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    Skiffy, the SFF Net Wizard

Frequently-Asked Question

Why do I get a bounce message from an email I never sent?

Skiffy says:

  1. A spammer may have guessed your password and is sending email through our servers using your account. As a precaution, you should change your password right away. Pick a password that is at least eight characters long, has capital letters and at least one numeral, and is NOT a dictionary word. Spammers have machines that can and do spend 24 hours a day trying to guess your password. Don't make it easy for them.

  2. A spammer may have used your email address for his spam, and you got the bounce. Mail servers are getting smarter about insisting that email come from real domains. This helps eliminate the getsome@sexypictures.now type of return address that's never intended to be used except to satisfy the requirement that mail has to come from someone. In the past, mail servers just checked for a return address, so spammers could (and did) put whatever they wanted there. Now that servers are checking for valid return addresses, spammers aren't using their own -- they're using yours. This lets them send all the spam they want while you get the complaints and bounces.

    Friendly little buggers, aren't they?

    There is absolutly nothing you can do about this. Until all servers start requiring authentication (and even then, unless other servers only accept mail that's been authenticated) the problem will continue.

    Fortunately, this minor form of identify theft doesn't damage your reputation. The headers clearly indicate that the email didn't originate with you. Some individuals may read the headers and think the mail came from you (or just reply with a nasty note without bothering to look at the headers), but organizations like SpamCop and all mail administrators won't be fooled.

  3. Someone to whom you've sent mail in the past, or who has your email address in her address book for any other reason, may have a virus/worm/trojan that sends out mail with forged headers drawn randomly from the address book.

  4. Some spammers send fake bounce messages to trick you into opening the email. Don't follow links sent to you in a bounce email.

  5. Some virus/worm/trojans send fake bounce messages, too. You click on the attachment to see what message bounced, and viola! you are now infected. Never open an attachment unless you know the sender and you were expecting it. And maybe not even then.

  6. You may have a worm that's sending mail from your computer without your knowledge or consent. You typically pick up these programs by running an executable attachment, or by browsing to an unsafe site with all the active-content doodads enabled. You should

    1. Turn off all scripting support (VBScript, JavaScript, JScript, Java, etc.)
    2. Get a virus checker like AVG or F-Prot or Norton Anti-Virus or McAfee.
    3. Update your virus checker definitions regularly
    4. Get and run Malwarebytes or Ad-Aware


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