How do I find out who owns a Hotmail account?

Finding out who owns a Hotmail account is nearly impossible.

//

I keep getting “strange” emails from someone using a Hotmail account. How do I find out who they really are?

Hotmail is one of the most used (and abused) mail systems on the planet. One of the reasons why is because it’s nearly impossible to tell who really owns a Hotmail account.

There are situations where I believe it’s possible to find the owner of a Hotmail account, but it’s difficult and you won’t like what it takes.

First, let’s look at why it’s so hard to determine the owner of a Hotmail, Yahoo, GMail … or any free email account for that matter.

Sign up for one and as you’re doing so, lie. Lie about everything. I mean make up every last bit of information that Hotmail asks you for when you create an account. Make sure it’s all completely bogus. When you’re done, you’ll have a working Hotmail account that has no information that would relate to you in any way. None.

So if someone creates a Hotmail account this way, there’s no way to tell who they really are from the account information, because like you just did, they could have just made it all up.

HackerThere’s one, small, thin thread of information that might give a clue, however: the IP address from which the account was created. And it may not help at all. Why? An IP address does not specify a name or a location, only a computer. The IP address could change, it could be a router or proxy server for thousands of users or the computer could be a public computer, such as those at a library. And, of course, you’d need the folks out at Hotmail to tell you what IP address had been used.

The upshot is that an IP address is not a way for normal folk like you and me to identify anyone. And as such an IP address is useless to you and me to identify a Hotmail account owner.


And as such an IP address is useless to you and me to identify a Hotmail account owner.

If, and it’s a big if, an IP address could be traced to a specific user or location, it requires the cooperation of the ISPs and perhaps others involved. Due to privacy laws, ISPs will not divulge this information to anyone without a good reason. And “a good reason” usually means that a) the account was used for something illegal, b) you involve law enforcement, and c) they then turn around and get a court order to have the ISP or other entities release the information – if the information is even available.

Remember also that many spammers and viruses masquerade as email coming from Hotmail accounts. Even if you could track down the owner of the account, they might not even have been involved.

The practical answer is no, you cannot tell who owns a Hotmail account.

So what do you do?

If you’re receiving harassing, threatening, or otherwise potentially illegal email, then by all means, involve the appropriate authorities.

Otherwise, the Delete key is your friend. My approach would be to delete the mail immediately and ignore it completely. If your email program supports it, I’d even create a rule to automatically delete the mail from that account as it arrives or blacklist it on my spam filter.

There are 68 comments:

  1. Darren Beddard Reply

    please could you see if a friend has still got an hotmail account her name is ester her second name is i think is novalovach she lives in prague and the last time i spoke to her she asked me to email her but i lost her address could you email her and give her my email address im sure she will email asap as ive missed her

    shes sbout 26 now blonde hair and works as an aupair

    i would be gratefull if you could try and help me thankyou very much

    Darren

  2. chris Reply

    i have met an amzing girl on holiday but stupidly lost all her contact details. i know her name and address but she is under 18 and not in the hotmail directory is there any way of finding her hotmail address

  3. Leo Reply

    Nope. If they’re not in the directory, finding someone is extremely difficult if not impossible.

  4. shane Reply

    You guys are all lamers! holy CRAP, think for yourselves u MORONS, read, research, learn and stop asking such ~stupid~ questions. – “can you find my friend” – “this person is bothering me”.- “how do i change this” – Almost every single question asked here can either be found ON this website, ON the hotmail site, OR with commen sence (not so commen i guess). If i was admin id have your IP’s banned for asking such crap. Thats my 2 cents.

  5. Kevin Reply

    I would like to find a out if my friend has a hotmail account. All I have is a name, is this even possible? Could u please help me?

  6. Leo A. Notenboom Reply

    I know of no way to find a person on Hotmail with only their name.

    Remember, they may simply not use there name in their hotmail registration, or there could be 100′s of people with the same name, or they may not have a Hotmail account at all.

    Best you just ask your friend.

  7. panzar Reply

    Watch out, trying to access peoples email addresses via searching the real name, it does not work, its impossible.

