AT&T's Spam Filter Gets A Bit Too Aggressive

from the why-no-recourse? dept

You can certainly understand why ISPs offer spam filters. It’s a service for users who don’t want to be totally bombarded with spam. But what I’ve never understood is that these ISPs rarely give the user a chance to circumvent the spam filter themselves. If most people want to ignore it and assume all spam is spam, then so be it. But what if some users want to make sure no legit emails are getting through? Witness the latest chatter about AT&T’s “upgraded” spam filter that is apparently eating up a ton of legitimate emails with no indication to the receiving party. It’s surprising that AT&T would do this, knowing (as it must) that back when Verizon became too aggressive with its spam filters, it lost a class action lawsuit and had to pay out a few million dollars to annoyed users. Either way, it’s a reminder not to use your ISP’s email solution.

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Companies: at&t

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Comments on “AT&T's Spam Filter Gets A Bit Too Aggressive”

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Bryan Price (user link) says:

It's not just the biggies

I get free hosting through an old school friend. He has the spam filters so tight that half of what I want won’t get through the filters, and yet plenty of spam goes right through. No spam folder to look through, if the email is on a blacklist, it just drops the connection. And if his system determines that it’s apam, it doesn’t deliver it. If it thinks it might be spam, it puts a nice warning on the subject. Nice even on those that really aren’t spam.

And I was thinking that AT&T was my ISP. Actually, it was, but AT&T sold the whole smear to Comcast for Craptastic service.

Amanya Wannahearfrom says:

More Please. Good Stuff

That tip you left at the end of article about not using ISP email solutions. That was very telling, in an arena I was unfamiliar. Thank you.

I suggest more of that, do not fear telling what we already know (some will always know) but tell us to remind us, and inform, as you really ARE (whoa!) more informed than average tech-joe. Therefore you enlighten many with your little added views, as long as they are not turned into “You should” but left nice and general, just what you are familiar with.

Nick says:

ISP Mail is not a bad thing.

“Either way, it’s a reminder not to use your ISP’s email solution.”

As an ISP, I’ve got to relay that I’m insulted. I work VERY hard to ensure our spam filters are as accurate as possible while maintaining a low false positive rate. I also feel very strongly that automatic spam deletion should ALWAYS be OPT IN ONLY.

Perhaps using a large ISP’s mail solution may be problematic, but if you have a small ISP don’t just ignore their mail solution.

We are a small ISP, but we spend a lot of money on anti-spam software & subscriptions; and find that our filtering is often more accurate than that provided by hotmail & yahoo mail – yet end users insist on using poorly filtered “freemail” services because “it has good spam filtering”.

Half the battle is in choosing the right software. Here’s a tip: it isn’t Spam Assassin. SA is quite possibly the *worst* choice you can make for anti-spam. It’s terribly inaccurate, and the learning procedures don’t work very well. On top of that, it requires gobs of CPU to run.

The biggest shortcoming of SA is that it’s open source. While I am a big supporter of open source, what is normally a good thing works against SA. The spammers have programmers too. They go to the same site that mail server admins use, download the same source, then figure out how to worm their way right through the tests.

rkme says:


I have a screen shot of an at$t employee and myself in im at dsl online help. I had been waiting for a key to unlock some software and at$t blocked my whole acct. and couldn’t tell me why because of security reasons. I had to ask “who’s security”? I explained that if it wasn’t for me the acct. wouldn’t exist. I asked him if it got stuck in the spy vac. Took me 3 hours (and the week they held it) but I got the key. Now I’m trying to get the upgrade key. AT$T blocked my yahoo mail acct.too. But as you all said there’s hot horny teens and dogs available in my inbox. What a joke. I paid for the software I’ll probably get sued too.

Michael Armstrong (user link) says:


Well, there is also the fact that ORDB, which was retired in December 2006 just set their systems to return false-positives. It seems there are some sysadmins that haven’t removed ORDB from their filtering and the ORDB folks are tired of it.

Couldn’t you just see AT&T having used ORDB for their filtering but never bothered to remove it when it was retired?

Lexrst says:


I have been fighting with AT&T for the last couple weeks trying to get a mail server I administrate off their ‘improved’ RBL. Every time I talk to them they want to know my AT&T account info. I AM NOT AN AT&T CUSTOMER… I just want to send mail *to* AT&T’s customers. This is apparently a foreign concept to them.

I finally told one of the tech support reps that *he* was the AT&T customer I was trying to send mail to. Even that tactic failed.

Part of the problem is that even though mail was failing to *all* AT&T domains (,,,etc), they kept insisting that all those domains had their own individual mail server systems. If that’s the case, how come all the bounce messages refer to


Their employees have absolutely no sense of customer service.

abusive says:

Yes most solutions don’t allow users to claim suspect emails as not spam this is frustrating, and you still get the Watch and Viagra spam as the previous poster stated. Meaning that, with all their efforts and pain and misery they cause with filters its all for not. Or its an allowed known server ignored by the filter possibly a customer of the ISP thats blacklisting your church social newsletter.

