Where do you accept reports?


One of the things that is most frustrating to me about sending in spam reports is that many ESPs and senders don’t actively monitor their abuse address. A few months ago I talked about getting spam from Dell to multiple email addresses of mine.
What I didn’t talk about was how badly broken the ESP was in handling my complaint. The ESP was, like many ESPs, an organization that grew organically and also purchased several smaller ESPs over the course of a few years. This means they have at least 5 or 6 different domains.
The problem is, they don’t effectively monitor abuse@ for those different domains. In fact, it took me blogging about it to get any response from the ESP. Unfortunately, that initial response was “why didn’t you tell us about it?”
I pointed out I’d tried abuse@domain1, abuse@domain2, abuse@domain3, and abuse@domain4. Some of the addresses were in the mail headers, others were in the ESP record at abuse.net. Three of those addresses bounced with “no such user.” In other words, I’d tried to tell them, but they weren’t accepting reports in a way I could access.
Every ESP should have active abuse addresses at domains that show up in their mail. This means the bounce address domain should have an abuse address. The reverse DNS domain should have an abuse address. The d= domain should have an abuse address.
And those addresses should be monitored. In the Dell case, the ESP did have an active abuse@ address but it was handled by corporate. Corporate dropped the ball and never forwarded the complaint to the ESP reps who could act on the spam issue.
ESPs and all senders should have abuse@ addresses that are monitored. They should also be tested on a regular basis. In the above case, addresses that used to work were disabled during some upgrade or another. No one thought to test to see if they were working after the change.
You should also test your process. If you send in a complaint, how does it get handled? What happens? Do you even have a complaint handling process outside of “count and forward”?
All large scale senders should have appropriate abuse@ addresses that are monitored. If you don’t, well, you look like a spammer.

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  • Thanks for the post. I completely agree that monitoring abuse@ (and let’s not forget postmaster@!) on all sending domains is crucial to developing transparency and making sure you can deal with complaints quickly and effectively. I’d like to know why you mention the rDNS domain though. I can’t imagine Joe Bloggs ever doing a lookup so he can send an email to your rDNS domain. Unless, of course, he’s an ubergeek and you have already failed to address his complaint via the from and sender domains! Are there some ISPs/MSPs that use automated processes on these domains you know about? Or is it more for completeness – it costs virtually nothing to do, so better safe than sorry – ?

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