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Can People Track My Email Address Location?

It’s not easy or obvious, but sometimes it’s possible if you don’t take care

Email Address Points Here?

Email addresses can be used to locate public information, which could allow someone to track your location from your email address. Use caution when sharing it with someone you don't trust.
I was on a dating site & I received a message from a lady & she gave me her email address so we could talk privately in which I emailed her back. Now that she knows my email address, can anything bad or dangerous happen? Like a virus or having my account cleaned out? Can she track my email address location? My email is with Google.

It  depends on your own level of security savvy, as well as how you’ve used that email address in the past.

For example, you could just have given your email address to a spammer.

Unfortunately, that’s not the worst that could happen.

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TL;DR:

Using a throw-away email address is the best way to protect yourself when dealing with someone unknown. Sharing an email address can result in more spam, but doesn’t reveal your location explicitly. Public records with your email address, however, can expose that and much more, often with a simple search. And of course, always be skeptical of links and attachments from someone you don’t completely trust.

Next time

This situation calls for a “throw away” email address.

Go create a new one at one of the free email services, like Gmail, Outlook.com, Yahoo, or others, and give that email address to the person you’re contacting but don’t quite trust.

That way, you can give them your “real” email address once they gain your trust. If they violate your trust, you can simply discard the “throw away” address.1

All the while protecting yourself.

Protecting yourself from what?

Spam

Spam is the most obvious result. It’s quite possible you’ll get more spam as a result of sharing your email address with someone you’re not sure of.

The interesting thing about using this as a way to harvest email addresses is while it seems very labor intensive, the spammer also has a much more targeted idea of what you’re interested in, making your email address that much more valuable.

Privacy

Enter your email address into a search engine or two.2

If personal information about you shows up in the results, then anyone with your email address can perform the same search and get the same information.

This isn’t the search engine’s fault. It’s simply indexing publicly accessible information on millions of websites. Your email address and associated information happens to be posted publicly somewhere, and thus appears in the results.

Location

Your location is not a characteristic of your email address, so no, people cannot track your email address location directly. Particularly for services like Gmail and Microsoft’s Outlook.com, that information is kept private.

However, there are two rather stunning exceptions:

  • If you’ve allowed it to be public. For example, social media profiles are often publicly accessible, and thus anyone can see them. Any information you’ve included — including your location — is visible if you’ve allowed your profile to be public.
  • If your email address is associated with your location in some other publicly available document. The biggest example might be public records. It’s easy to forget that many routine government and service agency documents are explicitly part of the public record and visible to anyone, and could potentially allow someone to track your email address location.

Exactly how easy it would be to find this information varies. Some will appear in simple search engine searches. Some may require more direct investigation and access by a sufficiently motivated seeker.

Malware

When it comes to malware and data loss, the news is fairly good in that you are ultimately in control. The bad news is that it doesn’t matter what email address that you use.

Let me ask you this: if your new-found contact emailed you an attachment, would you open it?

If you answered “yes”, then you could have just accepted and installed malware on your machine that could wipe it out, steal your account password(s), or who knows what else. In other words, you are definitely at risk if you aren’t paying attention.

For the same reasons, I’d also be wary of visiting websites you don’t recognize suggested by this person.

Politely decline ’em all. If the person is legitimate, they’ll understand. If they insist, get angry, or threaten to leave, that’s a sign that perhaps all isn’t what it seems (or that they need to read this article).

Making contact over the internet

This advice applies to more than just dating sites.

Any contact you make that is initially and only over the internet entails a certain amount of risk. The person may not be who they say they are. They may have malicious intentions. Until you can build a sufficient level of objective trust, it’s best to avoid sharing your “real” email address and view everything with a healthy dose of skepticism.

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Footnotes & References

1: Most easily done by just ignoring it. Don’t log in to it ever again, and eventually it’ll disappear.

2: Harder than it sounds, since most search engines ignore punctuation. At this writing, using duckduckgo.com and putting your email address in quotes — “leo@askleo.com” — seems to work.

4 comments on “Can People Track My Email Address Location?”

  1. when one googles ones email handle.if you do not like what one sees,how does one eradicate the information?

    Short version: you don’t. Longer version: you contact the websites on which your information is appearing and hope that they will honor your request to remove it. Most do not, hence the short version. More here: How do I remove myself from the search engines?.

    Leo
    04-Oct-2011

    Reply
  2. @pirate-com
    It’s near to impossible to remove google results as what you are seeing are posts in various websites that google has indexed. The only possibility is to contact each website, one by one, and ask that they remove the offending entries.

    Reply
  3. Leo wrote:

    “Any contact that you make that is initially and only over the Internet entails a certain amount of risk. The person may not be who they say they are. They may have malicious intentions.”

    The absolute and ultimate in this sort of riskiness, that you can actually witness, involves children, and can be viewed weekly on MSNBC’s infamous Dateline series, “To Catch A Predator” &nbsp starring Chris Hansen.

    It should be pretty obvious that the Perverted Justice  decoys who play the part of the young teenagers must actually do and say things that real  kids are known for actually doing and saying online, because otherwise the online predators would “catch on” to them pretty quickly. What this means, in turn, is that many of the chatlogs available on the Perverted Justice  website can make for very  unnerving reading. Do you  know the sorts of things that some  kids have been willing to discuss online? With complete strangers? You might be surprised (to say the very least)!

    And, could your  own kids be among the “naughty” ones? (That’s a question that only you  can answer!)

    I don’t want to get too  far off-topic here, nor rant too long, so let’s just end this posting this way: an E-Mail address may be your least  concern regarding the divulgement of information. Especially if you’re a kid.

    Reply
  4. I have a disposable email address that I’ve been using for years. I opened it with the idea that if it begins to get too much spam, I’ll close it. This hasn’t happened yet not even in my spam folder. I think it’s because it’s a Yahoo account and a lot of the spam sent to it is blocked before it ever makes it into the spam folder. So, I’d recommend Yahoo as a “permanent” throwaway account. Google and Outlook.com would probably work similarly. I also have a semi-disposable account for newsletters and mailing from sources which I consider trustworthy. This is to keep my real email account for emails I consider important.

    Reply

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