Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
People often send email to the wrong address by mistake. But what happens if the email address is invalid? There's no way to know what happens next.
I just sent an email from my MSN Hotmail account to the wrong email address. I am positive that the email I sent it to was wrong as I read it once it left and it asked if I wanted to add it to my contacts after I sent it! The @XXXX.com part of the address was my work. I am 100% certain that there is no one at work with that address. Please tell me where it could possibly have gone and is someone going to be able to read it??? I am really worried as it was quite personal.
You're not going to like this answer.
There's no way to know.
At least, not unless someone did get it, and then indicates to you somehow that they did.
Different email systems handle things differently.
Many things might happen to your misdirected email:
You may get a bounce indicating that the message was undeliverable. This is perhaps the best possible situation, as you know that it wasn't delivered to the mailbox you sent it too.
It may have been silently discarded. No human may ever have seen it, and you wouldn't get notification one way or another.
It may have been forwarded to a "catch-all" mail address. Many email servers have the ability to forward email that's sent to an invalid address to one central address. The idea, I suppose, is that someone would then look at it and decide if it was really meant for some other recipient and forward it along. The good news is that because of spam this technique is less and less common. But it could happen.
The bad address may be valid. I know, you said you're 100% sure - but how can you really be sure? You'd be surprised some times. And clearly this is a case where you don't want to be surprised.
And on top of all that, remember that the system administrators can see all mail, valid or not. Whether they are taking the time to do that is unknown, but they could.
The bottom line: someone might see it. Or not. There's just no way to predict.
So what do you do?
The reality is that once you hit send you have lost control of the email. There is nothing you can do to recall, un-send or otherwise prevent what ever happens next from happening.
What you choose to do next depends on the situation. Perhaps you need to explain to the lucky unintended recipient. Perhaps you need to apologize. Perhaps you need to start looking for a new job.
Or perhaps you need do nothing - especially if you don't know for certain that the email was seen by anyone.
I can't help you with that decision. It depends on more than the technology involved.
But good luck with it.
Comments on this entry are closed.
If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.
If you don't find your answer, head out to http://askleo.com/ask to ask your question.