    Also doing that makes your browser catch open to viruses, such as malware…

  8. coolshades Reply

    i have a hotmail account and regularly correspond with another hotmail user.

    a week back i received an offensive email from an unknown person having a hotmail account.

    when i traced the IP using the advanced header option in hotmail, i found that my contact and this person had the same X-IP sender’s address.

    i am shocked and wondering if the same ip address can be shared by two different people

    please advise

  9. Leo Reply

    Certainly. Sometimes all computers for a single corporation “appear” as a single IP address on the internet. More commonly homes with multiple computers that use a router all appear as the same IP address. (I have seven or eight machines here – yet they all appear as a single IP on the internet).

    So it really depends on the specifics of the IP and how your friend connects to the internet. But it’s possible.

  10. alex Reply

    How can i find an old friend? is there a way to type the first and last name to find it? Please show how

  11. sarah Reply

    how can i find an old friend’s hotmail email address??????????please help asap..

  12. Jordi Reply

    I am looking for the the email address of an old friend. Her name is Marissa O’hare. She used to live in London and working for Cnet Networks (marissa.ohare@cnet.com)This email is not working any more. How can I get her email? Thank you

  13. stefane Reply

    i lost contact with a few of my friends abroad who were using hotmail accounts how do i trace their new addresses?they lived in india and i have their full names only and past hotmail address

  14. Leo Notenboom Reply

    Sharon: that’s a legal question, and I’m no lawyer. You’ll need to consult with your attorney.

  15. Tracy Reply

    I read the …how do i find out who owns a hotmail account….it tells about the lying when signing up but it doesn’t tell how to find out…lies or not please let me know how to find out
    thanks

  16. Leo A. Notenboom Reply

    Then you apparently missed this sentence from the article:

    “The practical answer is: no, you cannot tell who owns a Hotmail account.”

  17. Zeina Reply

    I am looking for Ayman Slim, I know he uses hotmail…is there a way to search hotmail to find an account attachted to this name so I can email him

  18. Mr Warwick Reply

    Someone i work with has set up an email account with hotmail and is using it to send malicious emails about employees to other companies regarding supposed illegal practices. It is causing distress to several work employees. Is there anyway to try and track it at all?

  19. Jazmin Reply

    Hi. My friend, Francisco Benavides has a hotmail address how do i find out what it is?

  20. marta Reply

    hi, I’d really like to know if I can find someone’s e-mail adress if I have all the details about them. Please help me I’m desperate!

  21. Michel Van Limbergen Reply

    Hello, I am trying to find out if the following Email address belongs to Michael John Raguso:
    [email address removed]. For now nobody can tell me this or help me in this.

    Kind Regards

    Michel Van Limbergen

  22. Leo Notenboom Reply

    —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
    Hash: SHA1

    That’s not possible, outside of emailing him and asking him.

    Reminder: NEVER post an email address in a public forum. Read the instructions
    here before posting.

    Good luck!

    Leo
    —–BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE—–
    Version: GnuPG v1.4.6 (MingW32)

    iD8DBQFGB/uHCMEe9B/8oqERAlY/AKCAqtrn8FkKNImdk7ZEvgL/Zg6lpACgiZ3k
    kMjiFgsFmXnnCRAHKMGeqCQ=
    =rGRg
    —–END PGP SIGNATURE—–

  23. Jeri Reply

    There are a few websites with which you can look up an IP address and find out about its owner, location, and ISP (Internet Service Provider).

    I recommend iptwister.stormloader.com [ http://iptwister.stormloader.com ].

    You can use it to submit information about IP addresses that you find in an advanced email header, as well as look up information relating to an IP address.

    It’s very simple and easy to use. Good luck!

    - J.

