How to Handle Email Spam From Yourself

David Murphy 05/31/2018. 7 comments
Tech 911 Email Spam Spoofing Help

In this week’s installment of Tech 911—our regular column that troubleshoots your most pressing tech questions (which you can and should send us here)—we’re taking a look at a classic issue with a peculiar twist: spam.

Nobody likes having an inbox full of crap, and most services nowadays are good at filtering out obvious messages you shouldn’t have to deal with, like those trying to extort you for money by teasing an even larger payout or those promising to increase the size of your chest and/or willie.

But what if the person responsible for sending out the spam you’re getting is... you? Lifehacker reader Karen writes:

Dear David:

I receive an overabundance of spam/junk email. Most, I block. However, the tricksters have found a way to send it, using my own email address as the return address. Since I can’t block my own email address, how can I find the true address they are being sent from, in order to block them? I use Outlook for my “business” email.

How to... block... yourself?

What’s happening here is that spammers are spoofing your email address in an attempt to bypass any kind of spam protection you have. Unfortunately, depending on how your business’ spam protections are set up, this is actually a decently effective trick. You didn’t provide a ton of details about what you do, but I think the first, best step is to go bug your IT team—if you have one—and get them to set up server-side rules that check to see if an email is being sent from outside your organization but using your organization’s domain as part of the sender’s (fake) email address.

That process isn’t really one I can speak to, as I’ve never done it, but your IT team should be able to set this up. Additionally, whoever is in charge of your business’ infrastructure will want to make sure they’ve set up SPF, DKIM, and/or DMARC, which are all ways you can help establish that emails being sent from your domain are authentic (and emails you receive that are seemingly from your domain, but really aren’t, are correctly marked as spam).

If you own your own domain and your business is a company of one, it’s worth exploring what documentation your web host has on these three protocols. Your host might be able to spell out how to set them up in an easy-to-understand fashion, which could give you a great tool in your fight against, well, your self-spam.

Without Outlook itself, make sure you’re using the program’s spam-fighting capabilities to their fullest. In my version of Outlook, I can access the junk mail filter by clicking on the Home tab and the tiny Junk shortcut (to the right of “New Email” and “New Items”).

In the drop-down menu that appears, click on Junk Email Options and make sure it’s on, first of all, and set to a level you’re comfortable using. Definitely go “low” at least; consider “high,” but you’ll want to check your Junk Email folder from time to time in case anything legitimate gets caught up in the filter. You can also set it up so that only email addresses or domains on a whitelist can make it into your inbox, but that probably won’t solve your “sent from myself” issue, as it sounds like you don’t necessarily want to block your own email address.

While I’m thinking about it, check your sent folder to make sure that you aren’t sending out this spam to, well, yourself. I doubt this is the case but, if so, that’s a whole new problem: one that involves changing your passwords, disabling access to third-party apps that you’ve tied to your email account, et cetera. (In short, you’ve been hacked somehow, and spammers are actually blasting email from your address.)

You can try installing a third-party app like Mailwasher to help you deal with your spam issues. I haven’t used this one myself, but the free version is worth investigating to see if it can actually help you cut down on spoofed emails.

If you’re still having issues, you can also try creating a new email alias at your company. Filter any messages that come from your “old” email address into the trash, and only use this new email when you’re meaning to send messages to yourself. It’s a crude workaround, but a simple one.

Finally, if you’re a team of one and you’re just using your webhost’s email capabilities to receive messages for your business, you might want to consider contacting them to make sure you’ve enabled any and all spam protection for your domain. You can also consider setting up a service like Google’s G Suite for your domain. It’ll cost you $5 monthly, but Google’s built-in spam-fighting capabilities are pretty formidable, and you’ll still be able to use Outlook to view your emails if you want.

Do you have a tech question keeping you up at night? Tired of troubleshooting your Windows or Mac? Looking for advice on apps, browser extensions, or utilities you can use to accomplish a particular task? Let us know! Tell us in the comments below or, better yet, email - Download Hi-Res Songs

1 Katy Perry

365 flac

Katy Perry. 2019. Writer: Zedd;Katy Perry;Caroline Ailin;Corey Sanders;Daniel Davidsen;Cutfather;Peter Wallevik.
2 5 Seconds Of Summer

Who Do You Love flac

5 Seconds Of Summer. 2019. Writer: Andrew Taggart;Talay Riley;Oak;Sean Douglas;Luke Hemmings;Calum Hood;Ashton Irwin;Michael Clifford;Trevorious;Zaire Koalo.

Happy flac

DEAMN. 2019.
4 Alec Benjamin

Let Me Down Slowly flac

Alec Benjamin. 2019. Writer: Alec Benjamin;Sir Nolan;Michael Pollack.
5 Ariana Grande

7 Rings flac

Ariana Grande. 2019. Writer: Ariana Grande;Richard Rodgers;TBHits;Njomza;Michael "Mikey" Foster;Kaydence;Tayla Parx;Scootie;Oscar Hammerstein II;Victoria Monét.
6 Brooks

Better When You're Gone flac

Brooks. 2019. Writer: David Guetta;Emma Lov Block;Ido Zmishlany;Jackson Foote;Jeremy Dussolliet;Brooks.
7 Bruno Mars

Please Me flac

Bruno Mars. 2019. Writer: J. White Did It;DJ White Shadow;Philip Lawrence;Bruno Mars;Cardi B.
8 Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike

Selfish flac

Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike. 2019. Writer: Victor Thell;Michael Thivaios;Maria Smith;Jeff Porcaro;Dimitri Thivaios;David Paich;Dan Book;Will Grands;ANGEMI.
9 Avril Lavigne

Dumb Blonde flac

Avril Lavigne. 2019. Writer: Mitch Allan;Bonnie McKee;Nicki Minaj;Avril Lavigne.
10 Halsey

11 Minutes flac

Halsey. 2019. Writer: Matt Schwartz;Halsey;Dominic Harrison;Brynley Plumb.
11 Mike Perry

Way Too High flac

Mike Perry. 2019. Writer: Dimitri Vangelis;Andreas Wiman;Sabrina Bernstein;Pär Westerlund;Mike Perry.

Pretend flac

CNCO. 2019. Writer: Luis Daniel Nieves;Diane Warren;Britten Newbill;Rykeyz;Lucky Daye.
13 Ariana Grande

Needy flac

Ariana Grande. 2019. Writer: Tayla Parx;TBHits;Victoria Monét;Ariana Grande.
14 Ariana Grande

Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I'm Bored flac

Ariana Grande. 2019. Writer: Kandi;Kevin "She'kspere" Briggs;Max Martin;ILYA;Savan Kotecha;Ariana Grande.
15 Armin Van Buuren

Lonely For You flac

Armin Van Buuren. 2019. Writer: Armin Van Buuren;Bonnie McKee;Eden XO;Benno De Goeij.
16 Icona Pop

This Is How We Party flac

Icona Pop. 2019. Writer: R3hab;Icona Pop.
17 Lauv

I'm So Tired flac

Lauv. 2019. Writer: Lauv;Michael Pollack;Troye Sivan;Leland;OZGO.
18 Normani

Dancing With A Stranger flac

Normani. 2019. Writer: Mikkel S. Eriksen;Tor Hermansen;Jimmy Napes;Normani;Sam Smith.
19 Hozier

Dinner & Diatribes flac

Hozier. 2019. Writer: Hozier.
20 Afrojack

Ferrari flac

Afrojack. 2019.


Son of Beaver
All the Birches Call Me Big Poplar

Suggested posts

Other David Murphy's posts