The bad news: You can't prevent this, short of never using your
e-mail address for any reason, ever.
The good news: You can probably cut off the person/people who are
spoofing your e-mail address at the knees by complaining to a few
places I will list at the end of the answer.
More bad news: It's not a permanent solution, and until we find a way
to completely eradicate spammers, we're kind of stuck with their
More good news: You *can* fight back.
You're the victim of what's known as e-mail spoofing. Spoofing is
when someone else forges their headers to make it appear that *you*
are the person sending spam. This is a common trick used among
spammers in an effort to cover their tracks:
"Email spoofing is the practice of changing your name in email so that
it looks like the email came from somewhere or someone else.
Spoofing is generally used by spammers as a first defense against
people finding out who they are. It's also used by general malcontents
to practice mischievous and malicious behavior."
What is Email Spoofing?
Most people don't even realize they're being spoofed until they get an
angry letter from someone demanding that they cease spamming, or they
open their e-mail and find a dozen messages advertising Viagra or
Super! Breast! Enlargement! Now! with their own e-mail address as
the sender. Spammers count on the receipients of their mail to *not*
pay attention to headers - but this is where you can track them down
and stop them, at least for a little while. Hotmail can't help you
unless the spam is being sent via their servers, but there are a
number of other organizations that can. I'm going to explain spam
reporting procedures for each.
First, how does one determine whether the spam is being sent through
Log into Hotmail, select OPTIONS, then, under ADDITIONAL OPTIONS,
select MAIL DISPLAY SETTINGS. In MESSAGE HEADER, tick the FULL radio
button, save the changes, and go to your Inbox. At the top of your
messages, you'll see something that looks like this:
Received: from usanationalalcreditcardredctionallinaceassociation.net
([184.108.40.206]) by mc4-f25.law16.hotmail.com with Microsoft
SMTPSVC(5.0.2195.5600); Mon, 2 Dec 2002 22:02:20 -0800
X-OriginalArrivalTime: 03 Dec 2002 06:02:20.0248 (UTC)
Those are full headers, and you need them in order to report spam and
find out where it's coming from. Check them carefully. If you find
an X-originating-IP line in the message header, forward the entire
message, including the full headers to email@example.com .
Additionally, you can report that you're being spoofed:
"To report impersonation
Forward the message that impersonates you, with full routing
information, to firstname.lastname@example.org, along with a statement denying any
involvement with the message. If you don't have a copy of an e-mail
message impersonating you, send a detailed explanation of why you
think you're being impersonated."
Report Harassment, Threats and Impersonation - Hotmail Help
Hotmail will track down the originating sender and file a complaint
with their ISP. ISPs typically shut down the accounts of spoofers
upon receiving a complaint.
Additionally, if the spam is not coming from a Hotmail account, you
can file a complaint with the originating ISP with the help of Julian
Haight's SpamCop service. SpamCop offers free and paid accounts, both
of which include header tracing and abuse reporting:
By pasting the entire e-mail, including the full headers, into
SpamCop's reporting mechanism, the origin of each piece of spam is
traced (you can view the full technical information when you do this)
and a complaint is automatically sent to the spammer's ISP.
If you'd rather not register for a free SpamCop account, you can use
UXN Spam Combat, which offers a step by step header tutorial and spam
"TRACING SPAM - Who do I complain to?
Complain to the ISP the spam was sent from, the ISP whose server it
passed through, the ISP of any web site advertized in the spam, and
the ISP of any "dropbox" email address you find in the spam body that
the spammer wants replies or 'removes' sent to."
UXN Spam Combat
For more information about how to fight back against spammers, I've
assembled a list of anti-spam resources for you:
Mail Abuse Prevention Systems
Fight Spam On The Internet
The Email Abuse FAQ
Reading E-Mail Headers
...and one of the best places to go for help and information:
news.admin.net-abuse.email, populated by helpful e-mail admins from
many ISPs. If you're stuck, they'll help, and you can access the
group through regular Usenet means, or through Google Groups
(warning: sometimes the spammers show up to taunt the admins. It
gets fiery, but lurking is very educational):
NANAE, via Google Groups
I hope you find this information helpful. If you need further
assistance, please don't hesitate to ask. I'll be glad to help.
Search terms: None. Five years of lurking on NANAE and a host of