How to Remove an IP Address from a Blacklist
(Go to our Blacklist Check page to find out if your IP address is listed on an anti-spam database. This article explains why that happens and how to get off a blacklist.)
Each blacklist database has its own criteria for flagging IP addresses and compiling its own list of online offenders. Those criteria could include a variety of "listings": technical, policy, and evidence-based.
- Technical listings occur mostly from mail-server configuration issues, such as missing or incorrect reverse DNS records, missing or incorrect banner greetings, and mail servers operating within a suspicious range of IP addresses.
- Policy listings are based on an operator that does not wish to receive email from certain countries, or ISPs, that have a history of not honoring "unsubscribe" requests.
- Evidence-based listings are those where the operator has received direct (or indirect) evidence that an IP address has been involved in sending unsolicited emails.
If your IP address has been blacklisted and you want to investigate, you'll need to visit the blacklist's website and do a lookup on your IP address. Most blacklist databases will provide general listing reasons, but don't list specific email addresses tied to blacklisted IP addresses.
If you're able to find out why you were blacklisted, you can try to get it reversed. (You may want to work with someone who is technically savvy to better help you.)
To start with, take time to ensure your network and mail server are configured correctly and all the details are in order for resolving the issues, as prescribed by the blacklist. For example, they may ask you to correct both forward and reverse DNS records, as well as SMTP banners. In addition, you can do the following:
- Scan all computers on your network for viruses
- See if there are any known and needed "patches" (updates and fixes) for your operating system
- Configure routers more securely
- Establish and enforce stronger passwords
Following the blacklist-removal process.
You want to be removed from any blacklists because databases often share IP addresses that have been listed. If you think you've fixed things on your end, go back to the blacklist's site and follow their instructions for the IP address removal process. Here's what you're likely to come across:
- Self-Service Removal. There are a few blacklists with a self-service removal feature that lets you take your IP address off the list without much trouble. However, you'll want to make sure you've resolved any issues before doing this. If you don't and your IP address gets listed again, it won't be easy to get it removed that next time.
- Time-Based Removal. Most blacklists have a built-in, automatic process that removes lower-level listings (IP addresses that are light offenders) within a week or two. But if the IP address had sent spam more than once or did a high volume, the time period will be longer.
Be nice...and see what happens.
When you're trying to get off a blacklist, you'll get farther along if you follow the rules and cooperate. If you are truly innocent of any deliberate wrongdoing (or if you made an honest mistake), let them know. The more open and direct you are with a listing database, the simpler it may be to have your IP address taken off the blacklist.
Keep this in mind:
- Their priority is to reduce the spam on their email platform for their customers—their goal isn't to prevent you from sending emails.
- Spam is a serious problem. They don't blacklist lightly. It's their way of trying to identify and prevent real problems.
- Blacklists are legal because they are designed to prevent fraud or other activity that disrupts normal business. We all need to accept that fact.
- If you made a mistake and were blacklisted, don't make the same mistake again. You likely won't be forgiven a second time.
You might be able to resolve any blacklist issues online. If not, and the blacklisting is troublesome for you, consider contacting the list by phone and try to resolve the issue that way.
Elyssa D. Durant, Ed.M.