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Q: I’m having e-mail problems. Several times a day I get “mail delivery failure” notices for e-mails that I never sent. I’ve also been getting e-mails in foreign languages that I can’t read. Some of these e-mails don’t contain any message, or the attachments don’t make any sense.

Is someone using my e-mail address to send messages to other people? What should I do?

Steven Russell, Galloway, Ohio

A: It’s possible that someone has gained access to your e-mail account and is sending messages in your name. But it’s more likely that these are bogus e-mails from disreputable sources. Even the “mail delivery failure” e-mails are probably fake.

There are three things you should do immediately: Change your e-mail password to lock out anyone who might be using the account. Stop opening suspicious e-mails and attachments. Run the free version of the Malwarebytes program ( in case the e-mails have installed any malicious software on your computer.

If anyone is using your e-mail account, the goal would be to send junk or malicious e-mails to others using your name. The best defense against that is to create a strong new e-mail password that would be hard for anyone else to guess (see examples at and

It’s common for unscrupulous people to send fake e-mails that are designed to attract attention. The senders hope that curiosity will prompt you to open an e-mail or an attachment, or to respond because you think it was sent to you by mistake.

Either response notifies the sender that your e-mail address is valid, and thus a good place to send more malicious e-mails. In addition, opening these messages makes your computer vulnerable to infection by any malware that the e-mail may carry. (For tips on how to recognize fake e-mail and other online scams, see and

If an e-mail seems fake, don’t open it. Either delete it or send it to your e-mail provider’s “spam” or “junk” folder (that may help the provider block similar messages in the future.)

Q: I received pop-up messages telling me that there was a problem installing security updates for Windows 10. I used the online Microsoft Answer desk, which remotely took control of my PC to solve a problem (error 0xc1900200) with a memory partition (memory block division) on my solid state (computer-chip-based) drive. They also offered to sell me a $149 one-year service contract, but I didn’t buy it. Now my repair shop tells me the whole thing was a scam. Was it?

Mike Judd, Tucson, Ariz.

A: No. While there are many scams that purport to be online support services, the Microsoft Answer Desk ( is legitimate, as is the Microsoft Assure support service they offered to you (see

But it’s worth reading Microsoft’s warning about support scams that misuse its name (see These include unsolicited bogus calls from fake support services, requests for credit card information to “validate” your copy of Windows and e-mails with fake “security update” attachments.

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