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How do I find out who owns a Hotmail account?

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

Hotmail (now Outlook.com) 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.

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Do it yourself

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

Sign up for a new Outlook.com account and as you’re doing so, lie. Lie about everything. I mean make up every last bit of information that it asks for when you create the account. Make sure it’s all completely bogus. When you’re done, you’ll have a working Hotmail account that has no easy-to-discover 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.

The IP address

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 Microsoft to tell you what IP address had been used. Which they won’t.

The upshot is that an IP address is not a way for folks 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.

If, and it’s a big if, an IP address could be traced to a specific user or location, it requires the cooperation of Microsoft, 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:

  • The account was used for something illegal.
  • You involve law enforcement.
  • Law enforcement is able to 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.

Practicality

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, mark spam or junk as spam or junk. Remember also that 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.

67 comments on “How do I find out who owns a Hotmail account?”

  1. 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

  2. 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?

  3. 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.

  4. 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…

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. Then you apparently missed this sentence from the article:

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

  10. 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

  11. 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?

  12. 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!

  13. 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

  14. —–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—–

  15. 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

  16. 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??

  17. 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 ?!

  18. Here are some free people and email address search resources :

    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.

    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/

  19. —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
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    You contact the police.

    Leo

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    =ghyb
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  20. 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

  21. 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

  22. 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!!!!!

  23. —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
    Hash: SHA1

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

    Leo

    —–BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE—–
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    =6Upp
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  24. 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

  25. 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

  26. 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

  27. 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
  28. 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

  29. 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.

  30. 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

  31. I find you to be a good teacher. Will you kindly tell me why the analysis of “(1)http://www.iplocation.net/ ” and “(2)http://whatismyipaddress.com/trace-email” differs. I have pasted (as per their instruction) the header into their finder box and the first one says the email in question comes from inside USA, while the other says it comes from Mauritia. I find http://whatismyipaddress.com/trace-email to be more logical. Am I correct. I wish you will time time to answer me. Thanks

  32. Is there really still no possibility to find out who is writing to you when you have got at least 50 e-mails and more from one hotmail address? I have been in contact with a person for over a year and in the end… he is not the person he said he was. He does not exist. His name is not correct. He does not work where he said he worked. And he freaks me out. I mean. He can say scary stuff. Police knows about it, but they still do not think it is dangerous. And it would take a looong time to get any information. But I live today and have my fears today……. Is there nothing I can do to get some information about this person? I have nothing…… because nothing was correct…..

    • The only way you would be able to get this information is with intervention from law enforcement and a court order. Since this is a legal and not a technical issue, you might want to contact a lawyer to find out your options.

  33. I’m getting some email from {email address removed}d@hotmail.com , can you please check who is the owner and from what location is the emails coming.

    • In that situation, I’d contact the police. Any attempt to solve this on your own can be very dangerous.

  34. i wanna get phone number of owner of this account for important issues with my icloud ID on my iphone ( {email address removed} )

  35. I met a woman online about 6+ years ago. Through time and physical visits she moved cross country, or so I thought, to live with me. After 3 months I felt a very awkward tension between us and ended it abruptly. Since then, I’ve been hacked to a point of a complete life change. Lost my hone, jobs, friends, family , and it hasn’t stopped completely yet. I’ve done my own “investigations ” with great results but it stops at the point of making it factual. I’ve taken legal steps and that’s a joke. I think she actually secretly purchased the house I lost. Without the next step I’m stuck. IP and geo locations could possibly be the key.

    • The only way that would work is by getting law enforcement involved as only they can get access to those records.

  36. I have a hotmail account address someone used pretending to be a lawyer, he sent slanderous lieing letters to my lawyer convinced my lawyer he was actually an adjuster when my lawyer wanted to know his role in my claim we never heard from him again, how do I track down who was behind that hotmail account, this person helped in damaging my case

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