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Why am I getting instant messages from people I don't know?


Today when I turned on my computer, there was a IM from someone I didn’t
recognize. I closed it as I figured it was just someone up to no good. I always
thought you had to get the permission before someone would accept instant
messages from you. My son has seen this also. Do you think this was someone
that knew us both? Or do you think it’s trouble brewing? I’ve never heard of
this before.

Is it someone who knows you? Probably not. Trouble brewing? Perhaps.

But it’s trouble that’s easily avoided.

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It’s certainly possible to accept IMs only from people who you know. However
not all instant message programs are configured that way by default. When
they’re not so configured, then anyone can IM you. Anyone at all.

Why might a total stranger IM you? Usually it’s to entice you into something
more serious. Much like spam or email viruses there are people, and automated
computers, that are trying to sell you things, get you to download malicious
software, or get you to visit web sites which in turn infect your machine with

The first thing to do is exactly what you and your son both did: close the
IM window from people you don’t know. Never respond.

You might be tempted to use your IM program’s “block” feature to prevent
that person from IM’ing you again, and you certainly can. It won’t hurt, it
just won’t help much. They’ll simply, eventually, keep IM’ing you from
different accounts.

“The right thing to do is to only accept IMs from people
you know.”

The right thing to do is to only accept IMs from people you know. Change
your IM program’s configuration so that only people you’ve added to your
contacts or allow list are allowed to IM you.

In Windows Live Messenger (8.1) click on Tools,
Options, and then click on the Privacy

Windows Live Messenger privacy settings

Simply click on “Only people on my Allow List can see my status and send
mess messages”. If that is unchecked, anyone can IM you.

Similarly, with AIM (6.0), click on Edit,
Settings, and click on the Privacy

AIM Privacy Settings

Make sure that “Allow only users on my Buddy List” is checked.

In Trillian, privacy settings are per-account. For example, the privacy
settings for an MSN Instant Messenger account configured in Trillian might look
like this:

Privacy settings for MSN Instant Messenger in Trillian

Be sure that “Only people on my Allow List can see my status and send me
messages” is checked.

There are too many other instant messaging programs to list here, but the
idea is the same in each: locate the privacy settings associated with the
account you’re using, and make sure it’s configured to reject IMs from people
you don’t know.

Do this

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1 thought on “Why am I getting instant messages from people I don't know?”

  1. I’m not sure when this article was posted but I’m finding lately that the “only people on my allow list can see my status and send me messages” option is not working.. It’s set but just now i logged in to have 5 messages from different accounts all saying “guess what??” Guess what? I thought to myself.. SPAM.. but why is messenger no longer blocking it.. a hole in the messenger protocol?


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