Why Is My Email Address Blacklisted?
An email blacklist is a database with email addresses, IP addresses, and domain names that are known to send spam.
One of the most well-known email blacklists is the Composite Blocking List (CBL) by Spamhaus. As explained on its website, “the CBL lists IPs exhibiting characteristics which are specific to open proxies of various sorts and dedicated Spam BOTs which have been abused to send spam.” Other prominent email blacklists include SpamCop, MultiRBL, SURBL, and Invaluement, just to name a few.
Email blacklists are used by everyone from service providers like Google and Microsoft to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Comcast and Verizon to prevent spam emails from entering their servers and annoying their customers.
There are many ways how an email address, IP address, or a domain name can end up on an email blacklist:
- Hacked account: Perhaps the most common reason why legitimate email users end up blacklisted is that their accounts get hacked and used by spammers to send spam emails. Often, the rightful owners notice only when the amount of available free email storage space reaches zero due to the large number of sent emails.
- Email spoofing: Believe it or not, but it’s quite easy to create messages with a forged sender address. Such messages appear to have originated from someone or somewhere other than the real source, and you can probably already see why spammers would find them useful.
- Dirty mail list: If you use email for marketing purposes, you probably have a list of mail addresses that you use to distribute emails and newsletters. There’s nothing bad about email lists, but you need to ensure that your email list doesn’t contain any old, fake, or illegitimate mail addresses that would generate zero engagement.
- Too many outbound emails: If you typically send just one or two emails per week and suddenly send more than a hundred emails in a single day, your service provider is very likely to suspect that you’re up to no good, banning your mail address from sending further emails until you complete an email blacklist removal.
- Too many complaints: Email providers often blacklist email addresses because they send emails that get marked as spam or get immediately deleted without even being opened. High complaint rates are often produced by sending emails to recipients who have not completed an opt-in, and such practice is actually illegal in many countries.
What to Do If Email Was Blacklisted?
If you suspect that your email got blacklisted, you should do a quick email blacklist check using an email blacklist checker, which is a software tool that allows you to easily check email blacklists with just a few clicks. It’s much faster to use an email blacklist checker than it is to manually check individual blacklist email sites, and blacklist checkers typically come with a plethora of other useful features to help you learn more about your email address and its status in the eyes of email and internet service providers.
Here are three public email blacklist checkers you should know about:
MXToolBox is a blacklist checker that tests a mail server IP address against over 100 DNS based email blacklists. You can enter either a server IP or domain name, and MXToolBox will instantly display a table with each blacklist in its database and its response. If everything is alright and your mail address isn’t blacklisted, you will see around 100 blacklist checks with “OK” next to them.
You can then instruct MXToolBox to monitor your mail address and alert you if it ever gets blacklisted. As a free user, you can monitor one mail address and access troubleshooting information about backlist, email, DNS, & web issues. To unlock more features, such as email delivery tracking, email performance monitoring, and real-time email reputation data, you need to purchase the Delivery Center service for $99 a month or $1,188 annually.
MXToolBox also offers an enhanced version of the Deliver Center service for $399 a month, called Deliver Center Plus. The enhanced version can process up to 5 million messages a month, and it includes alert integrations, advanced sender detail, and treat investigator.
DNSBL.info is a single place where you can check the blacklist status of your mail server's IP address on more than 100 DNS based blacklists. The service is owned and operated by CGP Holdings, a US-based company with 15+ years’ experience in developing dynamic content websites.
Performing a blacklist check on DNSBL.info is simple since all you need to do is enter the IP address you want to check into the Quick Blacklist Check field and click the Check This IP button next to it. What you want to see are green “OK” labels next to all blacklists checked by DNSBL.info.
DNSBL.info states that simply being listed does not always indicate the IP address is a source of spam. That’s because the blacklist checker takes into consideration many different criteria, some of which are based on the IP address' country or connection type. To verify the result, we recommend you use at least one other blacklist checker.
Multirbl.valli.org is a comprehensive blacklist email address checker that consults over 120 different email blacklist databases. The checker lets you perform FCrDNS and DNSBL lookups on IPv4/IPv6 addresses or domain names. All checks are performed extremely quickly, and you don’t need to spend any money to unlock everything Multirbl.valli.org has to offer because this blacklist checker is completely free.
