If you sell on eBay or Craigslist, your email inbox becomes open to the world. Some people, will take it upon themselves to attack you personally or professionally through email, especially if they feel ripped off by a deal, or if they are a competitor in your market. This kind of abuse would rarely occur in person, but because of the anonymity that the internet provides, many people will take it upon themselves to vent their anger at you in the form of an abusive or harassing email. Handling them in a professional way is often very difficult, but there are some things that you should do if you receive a threatening message from someone online.
First things first, do not, under any circumstances, answer any threatening or spam messages with another angry message. This only invites trouble. Obviously, if you are operating a business, you need to keep your customers happy, and providing an apologetic response is necessary. If their email does not invite a response, don’t give it, and in most circumstances, you don’t want to give a response at all.
Following that, you need to report them for their behavior. Unfortunately, there is no all-encompassing enforcement agency yet available to stop this behavior, but you can do some things to stop them. First, report the abuse to the user’s email service provider. Most times, this can be found by looking at their email address, and taking everything after the @ symbol, adding a “www.” in front of it, and pasting it in the URL window. Now, use that website’s search function to find the page where you can report abuse by the user. Not all email providers will be available to handle these kinds of complaints, but you can always Google them and hope for the best.
Your next step should be to report them as spam. Every modern email provider that I have experienced has this function. To report them as spam, you simply highlight their message and hit the “Spam” button, which is usually located along the top of the inbox panel. You’re doing this step because it makes some email providers take a closer look at the user’s activity once they are reported, and this can cause their email account to be terminated. Other times, marking them as spam is a way to get all of their further communications delivered directly to your spam folder so that you don’t need to deal with them any longer. This can also happen with other messages that they are sending out to others, as many email providers share information about what they consider to be spam messages.
The ultimate goal in this endeavor is to block them from using their email account for this purpose. Unfortunately, few providers are going to go to the lengths necessary to ban people from using the service, but there are a few side effects of reporting them in this way. Reporting their email abuse will hopefully cause them some alarm and discomfort should they get a threatening notice from their email provider. This could prevent them from causing anyone else to be harassed. Should their provider shut down their email, they will at least have the difficulty of changing their email address and notifying their friends or family members of the change.