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Effective Action Against Spammers
copyright 1997 by Tracy Marks     posted on Nettrain, April 1997



Reporting spammers and getting immediate action from ISPs (Internet
service providers) is an extremely satisfying and constructive means of
releasing the day's frustrations and feeling like you've accomplished
something meaningful for both yourself and the Internet. I am having
a high degree of success in stopping spammers, and ISPs are being
extremely cooperative (they're on our side, after all), so I thought I'd
share the techniques that are working for me.

Hopefully those of you who are concerned about spam will try them
(if you haven't already) and share them with your students and your
online friends and acquaintances.

In the process I wish to acknowledge Adam Boettinger of Exposure
for his excellent article on how to deal effectively with spammers
and also Bob Rankin for quoting it on the Tourbus list.

Here's my summary how-to:


1. Use whatever means your email program has to view and copy
the headers from the spam. - In Netscape Mail, try options, show
headers, all. -In Eudora Pro (and possibly Eudora Lite), click on the
blah blah button inside the incoming message.

2. Read the headers and attempt to determine the i.s.p - from an
address which ends with .com or .net. There may be several due to
a convoluted forwarding mechanism the spammer may have used.
One may even be his domain - which is likely to be served by an
i.s.p., but will not indicate the name of the i.s.p. The address in
the received line is usually the best bet.

3. If you're not sure if an address is the spammer's domain, rather
than a legitimate i.s.p, go to
Type in the or (Substitute the name of
the i.s.p. for
ispname above). The information you receive should
tell you the
name and email address of the underlying i.s.p., and
perhaps even
  the addresses of the manager, president etc.

4. Send a copy of the offending spam WITH FULL HEADERS,
(and if possible, with the subject intact) to:
(or .net). Usually, this address works. Others you can try include:, and also The address for the administrative contact
listed in whois is also an excellent bet. Try two or three, but don't
give in to the temptation to spam everyone at the i.s.p with antispam!

5. Include at the top a brief complaint about the spammer and ask
politely that the i.s.p take effective action against this person and
spamming in general.

In most cases, you will receive a response from the ISP within
24 hours - thanking you, and letting you know that they have
terminated the spammer's account. (The primary exception is
when the spammer operates his own I.S.P. or server, but at least
you may locate the email address by which you can contact him.)

COMMENT: Some spammers have been known to forge the domain and
email address of an I.S.P. so that you will think that the spam is originating
from a non-spamming domain. The I.S.P. MAY be a victim too - and not
an offender. Keep this in mind when writing angry messages!


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