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Spam arrives in a brand new account – how?

How can spam email appear in a brand new account right away, before anyone has been given the address? 

Office Watch reader Sophie J setup an account and was shocked to see spam email appear in the mailbox within minutes. 

She hadn’t given out the email address to anyone (barely had time enough) .  Sophie asks how a spammer could get her email address so quickly and why Microsoft’s anti-spam system didn’t block it.

We tried it ourselves and, sure enough, there were two messages. The standard ‘Welcome’ email plus another seemingly spam email.

There are ways that spammers could reach a new mailbox by sending messages randomly to email addresses knowing that many will ‘bounce’ but noting the ones that are accepted.

No anti-spam system is perfect and some emails will get through no matter what. There’s also the risk of real emails being wrongly blocked by over-zealous mail systems.

But that’s NOT what’s happening here. That email isn’t really an email, it’s an advertisement placed by Microsoft.  The clue is the little ‘Ad’ icon.

The ad only appears in the browser view of the Outlook mailbox.  It doesn’t show up in any Outlook apps linked to that mailbox.

That advert will disappear after a little while, it’s not permanent.

How to stop ads

If the email address is linked to a Microsoft 365 plan (Family, Personal or Basic) then the ads won’t appear. 

The Outlook setting everyone should check

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