How does the abuse.net mail forwarder work ?

The abuse.net system helps forward messages about abusive activity on the Internet to people who can do something about it. It's not a blacklist, nor is it a spam analysis service. It just forwards message from you to system managers.

It's up to you to determine who should get your complaint.

If you're complaining about junk e-mail, the From: header on spam is almost always forged, so you need to look at other header information to figure out who's responsible. See How can I tell where to complain? below. Do not forward spam to postmaster, update or any other administrative address at abuse.net; it is a waste of your time and ours to do so.

Before you can send any messages through abuse.net, you have to register. (This is to prevent abuse through abuse.net itself, which was a problem until we started registration.) Messages from unregistered users are logged and discarded.

Once you've registered, when you send a message to domain-name@abuse.net, where domain-name is the name of the domain that was the source of junk e-mail or another abusive practice, the system here automatically re-mails your message to the best reporting address(es) we know for that domain. For example, if you wanted to send a message to example.com you'd send it to example.com@abuse.net.

For many domains the contact is postmaster@domain-name, for some it's abuse@domain-name, for some it's something else. Some particularly unpleasant domains ignore all their mail; when we're aware of that we use the address for their next-level-up provider.

When we don't know anything about the domain, by default we mail to postmaster at that domain and all suffixes of that domain, so if you sent mail to a.b.com@abuse.net, we'd re-mail that to postmaster@a.b.com and postmaster@b.com.

Not being omniscient, we don't know about every domain on the net. You can check our current list. If you have contact information for a domain not in the database, see How do I submit contact information for a domain?

If you use abuse.net, you may receive automated messages from postmaster@abuse.net, new@abuse.net, register@abuse.net, and any address to which you send an abuse report. Please be sure that mail sent from those addresses will be delivered to you. If we receive a "prove you're human" challenge or other such junk to abuse.net addresses, we will cancel your registration.

How can I tell where to complain?

Most abusive mail has forged return address information, so the To:, From:, and Reply-To: addresses are not the actual source of the message. You'll need to adjust your mail program to show you the header information on the mail, and look at the first few Received: lines in each message to tell where the message actually came from.

For step-by-step advice on how to do that, see the extensive list at our sister site spam.abuse.net.

Some analysis and reporting tools can help do that, although there's no substitute for experience in looking at mail.

Tips for reporting abusive usenet or e-mail messages

Can I use the database if I don't want to send mail through abuse.net?

Sure. Looking up the contact addresses and sending mail directly usually works better than forwarding it through abuse.net.

There are two ways to query the database directly. You can use the web look-up page to see what addresses abuse.net would send mail to, the new DNS based service at contacts.abuse.net, or else use the WHOIS server at whois.abuse.net.
(Note: DNS and WHOIS are not web pages or web sites. The only abuse.net web sites are this one, www.abuse.net, and our companion spam.abuse.net.)


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