  24. Ryan Reply

    I have been receiving harrassing emails from a hotmail account. I have emailed abuse@hotmail.com as to notify them about it. However I want to do some investigating on my own part. The problem is that I copied the emails through outlook from one account to another for safe keeping. They emailed my work address and I wanted to remove the malicious emails from my work computer so I transferred the info to my hotmail account by a simple click and drag. Is there a way to get the original header information back? Thanks

  25. Charbel Reply

    I have a hotmail account that I know, he’s my friend, and I think that he have made another one to do a prank on me :P, can I check the IP of the two accounts and see if they’re identical or not, so that I can make sure if the other account belongs to my friend or not??

  26. Polish kid !! Reply

    Hi LEO i got this problem that might seem pretty wired. I’m from poland and this girl from chicago visited my town we meet and had a great time. I had her email written in my cell phone but it got stolen. I sort of remebered it so i wrote an email to her but it said that it doesn’t exist. And my problem is that i might’ve got it wrong. So is there a way to check any possible combinations af the email becouse i know for sure that most of it i remebered right but it contains numers at the end and i might’ve got thouse wrong. Can You help me ?!

  27. Louise Sturla Reply

    I met a guy a few years back on holiday and would like to get back in touch. All i know is his first name, and the main part of his email address. Problem is, I think there were some numbers after the main name in the address – is there anyway of looking at a list to see if anything crops up??

  28. DG Reply

    Here are some free people and email address search resources :

    http://www.anywho.com
    http://www.people.yahoo.com
    http://www.whitepages.com

    Or find the person through military, college or professional affiliations :
    http://www.militaryconnections.com – for military personnel
    http://www.facebook.com – finding college students.

    Or search by the high school attended :
    http://www.classmates.com
    http://www.reunion.com

    To read more on :

    1. What email address trace and reverse email lookup is
    2. 5 Tips on how to find someones email address, or email lookup.

    http://www.squidoo.com/how-to-find-someones-email-address/

  29. michele Reply

    hi leo i met this guy on the train who has a hotmail account and i know the screename but not the numbers at the end is there anyway i can search all the combinations of the email adress on hotmail?

  30. Leo A. Notenboom Reply

    —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
    Hash: SHA1

    No.

    Leo

    —–BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE—–
    Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)

    iD8DBQFGtz9XCMEe9B/8oqERAoVQAJ9JBdOyc4vhK0HucVKO/isC4hCDMgCeNpSS
    AB82ckZ5+TLmTmHCX5vCx/U=
    =+nOL
    —–END PGP SIGNATURE—–

  31. Geannie Reply

    How do I find out who owns a hotmail addy that is stealing money from my real life bank account?

  32. Leo A. Notenboom Reply

    —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
    Hash: SHA1

    You contact the police.

    Leo

    —–BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE—–
    Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)

    iD8DBQFGwL1yCMEe9B/8oqERArQ1AKCAQv7aFDRFt8zEeQs0oU6qgyDnSACdHaX5
    /bYYi7oB4MoUQ6dRW8DUvwU=
    =ghyb
    —–END PGP SIGNATURE—–

  33. Samuel Rondeau Reply

    Hello Leo!!
    I read your article, it seem impossible to find someone by his email adress. But I really want to find back his information what could I do?? His email is now desactivate for 3 years now, I was not able to respond to her and her adress is inactive now..

    All I have is her first name, her email adress, and some basic information like her puppet name and her badminton racket name and the name of the shop she was working but I dunno where because there are a lot other store like the one she was working..

    So, if I was able to find his informations with his email and have his last name it would be wonderful.. and I have all the emails which we correspond..
    I would give you a lot of beer lol..

    Thanks anyway..
    Sam

  34. Leo A. Notenboom Reply

    —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
    Hash: SHA1

    No beer for me.

    You can try this article:
    http://ask-leo.com/how_do_i_find_someones_email_address.html
    but I believe it’s a lost cause.

