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Someone is using my email address to send emails to my contacts!

Posted on 2016-09-07
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Last Modified: 2016-09-09
Someone is sending spam emails to my contacts using my email account. I don't know how he does it. I know that this is happening because a lot of Message Delivery Failure emails are finding their way to my inbox with me as the sender.

What should I do to stop this? Should I disable my email temporarily?
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Question by:Anton Tajanlangit
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Terry Woods earned 500 total points
ID: 41789012
Changing your email account password would be the best first step.

Secondly, consider whether a computer or device you've used to access your email might have been compromised. Is your computer up to date with security patches and antivirus software?
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Expert Comment

by:Malmensa
ID: 41789019
Sounds like someone is "spoofing" your address, just specifying it as the sender. Nothing you can do to prevent that, however, if you ensure that correct SPF records are set up on your DNS server, it will make you a less attractive target, and this will probably not happen again.

More here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sender_Policy_Framework
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Expert Comment

by:Terry Woods
ID: 41789023
If emails are using both your address as the sender, plus people you're familiar with as recipients (as you seemed to indicate in your question), then it seems unlikely to just be spoofing; it says to me that someone's contacts have been compromised, though not necessarily yours.

@Malmensa is correct though that emails can appear to bounce back to you even when they weren't sent from your account.

It may be the case that someone who shares similar contacts with you has been compromised instead. If you have a number of different bounce message involving different people you know, then consider whether the selection of contacts included might also be included in a friend or colleagues contacts. If so, it might be them that's compromised (and your address being spoofed to send scam/spam email to others). If the contents of the bounced emails look like a scam that friends/colleagues might fall for, then it might be worth warning them. Otherwise, it's just a matter of understanding whose contacts have been compromised and taking appropriate action.
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Author Comment

by:Anton Tajanlangit
ID: 41789543
What I remember now is that I received a scam email the other day asking money from me for a medical emergency. It seemed to come from an aunt of mine, which I know wasn't at all possible because that particular aunt of mine is wealthy and doesn't need to ask money from anyone.

So just for fun, I replied to the message anyway, and to confuse the sender I wrote it in my mother tongue instead of in English, the way I should be talking to my aunt.

The next day Message Delivery Failures started to flood my inbox. I'm worried about those sent away that succeeded—there should have been hundreds, if not thousands!

And by the way, the email addresses that came "back" to me were unfamiliar to me. But how do I know that this scammer didn't have access to my contacts? He did it to me with my aunt's email address!
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Expert Comment

by:CompProbSolv
ID: 41789890
If the account has been compromised, I'd expect to see the bogus outgoing mail messages to appear in the Sent Mail folder.  Depending on whether POP is being used (as opposed to something that syncs such as IMAP or Exchange) it may only appear on the Sent Mail folder on the server (visible through the web interface).

If nothing appears in either Sent Mail folder (local or server), then I would agree that someone is spoofing your address.

In any case, it would be a reasonable thing to change your password as suggested above.
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Author Closing Comment

by:Anton Tajanlangit
ID: 41791602
Problem solved.
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