You receive an e-mail from a customer -
requesting information on your products, price etc. or placing order.
Normally, you would like to find out more information about this
customer before parting with requested information, especially if
the information is of sensitive nature like price list, discount
There may be other occasions when you want to find out more information
about e-mail sender - for example, to locate the identity of a spammer
or someone whose identity is suspicious.
How do you go about it ? You only have an e-mail, which is perhaps
the easiest thing to acquire in the Internet.
Though Internet is anonymous - there are few tools with which you
may dig out some information about your customer before entering
into a negotiation. For example - if you receive an e-mail from
a 'customer' with US postal address but discover that the e-mail
has been sent from an African country - you know what to do !
Analysis of Given Details
Every e-mail has at least three distinct elements
- From: (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org)
- To: (e.g. email@example.com)
- Subject (e.g. Want to buy Your products)
The simplest test is to put the tail of sender's
e-mail address (e.g. www.whyme1234.com for firstname.lastname@example.org) in
your browser's window and check if there is a web-site at this URL.
If you find a valid and business like web-site at this URL - your
job becomes easier. One can dig out significant details from web-site
as also other sources. Please see Faida article - 'How to evaluate
a business web-site' for details.
However, if you can not find e-mail sender's web-site at URL - do
not jump to conclusion that the sender is phony. Lot's of people
use business e-mail address without web-site. In such cases, you
need to determine if this guy is one of them or is using an anonymous
web-based free e-mail, disguised as business e-mail. Your next task
is to find out ownership details of the domain name.
Tracing Owner of Domain Name
Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers
(ICANN) is the nodal agency that supervises registration of domain
names. Information on ownership of domain names can be located from
ICANN approved registrars, who maintain public access database (called
whois) on ownership of domain names.
Please visit such a whois (e.g. http://www.internic.net/whois.html)
and check ownership of domain name.
If the sender is using a business e-mail - the domain name should
be registered in sender's or his/her company's name.
When e-mail Sender Uses free web-based E-mail
What happens when the e-mail sender uses a web-based
free e-mail service (e.g. hotmail.com, yahoo.com, rediffmail.com
Well, you can still find information about the sender by analyzing
the e-mail header.
We shall discuss header analysis in next issue
Happy and Productive Surfing
Dr. Amit K Chatterjee
- Newsletter on Business Opportunties from India and Abroad
Vol: 5, Issue 10
; November 5' 2004
Dr. Amit K. Chatterjee
(Amit worked in blue-chip Indian and MNCs for 15 years in various
capacities like Research and Information Analysis, Market Development,
MIS, R&D Information Systems etc. before starting his e-commerce
venture in 1997. The views expressed in this columns are of
his own. He may be reached at email@example.com