Are You on a Spam Blacklist?

Lat year, I found out that my email, and therefore I, was considered a spammer. If you are sharing an IP address at all, you may be at risk too! And by sharing an IP address, I mean if you have the basic host plan package through any hosting provider. Just because you have your own domain name does not mean you have your own IP, unless you have a ‘dedicated’ IP, you are sharing with others.

I am going to share how I found out, how you can check yourself, why you might be listed as a spammer and what you can do about it.

Note to real spammers: Get lost, don’t SPAM, you piss me off!

Reasons Why You Might be Listed as a Spammer
There are probably more reasons then these three reasons, but I am only covering what I’ve learned here. Feel free to add more in the comments.

  1. You are a real spammer – if you are, then get lost, this post isn’t for you.
  2. An email you sent was marked as spam – an example of this: someone likes your site and wants to subscribe to your newsletter. They sign up and then forget what they signed up for. They begin getting your newsletter updates and instead of unsubscribing properly through the email, they mark you as spam to get you out of their inbox. If this happens enough, your IP may get on a blacklist.
  3. You are sharing an IP address with a spammer – you may be on the same IP with someone who is considered a spammer and is on one or more blacklists. This is what happened to me. I own my own domain, but my IP address is shared with others who use my hosting provider.

How I Found Out
One company I tried to contact had their spam settings on, so it automatically deleted my email (they never even saw it) and it sent me a reply saying it couldn’t be delivered and to call a number for more info. I called, spoke to a great guy and he told me I was on a blacklist. He verified me as a real person and let my email through, but I can’t do that every time I send an email.

Then, I received a reply back from a company I had contacted to work with. They had hit ‘reply’ so my subject line showed what they saw, and before the title of my email, there it was ****SPAM****. Can you imagine how embarrassing that is?

Had those companies not replied or sent me something indicating something was wrong, then I would still be sitting here wondering why no one was replying to my emails.

How to Check if You Are Listed as a Spammer
There are websites to check to see if your website/IP is blacklisted anywhere. I suggest taking the time to check every couple of months. Just because you are not on it today, doesn’t mean that someone who shares your IP address is going to do something astronomically stupid tomorrow and take you down with them.

One site I found is MXToolBox. If you know the IP you are on, you can enter it in here. If you don’t know your IP, there are instructions on the site to find out what it is. The site is easy to use, type in the IP and wait for it to check then scroll down for results. The green dots mean you are okay, the red dots mean you are on a list. And it tells you which one so you can do further checks and/or contact them for more info.

How to Get Off Spam BlackLists
This is not easy to do. Chances are, if you found this post, you are probably “an innocent party” as the spam company told me I was… and you are frustrated.

If you got on spam lists because your email was being marked as spam:

  1. You can ask people to go in to their spam folders and mark it as “not spam” and hopefully the spam blacklists will take notice. This takes time however and if email is a huge part of your day, as it is mine, then that’s not a good option.
  2. You can contact your hosting provider and asked to be moved to a new IP. There is a good chance you will get a no on that one. With the magnitude of the internet and the amount of spammers these days, new IP addresses are being used up at rapid speeds for fraudulent activity. They can try moving you, but again, someone else could get going on your IP address and then you are back to square one.
  3. You can get a dedicated IP address. You can contact your hosting provider and ask if they offer dedicated IP addresses to their customers, most do. Having a dedicated IP address means you are the only one on it, no one else can share it with you. One thing to note when getting a dedicated IP address is to check it as soon as you get it. Dedicated IP addresses are recycled and someone could have used it before. 99.9% of the time though it will not be on a spam list because no one is currently using it.

I hope this post is useful. It would have saved me two weeks of work had I found a post like this to begin with.

As for me, I got a dedicated IP address. It cost me about $50 per year, but for my purposes, it was worth it. And I checked myself out, I’m not on any spam lists anymore!

Sheri Landry
Sheri publishes, and writes at This Bird’s Day where she shares all of the thoughts in her head without the voices. Sticking mainly with content for Canadians, Sheri shares family stories, product information and anything that fits into her (and her family’s) daily activities.
Found in Online & Tech
5 comments… add one
  • Angele @shoeboxbegone Dec 19, 2011, 8:18 pm

    Great post! I had similar issues recently, and had to get a new ip address. Which I could have seen this before!

    Thanks!

  • MainsleazeSpam Dec 10, 2011, 2:31 pm

    This is an excellent blog, informative and spot on about what can get a non-spammer listed on a blacklist. Good job!

    I would add one additional caveat: the company you host with, not just who is on your IP, matters. If you choose a company with a reputation for dealing quickly with spam problems, you are both less likely to end up on a blacklist in the first place, and your IP is more likely not to remain there for long if it happens. The reason is that responsible ISPs and web hosts take precautions against letting spammers onto their networks, and also remove them quickly when they show up. Less responsible ISPs and web hosts ignore email to their abuse address, let problems linger, and tend to respond only when the SBL listings cause their own customers to complain.

    To find out how your ISP or web hosts stacks up, use Google. Obviously they all claim to have strict anti-spam policies, but if you just look at what they do and what their reputation is, you should get the picture quickly.

    • Sheri Landry Sheri Dec 10, 2011, 10:18 pm

      Thank you so much for adding your comment to this post.

      It never occurred to me to look at my hosting provider, but I know they were very quick to respond with a DMCA notice I had to file earlier this year and I have never read of them not responding to spam issues.

  • MxToolBox Dec 9, 2011, 9:32 am

    You are spot on with your ‘Reasons Why You Might be Listed as a Spammer’… also keep in mind that message content is incredibly important. The subject line and content of an email message are incredibly important! We highly recommend taking extra time to ensure that your message has valuable content that someone would want to read and doesn’t sound too “spammy” or “salesy.” This may seem simple, but it is amazing how often this is overlooked.

    We also wanted to mention that our Blacklist Tool you mention has the ability to automatically alert you if your server is Blacklisted. It can also auto alert you for SMTP, HTTP(s) and TCP connections as well.

    Thanks,
    @mxtoolbox

    • Sheri Landry Sheri Dec 9, 2011, 11:11 am

      This is great additional information. Thank you for commenting and sharing. Some times it is easy to use the same title over again. I will be paying closer attention to my titles from now on.

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