    Leo

    —–BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE—–
    Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)

    iD8DBQFGzyqfCMEe9B/8oqERAijGAJ4mvQrPTgD6mdkB3GucdrPTtY+xwwCgjQ64
    A/tjMIZ1Vycwi+XABO/bmOg=
    =epxD
    —–END PGP SIGNATURE—–

  35. avril Reply

    hi, i am the member of a family site, to which we all have our own individual pages. recently i got a pendin friends request and a name i recognised i therefore accepted only to find that the profile was completely made up but contained a few pics of a real friend of mine. the parson who created the fake profile had incorrect and nasty information on there about my friend and had altered the pics of her, they had also joined her to a group of transvestites that dont exist. this is an arguement that has spilled over from another site in which i have contact with my friend. hope this is makin sense so far, anyway, as this is a family site and the pics and information were inappropriate i blocked and deleted the profile. reported it to the site in question and also informed my friend what had happened. i have the email address that was used to create the fake profile but cant seem to get anywhere when tryin to find out who this person or persons really are.
    can u help.
    would appreiciate an email back.
    x

  36. malaka Reply

    if we knw the email addree(hotmail) can we find out the ip addressof the account and the actual computer tht has been used to create the account??? i really need to find out abt this as one of my friend has been threatened by someone!!! plz.. thank you!!!!!

  37. Leo Reply

    —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
    Hash: SHA1

    Nope. If you’re being harassed, contact the authorities.

    Leo

    —–BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE—–
    Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)

    iD8DBQFIOZYFCMEe9B/8oqERAr6uAKCEbS7fr5wnHhUpS7HxsHoHv5IIpQCeP5Ol
    s+JjXW+tXmdqCbk8OO7axP8=
    =6Upp
    —–END PGP SIGNATURE—–

  38. ch Reply

    Hi, i belive that this info is wrong, you can find out the ip, the ip can tell you the location of the computer. and if it is from a library you could check the time you got the mail and hope that the library can tell you who sat at the computer at that time. in some librarys (in swe) you have to tell those who work there your name before you sit down at a computer.

    As I’ve said over and over and over again, unless you are the police with a court order an IP address will NOT tell you the physical location of a computer.

    -Leo

  39. Ben Diaz Reply

    As I’ve said over and over and over again, unless you are the police with a court order an IP address will NOT tell you the physical location of a computer.
    -Leo

    There’s actually a way to find the location of a computer based on Ip address, for free, without being an authority or acquiring a court order, getting at least where the computer is connecting to (which ISP and where in the world it is) by going to http://www.ip2location.com/free.asp and putting the IP address that you got from the email header (which should be viewed in full details).

    Which ISP will get you maybe as close the city, and often only as close as the country. It will not tell you exactly where the computer is. You will not get an address, you will not get a name and you will not get a phone number.

    Specifically, ip2location above is 15 miles wrong for my IP address. In a populated area that narrows my location down to one of a few hundred thousand households.

    -Leo

  40. JL Reply

    I tried this. Said I was in Germantown, Maryland, -I’m in Illinois. But, it did get my provider right.

  41. steph Reply

    I just found out that my husband was cheating. How can I find out if he has e-mail addresses that I don’t know about (example, Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo, etc.)? For some reason I think this person and him are still in contact, but I need to prove it first. I really hope that you can help me. I just need to find somehow that I can search by whatever means to see if there’s any e-mail addresses out these established with the same info.

    Your question boils down to how do I find out someone’s email address? The short answer is that you don’t. If a person doesn’t want their email address to be found, it’s nearly impossible to determine if they have one, or what it might be.

    IMO, your only real hope is if your husband is using a computer you have access to, in which case you could take it to someone who’s good at computer forensics to see if he’s left traces on it. Naturally this’d probably cost money.

    -Leo

  42. Steve Reply

    I know what the IP address for my personal computer is. There seems to have been a hotmail account created in my name. Can I find out what computer it was created on? I want to know if it is connected to my personal computer.

    No. Please read the article you just commented on.

