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Can I find out where my email address has been used?

I want to find out what public sites my email address is attached to. Is there a website that I can go to, put my e-mail address
in, and have it scan and tell me if my email address was used on sites like MySpace or anything else that I have signed up for?

The short answer is no, there is no place to find out where or what sites are using your e-mail address for registration.

However, there is at least one interesting thing you can do to find out how your e-mail address is being used.

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One of the most powerful and interesting things you can do to find out if your email address is being used somewhere is simply
to Google it. You should do it every so often, and you’ll probably be surprised.

Every time you enter your email address into a web form or a comment field you run the risk of having that email address
published publicly on the web. In fact, in rare occasions, sites will use your registration information, including your email
address, as your signature when you post information. In any case, having your email address posted publicly on the web is simply a
way of getting more spam. As I’ve said before, you should never intentionally put your email address into a comment or other
posting, and you should avoid services that do it “automatically” for you.

“Every time you enter your email address into a web form or a comment field you run the risk of having that email address
published publicly on the web.”

You’ll note that in comments to articles on Ask Leo! while I ask for your email address to be able to contact you, I do
not actually publish your email address publicly.

A site that is designed properly with privacy in mind will never display an email address unless you explicitly instruct it
to. For example, there is simply no way to know what email addresses are associated with MySpace accounts. MySpace does a good
job of hiding, or rather keeping, the information of its members private, and in doing so prevents exactly what you’re looking for. In
fact, most sites that require email registration do the same.

But, the only way that I know of to find out if your email address is used on any given site is to attempt to use it. Perhaps ask
for a password reminder. If it works, then you’ll know not only that your email address is used on the site, but you’ll have your
password to access it once again. In some cases, sites will tell you right away if the email address cannot be found in their
records which also tells you that your email address isn’t there.

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6 comments on “Can I find out where my email address has been used?”

  1. What about if you have a site advertising your services, and you need to put your email address there? Is there no way to stop this being picked up and spammed?

    thnks

    k

    Reply
  2. To Kevin Carroll, re: needing to be contacted:

    In such cases, perhaps you can get away with a layer of indirection. Instead of putting your email address there, put in a small form allowing people to contact you. The form should be simple: just an email address to contact the person in question, and the message they want to send you.

    You can have the form direct all submissions to your email address (which you are not publishing, instead only the Web server knows it and directs form submissions to it), and can use the reply function of your email client to respond directly to the address claimed by the commenter, whose email is also not being published anywhere.

    You can probably hire any half-decent Web programmer to write this for you, and it does the desired job — keeping your email safe from prying eyes.

    Reply
  3. There are also websites which will convert your email address into a picture which can be read by a human but which will fool ordinary text scanning character recognition software.

    Reply
  4. Leo-a crazy chick hacked my hotmail account and stole some pictures of another female I’m friends with and then kept resetting my hotmail password and adding another friend of mine’s email to my account and basically pretending to be my friend doing this (my friend hasn’t used this account in years), my question is: is there any way to trace where this was all done from, location wise, i.e. crazy chicks residencem, cell phone, etc?

    Reply

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