Look for another provider or even a free service like Gmail.

Admitted world high volume emailer Scott Richter is some how linked to scamming people into so called free ringtones and collecting his money through who??? you Guessed it verison, at$t, sprint after they take their cut. Alleged by CBS news

Have a happy


Brian says:

Same problem here

I’m am getting so frustrated with sending mail to any sort of AT&T domain. I work for a small financial services firm and we run our own exchange server internally. In the past 2 weeks, I have had dozens of emails bounced from, and mailboxes because we have been placed on the RBL. Problem is, I check all of the RBLs and my domain and IP are no where to be found.

I’ve submitted this to ATT and they tell me that we are unblocked and in fact have never been blocked.

Then another message gets bounced 20 min later!!!! Argh… They really need to start communicating across their own domains to solve these problems. I’ve got frustrated users and no suggestions for them at this time.

Josh says:

if you are being blocked you need to fill out like was posted before.

Also if spamguard is checking your mail you can turn it off in the mail preferences.

You can also log into your webmail account at and check the bulk folder to make sure your mail isnt in there. If it is, check the check box to the left and click “Mark” which will mark it as not spam

Brian says:

Josh –
Not sure if you were responding to me or the world, but I did fill out one of those forms @ That’s how I got an emailed response from them telling me I had never been blocked. Interesting thing is that the email they sent me only referred to and, while my bounces have been coming from and addresses.

Sounds to me like someone at AT&T pressed the wrong button.

Tony Yarusso (user link) says:

Comcast does the same thing.

Only after someone contacted me about my lack of response to something did I find out that Comcast was blocking and deleting mail too, with no way to see what messages were blocked nor manually whitelist addresses. I managed to contact their support techs, and their response was basically “you didn’t want that mail – trust us”.

fastoy says:

AT&T Spam Filter

I intentionally route my e-mail through to take advantage of their spam filters. If anything, I have perceived that their filters, while still good, have been somewhat LESS effective over the last couple of weeks. I’ve attributed that to new tactics by the spammers. In any event, my account has a Mail Guard folder that holds 7 days of e-mails considered as spam so that I can review them.

Terry (user link) says:

AT&T (

I use an attglobal account. It offers me options that I can take or not. For example
1. Use the ISP auto-filtering or opt out of it
1.a. if yes, deliver spam stamped with *Suspected Spam* or
1.b. move to an accessible spam folder for a 2 day retention

2. Create a few filters of my own based on From, To, Subject, Received, Message body – contains/does not contain – test value
[AND size restraints]
[AND date after / before]
Then various actions
3. Create a block list for blacklisting
4. Create an accept list for whitelisting
5. Out of Office message

The user accessible spam folder has options to report false positives and move them to the inbox.

Now I don’t know if all that applies across the board to all AT&T offerings – I know there are several – but I thought it would be useful to inject a few deflationary facts into the hot air.

(Of course, I also use MailWasher as a front end to mop up any spam that evades the filters, but that is under 1%).

victor louis says:

Anti spam webinar

Spammers Vs Today’s spam filters

Today’s spam filters are not accurate and spam volumes are increasing rapidly. This will cost $42 billion for US alone. Spammers are using more innovation technology to send spam mails & Today’s spam filters are blocking only 80% of spam mails.

Register for a complimentary Webinar conducted by Abaca and Ferris research to know more about the spammers behind the black market. To register please click the link below:

Steve B says:


The mighty AT&T still think they are the only game in town. Poor service, 30 minutes of recordings to MAYBE get to a human on this side of the world. It is a crock!

I had a dedicated dial up line for years First they throttle the data from 56k to 28.8 (on a good day) then the line got static & cut out. The service was so messed up I couldn’t even pay my bill online at home. After trip after trip by service who couldn’t find the noise. I finally just had them cut the lines & I am now using Verizon wireless Broadband (At&t has no DSL in my area either)

They just all around SuCK!

Juliana says:

How can we get our junk mail back??

I’m concerned that because of the new spam filters, I’m missing out on legit emails. Instead of going into my bulk mail folder like they used to, they’re simply disappearing into cyberspace. How can we force ATT/Yahoo to loosen up on the new spam filters? I can’t afford to miss out on client inquiries, etc.

What can we do? When I call them they don’t seem to know what I’m talking about, although they have tried to be helpful.

Tina says:

ATT SUCKS UP Emails with disregard.

some of my family have bellsouth/ATT acounts and suddenly over the weekend I can no longer. send emails to them because all of a sudden my little graphics company is a “spammer” to them. I cannot even get them ATT/BS) to respond to me except for their lame autoresponders. This should be illegal. isn’t this censorship or something?

the HUGE question here is
I amtelling everyone I know to change thier ATT/Bellsouth services to something completely els.
still angry. T

Paw says:

ATT Blocking legit emails worse now!

