It can be frustrating when you receive an email from someone you do not know. There are times when you simply do not recognize the email of a friend or colleague. There are also times when you receive unsolicited emails. The Federal Communications Commission states that it is illegal for companies to send you advertising and promotional emails unless you have authorized them to do so. There are ways to determine the owner of an email account you do not recognize.

Step 1.

Look through your email address books to be certain you are not forgetting someone’s email address. If someone emails you who does not contact you often, you may have forgotten their email address. This is not uncommon considering that billions of emails are sent and received each day throughout the world.

Step 2.

Copy the email address in its entirety if you still do not recognize the sender. Perform a Google search of the entire email address to see if you come up with any hits. You may discover who sent you the email address simply by searching for any details that come up on a search for that particular email address.

Step 3.

Use a free reverse email search. It is often possible to locate the email owner’s name by entering the email address into a search form. The odds of finding the owner’s name using a free search are even greater if they use Yahoo!, Hotmail or one of the other widely used and free email providers.

Step 4.

Consider using a fee-based service to locate the owner of an email account if you really must know who sent you an email. Please note that even when you use fee-based services, it is not always possible to locate the owner’s name.

Step 5.

Visit the website of the domain name for the email address if you believe it is an email from a business. For example, if you receive an email from, you should visit Search for contact information to see if you can find the name of the person who sent you the email. You can also contact the company directly to find out who sent you an email.

Step 6.

Reply to the email you received if you cannot easily find the owner’s name. In some cases, the email will be automatically generated and you will not be able to reach anyone. However, you may be able to send a note to the email address asking for further information as to why they are contacting you. Be forewarned, though--replying to a spam email can validate your email address to the spammer and thus encourage more spam.


Do not spend too much time looking for the owner of an email address. There will be times when you do receive spam email that you will not be able to trace to a particular person.