Most folks think e-mail is anonymous. Perhaps this is why some go bonkers, sending flame mail, hiding behind their address. (This is similar to road rage, made possible by the anonymity of a vehicle.)



Most folks think e-mail is anonymous. Perhaps this is why some go bonkers, sending flame mail, hiding behind their address. (This is similar to road rage, made possible by the anonymity of a vehicle.)
Consider this before you send off another flamer: It can be easy to legally track down your name from your e-mail address. At minimum, you can use the information to get a sender banned from an Internet system.
The most obvious tracker is to type the address into a search site. This only works if the person’s name and e-mail address is published someplace online, but a lot of them are.
The next solution requires more sleuthing. Every e-mail contains a routing header. They normally are hidden but are easy to reveal. Load the message into your e-mail program. In Outlook, click on View, Options and look for Internet Headers.
Each e-mail program handles this differently, so you may first need to search your program’s help screen on “Internet header.” Some, such as Firefox Thunderbird, make the process easy by clicking an icon next to the subject line.
The header contains all the routing instructions for the message. It’s hidden because it’s used for administration.
Note the header is in chronological order with the last function, delivery to your account, first. The best way to deal with all this info is to scroll down to the end and work your way up.
Look for the last “received.” This tells you where the message was sent. Type that address into your searcher.
If that fails, search for the “return” address near the end. This is the true address of the sender, used if mail is undeliverable.
Wily spammers know how to fake headers. If anything’s accurate, it’s probably the “received” entry as this is posted by the e-mail server.
If you cannot get a name, you can complain to the Webmaster at the server that started the message. Sending to “webmaster@(internet service) usually does this. State your problem with the sender and include a copy of the header and the offending message. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to get a sender kicked off a service.
There are dozens of trace programs that simplify the process. To find them, search on “e-mail tracing program.” Some firewall software also will do the deed.
Contact Jim Hillibish at jim.hillibish@cantonrep.com.