AOL Spam Blacklist

Head Surfer
October 8th, 2008

From time to time a server is blacklisted by AOL.  Usually the server is secure and no spamming is actually taking place.  After further investigation we realized that it was being caused by users that were forwarding their email to their aol accounts.

Flow:  They were forwarding it to aol.  The message was in fact spam that was sent to them at email@theirdomain.com.  It then reaches our servers, gets tagged with our server IP, and then it’s forwarded to aol.  When they receive the message at aol they then report it as spam which means they’re reporting themselves since our server/IP was the last to forward the message.

When we see this occur we notify the client with the following email:

Important AOL email forwarding issue –

We’ve been contacted by AOL because your account has been reported for spamming.  We worked with them to resolve the issue.

To ensure this doesn’t happen again you should not use the Report as Spam button when checking your email through AOL.  You’re actually reporting yourself for spamming.

Here’s Why:
You have your email account with us configured to forward to your aol email address.  When a spammer sends you an email message it’s received by our server.  Then your email account forwards it to AOL from our server.  You receive it at AOL and report it as spam.  Aol’s system isn’t smart enough to realize that you’re reporting the spammer from a forwarded message.  Instead since the message last went through your account on our server prior to being forwarded to AOL they think you’re reporting your own email address on our system as a source of spam.

Please discontinue reporting spam via AOL or we’ll be forced to remove the AOL forwarder on your account to ensure we don’t get in trouble for the spam complaints.

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