Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Email addresses are tied to domain names. It's possible that the domain name has a catch-all. I explore what that means.

Can an email be sent to a non-existent email address? By mistake, I sent an email to another domain which included my personal info. I have verified that the email doesn't exist. Is there any issue that one can access my information, like the domain holder?

In this excerpt from Answercast #9, I explore how email addresses work, how they are attached to domain names, and the circumstances where an email has no chance of going through.

Does the domain name exist?

The short answer is, "There's really no way to know." The fact that an email address doesn't exist, doesn't necessarily mean that somebody won't read it.

The first thing that I would do is to find out if the domain is even real. If the domain typo exists as a domain and is owned by somebody, then it is possible that mail to a non-existent email addresses on that domain gets routed to a catch-all address or email inbox.

It's unusual. Typically, there's no point in setting up a catch-all because those email boxes get full of spam. But, to be 100% certain (or to give you an answer that's totally honest), it is possible that email to a non-existent address on a valid domain could end up in somebody's inbox.

No domain... no problem

Now, if the domain doesn't really exist (in other words, you look up the domain registration for it on a site like DomainTools.com and nobody owns it yet), then you're fine. That means that the domain is not in use, it's not associated with any servers; it's not going to be handling mail at all. And you should be just fine.

Don't rely on there being a website or there not being a website. If you go to foo.com and there's no website in your browser, that does not mean that the website isn't registered and isn't being used only for email.

Use a registration tool like DomainTools.com to see if the domain has been registered and is owned by somebody.

Only if it's not are you completely safe.

Next - Somebody knows my IP address and is sending bad emails. Can you help me close my account?

Article C5205 - April 14, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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