If you would like to support it, you can send Bitcoins to its Bitcoin wallet, whose address can be found on the home page.
How to Check Email Blacklist Databases with MXToolBox
This is how you can check your email address with MXToolBox:
- Go to https://mxtoolbox.com/blacklists.aspx
- Enter your server IP or domain name and click the “Blacklist Check” button to perform an email blacklist check.
- After a few seconds, you should see a long list of popular email blacklists with status messages right next to them. If all blacklists display the “OK” message, your email address isn’t blacklisted.
Email Blacklist Removal
Ending up on an email blacklist isn’t the end of the world. If you’ve found out that your email address has been blacklisted, you need to change what’s wrong and contact the spam list, telling them that the problem is now fixed.
Most spam list owners and administrators respond to removal requests fairly quickly, but we highly recommend you do everything you can to ensure that the problem has been fixed before you ask for your email address to be removed because they probably wouldn’t be so friendly the second time around.
In addition to cleaning up your email list, you should also scan your computer and other devices for malware and use an inbox cleaner like Clean Email to organize your inbox and remove all emails you don’t need. Clean Email can automatically unsubscribe you from all unwanted subscriptions and remove entire groups of emails with a few clicks.
Use Clean Email to Avoid Blacklisting
Clean Email is an inbox organizer that can automatically unsubscribe you from all unwanted subscriptions and remove entire groups of emails with a few clicks.
If you’re often sending out emails in bulk, you want to keep your inbox as clean as possible to avoid accidentally including the mail addresses belonging to spammers, phishers, and other unwanted senders in your mail list.
Sadly, manual email management is so time-consuming that most people who don’t use a software solution capable of organizing messages in bulk simply give up after a while. That’s a shame because the app works with all major service providers, and it has many useful features that make it easy to achieve and maintain Inbox Zero.
As we’ve already mentioned, you can use Clean Email to get rid of all unwanted subscriptions in bulk, even if they don’t include any unsubscribe link. That’s because the app can intelligently recognize different kinds of messages and automatically group them into convenient bundles.
You can then apply familiar actions, such as remove, archive, or move, to entire bundles of emails, which can save you a lot of time and ensure that you never miss a message. What’s more, you can tell Clean Email to apply the same action automatically in the future.
“Is my email blacklisted?” isn’t a difficult question to answer because there are many free email blacklist checkers that you can use to instantly see if your email address has ended up on an email blacklist. Of course, discovering that your email address has, indeed, been blacklisted is just the first step toward email blacklist removal (learn more about how to whitelist an email). To successfully remove a blacklisted email address from all email blacklists, you need to change what’s wrong and contact the owners of the corresponding email blacklists. You should also verify that both your computer and your inbox are clean, which you can do using any popular malware removal tool and Clean Email, an easy-to-use inbox organizer.
Email Blacklist Check - FAQs
1. What does blacklisted mean?
When a mail address becomes blacklisted, it gets added to a database maintained either by a provider of a mail service (such as Google, Yahoo, or Microsoft), or some third party. Service providers then check this blacklist to determine which messages to allow and which to block.
2. How do emails get blacklisted?
Emails, or more specifically mail addresses, get blacklisted for a variety of different reasons, including hacking, spoofing, and, of most importantly, distributing spam emails.
3. How do I check if my email is blacklisted?
There are many blacklist lookup websites that let you easily check if your email is blacklisted. Simply google “blacklist checker,” and you should instantly see several options right on the front page. Just keep in mind that not all blacklist checkers monitor the same email blacklists, so make sure to check multiple blacklists and not just one.
4. How do you get off the blacklist?
To get off an email blacklist, you need to address the original reason for blacklisting. For example, if your mail account got hacked and was used to distribute spam, then you need to change your password and preferably activate two-factor authentication to prevent unauthorized use of the mail address. You can then contact the administrators of the email blacklist and ask them to remove your address.
5. How many emails can I send without getting blacklisted?
Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut answer to this question because there are many different IP blacklists, each with its own rules. Generally, you can send as many emails as you want, but the emails must be legitimate and sent only to recipients who have explicitly opted in to receive them.