There are several common ways that spammers can get your email address:
It pays to keep your email address as private as possible, but sometimes it seems like there's nothing you can do to keep it out of the hands of spammers. For this reason you have to combine smart privacy practices with strong email filters.
All of the most recent versions of Microsoft's email services (including Hotmail) use a strong filter called SmartScreen. For more information, see Help keep spam out of your inbox.
Helped. I've definitely broadened my horizon on this matter.
Another way is harvesting. We've all received a forwarded email joke or similar message where the first hundred lines are a historical list of everyone that clicked FWD. That very email *will* end up in the hands of a spammer, eventually, who will "harvest" all of the visible addresses out of the email .. likely using an automated tool. All the addresses harvested and then permanently added to their spammer database .. courtesy of your friend who didn't have the courtesy to BCC (blind copy) you.
On a related note, the proper way to BCC is to send the email TO yourself and then BCC everyone else.
~ Paulie D
Someone has stolen my daughters email address and is now sending out crap email. How can I disable her old email name or account?
I got e-mail ad from hotmail company if it is fake ad. Someone used my e-mail and changed my password. No fair! Scammer did it.
By far the greatest problem for business users is that of careless webdesigners who fail to implement harvesting protection.
Anyone having a website built needs to be very careful over this.