen From You

You wake up one morning, head to your computer and turn it on. You pour yourself a cup of coffee as you’re waiting for the computer to boot up and you go back to your desk and log into your email account. To your surprise, there are hundreds of messages in your inbox. Boy, the spam jerks must have been busy last night! The only problem is, you were the spammer and you don’t even realize it.

Email Identity Theft

Unscrupulous cretins aren’t only interested in stealing your personal identity, they want to steal your email identity too. Why would someone want to seal your email identity? Well, the distribution of spam violates the law and if they can make it seem as though the email came from you, who gets in trouble?

Sending spam can bring in big money. Even though most people wouldn’t do business with companies sending spam, it does happen and the number of people who are willing to do business with them makes spam distribution worth it to the spam criminals. They just don’t want to get caught, so they’ll steal your email identity for their spam campaign needs.

The Aftermath

If you become the victim of email identity theft, you can find yourself facing some serious issues. Not only will thousands upon thousands of people think you sent them a spam email, but now you are going to be dealing with bounced emails being sent to your email account (the number of these emails could be in the tens of thousands) and you’ll be getting nasty reply emails from people who received the spam email from you. In addition, you might be facing the revocation of your ISP and email hosting services.

How It Happens

There are two main ways email identity theft happens. One way these underhanded delinquents send spam emails from your email account is by stealing your user id and password. This can be done in one of many ways. They may send you a phishing email asking you to log into a copy of your email site so they can store your login information, they can use a bot program to get the information they need or they may just hack into your account. This is the type of email identity theft that can put your ISP and email accounts at risk.

Another method of email identity theft doesn’t actually involve the use of your email account. Instead, the spammers make it look like the email is coming from your email address. The “from” address reflects your email address and the “reply to” address is your email address, but your actual email account and ISP provider aren’t involved in the spam campaign, so while you’ll be receiving all of the bounced emails and nasty replies, you won’t be at risk of losing any Internet services.

What You Can Do

If you want to protect yourself from email identity theft, there are a few things you should do.

First and foremost, guard the password to your email account as though your life depended on it. Don’t ever give it to anyone and don’t enter it into a website unless you are absolutely sure the website you are on is the website for your email account.

Also make sure your password isn’t easy to decipher. There are tons of programs that can be run to figure out your password. These programs run through names, words, combinations of words, combinations of words and numbers and they are able to do so at the rate of thousands of guesses a second. If your password is easy, it won’t take too long for a pro to get access to it. Use a password generator when creating passwords for your accounts or choose a password that involves a combination of letters, numbers and symbols.

In addition to password protection, a firewall can also prove to be a valuable tool when it comes to fighting email identity theft. If you don’t have a firewall protecting your computer, think about getting one.

While you can’t really prevent an underhanded con from using your email address as the “from” address and the “reply to” address in an email campaign, you can protect yourself by only giving your email address out to people and businesses you trust.


a stolen e-mail address was used to scam us during a purchase through an ebay auction. We thought the seller was legit because during our background check of the seller, the e-mail address he used was associated with a legitimet website. He took our money and never sent the item. When we contacted the law enforcement in that state, they said they could do nothing for us because the seller/contact claimed he was just a middle man. It's a very complex situation. We've been told we will need to hire a lawyer and spend thousands more to get our money back.

If you want to get more information on this type of scam, you can contact me.

The common name for this kind of unfortunate happenstance is a "Joe Job", named after the first person to fall victim to this back in the 1990's - thousands of angry people complained about spam from someone named Joe, when in fact he had just been a victim of a mass mailing - more of a victim than all the spam recipients.

One of my clients fell prey to this; it wasn't her fault and not much she could do. A spammer needed to put someone as the return address of a mass mailing and picked any old email address from his/her database - and it happened to be my client.

After sending millions of emails out, a percentage of them got bounced back (invalid recipient, anti-spam filters, etc.) - bounced back to my client. It flooded her inbox! Eventually it died down days later, thankfully.

If I remember correctly, the best ways to prevent falling victim to a Joe Job are to keep your main email address shielded from public view, and to make that address is not so simple (avoid "" for example) so it can't be guessed by spammers.

Have a second email address that is somewhat disposable that you feel comfortable giving out to unknown websites and people (like when registering on websites, etc.)

What about the AOL & Bill Gates email that says send this to as many of your friends, in other words as many as you send they will send you a check so they can avoid a lawsuit.
Have anyone seen that one? And,is this a scam to get ahold of email addresses?

Where you get this guestbook ? I want the same script $)
Wonderful!!! I found what I needed, thanks for information

Hello, just discovered your lovely domain today today ^^ I love the brightness and the flow of the layouts, keep it up!

Wonderful and informative web site.I used information from that site its great.
Thank you!

Recent Posts

Beware the Possibility of Donor Registry Scams

These Identity Theft Games Can Help You Stay Sharp

Can Identity Theft Repair Companies Really Help?

IRS Identity Theft Scams

Debit Cards and ID Theft at the Gas Station

The Identity Theft Red Flags Rule

Creative Identity Theft: It's on the Rise

Identity Theft Trends for 2011 and Beyond

How to Dispute Credit Report Errors

Identity Theft and Your Social Security Number


Subscribe to this site's feed

« Getting Rid of Internet Footprints on Your Computer | Home | Has YOUR Social Security Number Been Stolen for Employment Fraud? »

Copyright © All rights reserved.
All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.