    - Leo
    09-Dec-2008
  43. jawanzal Reply

    FYI… IP addresses change all of the time. ISPs no longer honor static IP addresses to the general pop. The only thing that is truly static is your MAC address. Today your IP address could be one number, and tomorrow, it could be something totally different. Just FYI

  44. Jennifer Sturtevant Reply

    Hey I was writing to find out about an add request I got and the emial address is
    [email address removed]
    I need to find out is this really a person or is it spam. I don’t want to accept unless it is someone I know. Is there a way to find out if this is spam or not? thanks jen

  45. Seesan Reply

    I want to find out email address of a person who lives in India.How do I do it? His email address is with Hotmail. That I know

  46. David L. Burkhart Reply

    Thanks, Leo. Great work on the article. And I like the tip jar idea, especially the “Buy Leo a Latte!” slogan. I’ll think about it.

    I know this article was posted back in 2005, so to bring the future forensic scientists up-to-date, when investigating mail supposedly from a Hotmail, Live, or similar Microsoft e-mail address, look for “X-Originating-IP” in the mail headers. All of these accounts will generate it if the mail is actually sent thru them.

    Leo is right; you usually can’t find out specifics on the person or even the computer it was created on without assistance. However, political pressure has put some investigational committees to work on our behalf. So since our tax dollars are going to them whether we use them or not, if you want to respond to spam effectively, let’s learn how to use them.

    First of all, if you are receiving the legal form of spam (the kind that properly identifies who it’s from and how to stop receiving it) and you actually had some form of interaction with the company associated with it, simply unsubscribe. There will be instructions in the e-mail for how to do it.

    Now, to report the illegal spam, forward the spam to “spam@uce.gov”. And don’t forget to include all of the e-mail header information. For illegal Microsoft mail account related spam, forward it to “report_spam@hotmail.com” also.

    If you are feeling a little more agressive, you can usually report the illegal activity to the company controlling the server from which it came and, in instances involving Hotmail, to the ISP involved. First, determine the IP address of the mail server. This is usually the first IP address in the e-mail headers. Next, look up the “whois” information on the company that controls IP address; for example, copy and paste the IP address to the search box at “http://ws.arin.net/whois/”. The example doesn’t work 100% of the time, but is usually sufficient. A majority of results will be responsible enough to include an e-mail address for reporting unsavory practices, such as illegal spam. Just look for the word “spam” or “abuse” and forward the spam to that address, again being sure to include e-mail headers. Repeat the above process to report Hotmail spam to the ISP provider, this time using the IP address from the mail headers labelled “X-Originating-IP”.

    The more timely your reporting of illegal spam, the better chances the authorities involved have to do something about it.

  47. doyant Reply

    i have a question and i hope you can answer it , how can i get the e-mail address from :
    1-name user
    2-from my contacts networks

  48. Mandy Reply

    I want to find out who an email belongs to they emailed me using my name and now they won’t respond when i ask who it is please help I live in NSW Sydney!!

  49. Mitchelle Reply

    Help me, i need to find out whom a certain email address belong {removed by moderator}@hotmail.com

    Please read the article you just commented on. It answers this question.

    Leo
    17-Nov-2010

  50. Xasan maxamed {email address removed) Reply

    Is there aperson who can give me any address of hotmail.com because there is no any address i have my hotmail.com address is empty niether are i have friend who can help me

    • Mark Jacobs Reply

      Here’s the website for the outlook.com community forum it’s unlikely they’ll be able to help, but that’s all Microsoft offers for support.
      answers.microsoft.com

  51. Sanjeev shrama Reply

    Please help me in details of who own this email address {email address removed} . From where it was opened. Someone using this address to spoil my family life. This will be great help to me. Please email me at {email address removed}”

    • Mark Jacobs Reply

      It’s not possible to determine who owns an email address. You would have to go to the police to see if they can help you. If these people are harassing you illegally, the police might intervene.

Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article. Seriously. You'd be shocked at how many people make comments that prove they didn't.
  • Comment only on the article. If you have a new, unrelated question start with the search box at the top of the page.
  • Don't post personal information. Email addresses, phone numbers and such will be removed.

VERY IMPORTANT: because of a rise an comment spam that's making it through our filters any comments that do not add to the discussion - typically off topic or content-free comments - run a very high risk of being flagged as spam and removed.

If you have a new question unrelated to the article above, ask it on the Ask Leo! ask-a-question page.