Reporting Spam

How to Report Spam E-mail

Reporting spam is the first contribution that you as an individual can make to stopping the spam problem. The more spam complaints and reports there are, the more likely we will be able to reduce the amount of spam that everyone gets. For the novice, reporting spam to the right party sounds easier than it is. Most people think that they can just click on the "remove me" link. Others will try to reply to the message and ask to be removed. In the vast majority of cases, neither of these attempts are useful and clicking on the links to be removed from future mailings actually compounds the problem in many cases. So how then should you report spam and to who?

As our first step to report spam, we will need to view the full message headers. Message headers are the part of the message that indicates who sent the message, who it was sent to, the date and time and the subject line. The full message headers also include the Internet Address, or IP Address, of the sending mail server, the receiving mail server and the original Internet Address of the computer that sent the original message. Each email program has a different way to view the message headers. For our example, we will use Outlook Express (OE) as this is a very popular email client. Here is how to open up the full message headers in OE:

Step 1: Click on "File" in OE as shown below and then click on "Properties":


Step 2: After clicking on "Properties", you should see the below window. Click on the "Details" tab.

Step 3: The "Details" tab does show us the message headers, but to make them appear in a larger view, click on the "Message Source" button as in the figure below:

Step 4: Viewing the "Message Source" should give us access to all of the necessary information needed to report the offending spam message. Take a look at a sample message source in the following figure:

Spam X-terminator stops spammers cold! Stop spam email today

Step 5: The lines in this view that are the most importance to us are the lines that start with "Received:" Here are the two lines that we are interested in:

Received: from [] by
(SMTPD32-7.15) id A3DF55400AE; Thu, 19 Aug 2004 20:45:35 -0700
Received: from by; Fri, 20 Aug 2004 02:38:35 -0200

The IP address that we want to report is the one on the top line in between the brackets [ ]. In this example, the IP address we would want to report would be

The next question would be where to report this IP address and spam message. There are several organizations, such as Spam Cop that accept spam reports and will handle contacting the spammers ISP with your complaint. You can also in addition to reporting your spam messages directly, can report the spam to the spammers ISP. ISP's can get a bad reputation very quickly if they do not take care of spammers that reside on their networks and most will stop the spammer right away once the spam is properly reported to them. In order to find out who to contact, you will need the IP address that we collected. The next step will be to go to . ARIN is the American Registry of Internet Numbers. Once on their webpage, enter in the IP address in the "whois" section on their front page and click on the "whois" button. You will get an all text output that will give you the email address of the ISP who maintains the spammers Internet Connection. That is who you will report the spam to.

I would recommend writing a firm but nice email message to the administrator of the network and either providing a copy of the spam message, or pasting in the headers into the message so they have proof of what you are saying and have enough information to track down the spammer.

[ Block Spam with message rules | Block Spam with Filters | Block Spam with Traps | How to Report Spam ]

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