If you get an email returned (bounced back) that you didn’t send, don’t worry about it, but do run a couple of checks on your computer security.

(If you get an email complaining you sent someone a virus, you can follow these same steps.)

Usually there is an infected computer somewhere that contains both your email address and the destination email address. (For example, the infected computer might belong to a mutual friend, or to a company you both deal with.)

The malware (virus or trojan) on the infected computer scanned that computer for email addresses. It picked one email address to be the fake sender, and sent copies of itself to the other email addresses.

The malware didn’t use the real email address of the computer’s owner because any undeliverable email that bounced back would tip the infected computer’s owner that he had a problem.

The other common possibility is that a spammer sent spam and, accidentally or intentionally, used your email address in the “sent from” field. Normally this is a one-time occurrence, although you might see bounces for a couple of days.

Either way, it is unlikely your computer sent the email.

Make sure the anti-virus software on your computer is up-to-date and run a full scan of your computer.

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