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How Do I Stop Someone from Emailing Me?

Stop it. Just … stop it.

Sometimes you may want to explicitly keep someone from contacting you. Ignoring them is often simplest, but there are tools to help as well.
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How can I keep someone from contacting me in email or instant messaging?

Sometimes severing communication is an unpleasant necessity.

For personal or legal reasons, you may want someone to stop contacting you. The complication is that you’d like everyone else to be able to contact you as before.

We can’t control what other people do, but there are some ways we can either make it more difficult to be contacted, or automate ignoring the contact attempts.

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TL;DR:

How to stop someone emailing you

While it’s not possible to prevent someone from emailing you, there are several techniques to automatically discard the email when it arrives. Most pragmatic is to simply set up a rule or filter to automatically delete messages from a specific sender. Additional techniques range from treating it as spam to getting yourself a new email address.

A new email address

For email, the most radical solution to keep someone from contacting you is to change your address. Specifically:

  • Create a new email address or email account.
  • Begin using it as your primary email address.
  • Tell all your friends, businesses and acquaintances.
  • Don’t tell the person you’re attempting to block.
  • Stop paying attention to the old email address.

That’s a harsh solution, because as you can see, it means that you tell everyone from whom you want email to change how they contact you. And of course, some stragglers won’t get the message, and you’ll lose contact with them when you stop paying attention to that old email address.

And of course the person you’re blocking could discover your new address and resume their attempts.

Automate ignoring them

A more pragmatic solution is to automatically ignore them. Set things up so you never have to see the email that they send you.

Most email clients have the ability for you to set up rules or filters that will take action on an email message when it arrives. Set up a rule that says:

  • if the email message is from this person
  • then delete it immediately

The person can continue to send you email all they want, but you’ll never see it, and they’ll never hear anything back.

If your email client doesn’t have rules or filtering built in, then you might check with your email provider. Many offer web-based access which often includes rules or filtering as well. By setting up a filter directly with your provider, the email you filter out will never even be downloaded to your computer.

Accept email from your address book only

As another more draconian measure, many email services and some mail clients have a spam filtering option that allows you to reject email that isn’t from an address already in your address book. You’ll accept email only from people you know. Set that up and remove this person’s email address from your address book, and their email will be rejected (whether or not they hear about it depends on your particular email provider).

There are serious drawbacks to this approach, since there’s often a lot of legitimate email that arrives from addresses you don’t know beforehand, such as confirmations of online purchases or other business correspondence. Heck, it could be someone you just met but haven’t yet added to your address book.

But it can be an extreme solution.

Treat it like spam

If much of what I’ve just described sounds familiar, it should; these are like many techniques used to fight spam. Fighting spam is, when you think about it, all about keeping someone from contacting you.

In both cases, you’re receiving unwanted email. The only difference is that in this case, you know exactly who’s sending it.

So as a last resort, you could just mark the unwanted email as spam. Eventually your spam filter should “learn” that email from this person is unwanted and filter it automatically for you.

The downside is that you’re telling the spam filter that “email from this person is spam” – which may prevent that person’s mail from being delivered to others as well.

Do not: reply

In some situations folks are tempted to automate a reply to the person (or spammer) they’re attempting to block.

Do. Not. Do. This.

It turns you into a spammer1, and is likely to only make the person at the other end more angry and determined to cause you problems.

Don’t.

Do this

There’s no way to prevent someone from emailing you if they know your email address. However you can take steps, such as using message rules or filters, to ensure you never see the messages they send.

Do that and get on with your life.

Here’s one I hope you don’t block: Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

Footnotes & References

1: Literally. In the worst case scenario your email provider could even see it as against their terms of service and cancel your account.

20 comments on “How Do I Stop Someone from Emailing Me?”

  1. I use the delete key, myself. Really, there’s very little else to be done in the common case.

    The irony is that these letters would stop completely shortly after they stopped working. But, sadly, enough people *still* fall for it that the spammers & scammers see it as worth continuing.

    Reply
    • Unfortunately, all it takes is for one person out of a million to fall for the the scam letter, and the scammer is ahead of his game. Darn that one person.

      John

      Reply
    • This person is stalking my husband and we are married and Natalie will not leave my husband alone on his email what should we do make her stop

      Reply
      • See the article you just commented on if you’re talking about email. If other things, then perhaps you need to talk to the police or other authorities.

        Reply
  2. What happens to SPAM emails that are filtered out of your account. Is there a delivery failure email to the sender or does it just delete the email and never inform the sender that you did not and will not receive any more emails from them?

    Reply
    • It’s just deleted. The sender is never informed. There is so much SPAM that sending delivery faillure messages to the senders may slow down the whole web. Also, the sender address is almost always forged, so, there is no use to send any message to the apparent sender…

      Reply
      • Plus, if the notice goes to an actual sender, he might be able to figure out that it’s a valid e-mail address, which makes your e-mail address more valuable for selling.

        Reply
  3. What happens to filtered spam depends on the email system and filtering solution. The *right* thing is to do nothing – just delete it. Any kind of response will tell the spammer that they;ve reached a valid email address, and will result in MORE spam, not less.

    Reply
    • I have this problem with a contractor that did me wrong and damage my house and I’m taking him to court he feels He don’t owe me for damages on my home I refuse to pay the last payment because of paying a contractor to do the remainder work that had to be done . Anyway he had my email and is having Adult Sexual Nude pictures on my phone sent to me saying sexual things very disgusting how do I get it to stop Block … it never happened until all this went down. He’s very sick .

      the things

      Reply
      • Read the article you are commenting it. It includes everything we have on the subject of blocking an unwanted sender.

        Reply
  4. somebody is sending me emails and i am not interested to read them or not BUT i want him to know that i am not receiving anything from him.
    could you help me please i really need him to know that i am not reading his mails.

    Reply
    • Set a filter to send a “Message has been automaticaly deleted” reply. Make sure that you make it absolutely clear that it’s an automated reply.

      Reply
  5. someone is harrasing me at my work’s e-mail also on my work cell. I know who it is but when I confronted this person they deny the phone calls & e-mails and now state that I hacked into their computer. I have printed all the e-mails. This has been going for for several years and need to put a stop to it as it is emotionally draining. Can I file charges against this person?

    I’m afraid I’m not a lawyer. You should contact one, or your local law enforcement to see what’s possible and practical.

    – Leo
    06-Oct-2008
    Reply
    • I discussed a similar situation with our local police. The officer told me to send them one more communication saying that I was legally requesting that he never contact me again. I went one step further, and in that message, said that the local police department sergeant told me to send this message to him. Be sure to keep a record proving when you sent the communication. In my case, since all of his contacts were by e-mail and by text message, I made my request by e-mail and sent a text to his phone asking that he read the e-mail. I kept copies of both messages.

      He did send three messages over the next two months, which I ignored, then he finally moved out of state. He probably realized that I was ignoring him, and knew that I had shown his threats to the police.

      The thing is that if it continues, you need to be willing to consult a lawyer. He knew that if I was willing to show the police, that I’d be willing to see a lawyer.

      Reply
  6. How can random people (or bots) continue to IM me on yahoo messenger even though I have it set to ignore anyone who is not on my contact list? This is the 3rd week of me receiving anonymous messages when I log in despite my “ignore” settings? Help would greatly appreciated.

    Reply
  7. I had a human resources woman, go into my gmail. Somehow anything from her is gone. I did not threaten her.
    I only stated my unhappiness with her hiring practices. Now all emails with her are gobe. Is this legal. I need them for discrimination court.

    Reply

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