Some abuse reporting tools

If you get a lot of junk messages, it can be a time-saver to use a script that helps to create a suitable complaint and mails it off.


All of these programs can only make a simple-minded guess at the source of an e-mail message. Most spam now has forged headers with faked To:, From:, Reply-To: and other message headers. Do not mail off a complaint to every domain that appears in a message, since that will just annoy system managers who had nothing at all to do with the problem. You'll have to learn a little about reading message headers so you can be sure you're complaining to the right place.

Sam Spade

Sam Spade is a multi-function analysis web site that can decode a message's headers and make a fairly good guess about where it came from. It can take a little while to learn, but it's very useful. b


Spamassassin is a popular open source filtering system written in perl for Unix systems. You generally run it from procmail, as mail is being delivered to your inbox. I use it, and find it quite effective although I had to adjust its rules and settings to match the spam I get. It's a spam filter, not a spam reporting system, although you can tell it to report the spam it finds to collaborative filtering systems like Vipul's Razor and DCC.


Julian Haight's very popular Spam Cop is a web-based system that attempts to diagnose where an unwanted message came from and send off complaints. Some system managers welcome reports from Spam Cop, others have gotten so many false alarms that they reject all mail from it.

The spam tools mailing list hosts a mailing list for people interested in developing and deploying anti-spam tools.

Visit the list's home page for more details and access to the message archive.


A semi-automated reporting tool that works as an add-in to Mozilla Thunderbird. Checks a variety of sources to find contact info; as always, watch out for over-reporting. Emails are combined now into a single message using multiple recipients.


Ricochet is a perl script for Unix and Linux systems that attempts to guess the source of a spam message from the headers. It can be fooled by forged headers, and rather aggressive about digging up WHOIS info to contact tenuously related contacts. It keeps its own list of contacts, and uses for any not in the list..

I'd always manually edit its proposed list of target addresses to remove all of the false hits.

PCHelp's Network Tracer

This is a combination of a batch script and a couple of freeware command level tools for Windows that help track down IP addresses, URLs, hostnames, and e-mail addresses.

It doesn't attempt to send off complaint messages, but it does help figure out who's responsible for spam so you know who to report it to.

Vipul's Razor

An open-source distributed filtering system, it collects "signatures" of spam from users, and distributes them back out to use for filtering.

Your hacks here

If you have abuse reporting tools you'd like to have listed here, send me a note at and tell me about them. Only freely distributable material, please.
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