You can’t control them. Here’s what you can do proactively.
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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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 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 telling everyone from whom you want email to change how they contact you. Some 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 unwanted attention to you.
Automate ignoring them
A more pragmatic solution is to automatically ignore them. Set things up so you never have to see the email they send you.
Most email clients have the ability for you to set up rules or filters that 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 (an app) doesn’t have rules or filtering built in, you might check with your email provider (a service). Many offer web-based access that 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 become aware of it depends on your particular email provider).
There are serious drawbacks to this approach, since a lot of legitimate email 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.
This approach turns you into a spammer1, and is likely to make the person at the other end more angry and determined to cause you problems.
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.