It appears that AT&Ts filtering system in on high task again with blocking legitimate emails. Interestingly enough, it will block an email from person A one day, let another email from person A through the next day, and then block another email form person A on the day after. I have been told it is random filtering.

Problem is, I don’t know what I am not getting since I get no notification! I am losing business because of this and can’t ask all my clients and employers to go through a process to ‘approve’ their email accounts. Egads!

How can we as consumers stop this?

Robert C says:

Their RBL removal form is broken!

For those who have tried to use their form to get removed from their RBL, there’s a good reason why.

I tried using their form today. When they sent their response back, they had put a “1” in front of the IP address I entered. So this IP address:

Turns into:

That’s why they say they can’t find you IP address, because their form is reporting it wrong.

I sent them an email to their abuse email address and told them that their form is defective. I haven’t heard back from them yet (it’s only been a few minutes).

So don’t waste your time on their from! Just send them an email at

David Baird says:

ATT Blocked emails

I am not an ATT customer but have been “permanently blocked” 4 times in the past 4 months. I believe all I have to do to get blocked is to send a URL embedded in an email. ATT is polite, helpful, clears the problem and the next email I send with a URL, I am once more blocked for all time until I contact ATT, fill out their little form which begs forgiveness.
Does anyone know of a fix for this?

Dave Jones says:

AT&T still blocking

A couple of days ago our company noticed that customers who have AT&T email accounts were not getting our emails. Yes the NDR sent me to the web page where i could beg them to un-blacklist our server. Been two days, no response. Sent email to as listed on their website. No response other than an automated message asking me to visit their website.
We host our own email servers, and no other domains are rejecting our emails. I also took the step of checking DNSBL’s website and our IP shows as clean for the dozens and dozens of abuse lists they check.
Seems like AT&T just blocked us for no reason what so ever and refuses to reply to requests for information.
If anyone finds an actual phone number for a non-customer to speak to someone, please let me know.
This is costing our company business and our owners are not happy.

GJK says:

still blocking after all these years

Had a bout with ATT/RBL six months ago, and after filling out their RBL abuse form was able to get the client free. But now they’re being blocked again, only this time, there are no NDRs, so I can’t submit the abuse form, which won’t go through without a line from the NDR. Looks like ATT has finally found a solution to its problem with people complaining.

dave says:

ATT blocked emails

Started this week.
Today is 10.03.09
We have about 20,000 people whom we have dealt with in the last 11 years in business.
With all the changes in Healthcare “reform” occuring we send out a periodical newslater. If someone wants to be removed, we do that.
We’ve dealt with them on this in the past. Trying to get a staight answer out of them is about impossible, but our understanding was that as long as we didn’t send more than 2000 emails per hour we were being “anti spam compliant.”
We don’t even send 1000 per hour when we send and after about 11/2 to 2 hours of sending they block us for an hour.
$400 per month to them for this?
If anybody has a real suggestion we are open to it. We have an 800 # also to deal with.
ATT now provides the 2 landlines (one used to forward the 800 #) and the other for a fax and the dsl internet connection.

ailhasannn (user link) says:

Mail washer

mail washer is a program to help you get rid of spam and viruses in your e-mail. mail washer allows you to preview all aspects of your e-mail on the server before you download it to your computer, thus protecting you from spam, viruses, phishing attacks, and other nuisances.
It is very necessary to protect your emails, as if you are a webmaster or a web developer you should aware of it that why it is very important , let me explain the very important thing that for increasing your SEO you should save your mails that out comes from different spammers
mail washer


1- Never buy anything, do not use any service that spam is the pub!
Spamming spammers to make money. If we refrain from them to save in this way, it is we who will win and we will release the spam! More spam is now clearly and explicitly illegal in France and in many countries around the world. The rule is opt-in, ie the prior consent of the internet, before you can send them by email commercial or advertising requests.

2- Never respond to spam.
Of course, they say they’ll keep safe their email lists. This is wrong! All they want is to know if your mail is valid. If you answer, knowing that there is someone at the end of this email , they sell it to all the spammers of the world and you would be more spammed!

3- Do not put your email address in plain text on your web sites.
Encode with the script above! Spammers or companies selling email address lists to spammers, scan the web with the “robots” (software scripts) and collect all the addresses they can then sell and / or spam! Read this page to find out how and why you need to encode your email addresses on your websites!

4- Use a different email address on the web (blogs, forums etc..).
As before, the spammers are harvesting email addresses on these blogs, forums etc.. So you create a “public” email address from a free provider and keep your personal email protected from spam (only for friends, characters contacts, work etc …). You can change and public address when you want, when it has been spammed.

5- Do not give your email address without knowing how it will be used.
If a website asks for your email address is that it has to do something! Read the Terms of use and the records privacy statements on web sites before giving them your address. If you can not find these instructions on the sites, especially not give out your address.

6-Use a spam filter.mail washer
Anti-spam software can help them better manage their email software to automatically sort through your emails and spam, or even delete many spam even before they arrive in your box!s

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