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What is SpamCop?

Spam emails are unsolicited messages, or junk emails, sent in bulk to a large list of recipients. Spam is sent without your knowledge or consent and often contains marketing messages, but may also be used to send malware and phishing links. SpamCop steps in to help prevent this misuse by adding spammers into an email blacklist pool.

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Who is SpamCop.net? Is SpamCop legitimate? How does SpamCop work? SpamCop rules
Is SpamCop free? How do I get rid of SpamCop? How to avoid the SpamCop Blocking List

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Who is SpamCop.net?

SpamCop is a web-based email spam reporting service. It allows recipients of unsolicited bulk or commercial email to report IP addresses identified as spam senders by SpamCop’s analysis to the abuse reporting addresses associated with those IP addresses. Information received from these reports is used to compile a list called the “SpamCop Blocking List” or “SpamCop BlackList” (SCBL), which identifies computers that send spam.

SpamCop began as an individual effort in 1998. Staff were added as the reporting service grew in popularity, and the SpamCop Blocking List became increasingly valuable. It has frequently been the victim of DDoS attacks and litigation from SCBL-listed organizations.

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Is SpamCop legitimate?

SpamCop is a legitimate and wholly-owned subsidiary of Cisco Systems, a large multinational corporation with a lengthy history of manufacturing and supporting networking equipment. SpamCop is part of Cisco’s Security Intelligence at Talos.

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How does SpamCop work?

The SCBL lists IP addresses reported as having sent spam emails via direct email sources (such as a website’s primary mail server) or indirectly (such as open proxies or open relays that are abused to send spam).

SpamCop reports are generated by:

  • SpamCop users.
  • Spamtraps.
  • Websites that use the SCBL.

When an IP address is added to the SCBL, SpamCop submits a complaint to the system administrator responsible for maintaining the spammer’s mail server. From there, ISPs and other providers may take steps to penalize the spammer or remove their ability to send email altogether.

SpamCop rules

Inclusion on the SCBL is determined by weighting the number of reports of a given IP address to a sample of the total amount of email sent by that IP address, though SpamCop itself acknowledges that this isn’t perfect.

SpamCop’s weighting rules include:

  • A manual comparison that balances a large number of reports vs. the sender’s reputation points.
  • How recently an email was received:
    • The most recently received reports are weighted 4:1.
    • Reports for emails 48 hours or older are weighted 1:1, with a linear sliding scale between the most recent and 48 hours past.
    • Reports for emails received more than one week ago are ignored.
  • Spamtrap reports:
    • For spamtrap scores of less than six, the SCBL multiplies the spamtrap score by five and adds it to the report score.
    • For larger spamtrap scores, the SCBL squares the quantity.

Servers that send bounces to an SCBL spamtrap in sufficient quantity to meet the listing criteria will also be added to the SCBL.

If an IP address receives no more than two reports, the SCBL will only list it for a maximum of 12 hours from its most recent reported email. If an IP address doesn’t receive a report for 24 hours, the SCBL will not list it.

The SCBL does not list IP addresses with only one report filed or count reports regarding URLs or addresses in the body of an email.

Is SpamCop free?

You can use the SpamCop Blocking List with your own mail server for free, which helps filter out emails from IP addresses included on the SCBL.

SpamCop also offers the SpamCop Email System for Individuals for an annual fee of $30. The SpamCop Email System works with your existing or new email address to automatically scan incoming emails for viruses or spam by referencing the sender’s IP address to the SpamCop database.

Small businesses between two and 500 employees can also take advantage of the SpamCop Email System for $30 per year per account.

SpamCop offers Corporate Email Services for businesses with more than 500 email accounts, though pricing is custom-tailored depending on your specific needs.

How do I get rid of SpamCop?

Inclusion on the SCBL can have a significant impact on your deliverability rate for emails sent to SpamCop users. Fortunately, IP addresses are automatically removed from the SCBL after 24 hours with no new spam reports.

Before contacting SpamCop to request a removal, review your mail server for any exploits, viruses, or malware. Ensure your mail server is set up properly and not misdirecting bounces or failing to properly authenticate sent emails.

If you are not engaging in spam or and your system is otherwise clean and functioning properly, you can dispute your inclusion on the SCBL by contacting SpamCop with:

  • Your name and title. (SpamCop may not reply unless you are the administrator of the IP address in question.)
  • Information pertaining to any reports you received from SpamCop.
  • Your reason for disputing the report and your inclusion on the blocklist.
  • Supporting documentation.

Supporting documentation can include proof that a technical error on the part of SpamCop led to your inclusion on the SCBL or evidence (such as confirmation of a double opt-in) that a user mistakenly reported your IP address as spam.

How to avoid the SpamCop Blocking List

Maintaining a positive sender reputation and refraining from poor email marketing practices can help prevent your inclusion on the SCBL. To avoid a bad IP reputation and SpamCop complaints:

  • Consider a double opt-in option on your sign up forums. This will ensure new subscribers submit correct email addresses.
  • Use a professional sender address that includes your domain. This will confirm the legitimacy of your company.
  • Try not to overuse capital letters and special characters in your campaigns and make sure to avoid too many links.
  • Use strong passwords and consider two-factor authentication to keep spammers and unauthorised users from accessing your account.
  • Give your subscribers a clear option to opt-out. If this is not clear, users may think your emails are spam and submit complaints to SpamCop.

The bottom line

Reporting services like SpamCop help email recipients submit spam complaints to avoid unwanted or malicious messages. Your company’s inclusion on the SpamCop Blocking List can negatively impact the success of your email marketing campaigns and the ability for you to connect with your subscribers.

Though IP addresses are removed from the SCBL after 24 hours of no new reports, you can avoid the blocking list altogether by maintaining a positive IP reputation and refraining from spammy behavior. You should also verify that your mail server is set up properly and clean of any viruses or malware.

If you believe you have been improperly listed on the SCBL, you should collect supporting documentation to dispute your inclusion and request your removal from the service.

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