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What Is an Email Header Trace?

Be careful when attempting an email header trace. Unless you have been trained it is very easy to make mistakes and return inaccurate information.

Copyright (c) 2008 Ed Opperman

In short, an email header trace is the act of taking an incoming email, locating its header information, then analyzing said information to determine the email's origins. Put simply, you are trying to find out where the email came from.

Though tracing an email's header is helpful in identifying an email's sender, it typically only yields information pertaining to the author's ISP - meaning that you can only get a circle on a map of a location approximating the user's location. (If you happen to be working on a case involving civil litigation, you can usually subpoena the ISP - serving them a duces tucem, which commands them as a witness to produce documents. They'll also be required to send forth a 'custodian' of records who will testify and identify account information as is necessary. Similarly, if you're in the middle of a court case, you can attempt to have the judge sign a search warrant that requires the ISP to turn the information over to the police.)

So, what happens if you want to trace an email's header back to its source, but aren't able to obtain a subpoena or search warrant? As noted above, all too often a header search does not reveal the information desired, even if it does inevitably prove somewhat useful - which is why it is perhaps prudent at such a juncture to turn to a private investigator trained in doing various forms of internet-based fact-finding. PIs often have access to forensic equipment that can tell you more about the header than you would be able to discover otherwise - such as the sender's operating system, browser and even MAC ID! Be warned that a legitimate PI will probably require upwards of a few weeks to find the information you are looking for.

This is the sort of information that will either clear the suspect's name or merely make them more likely your culprit; you may even discover with absolute certainty that you have the right man or woman in your sights! Nonetheless, before you go to a trained private investigator, make sure to run a background check on his or her credentials! Google their name and discover whether or not your potential PI is accredited as an expert in online investigations. Once you have hired the right man, woman, or teamFree Articles, you'll be surprised at the sorts of information you will suddenly have access to about your subject! Best of luck!

Article Tags: Email Header Trace, Email Header, Header Trace

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Ed Opperman is president of Opperman Investigations Inc He is considered an expert on the reverse email search and online investigations Visit to end your fears.

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