I'm getting messages bouncing back to me, but I never sent them! What's going on?

This can be one of two things:

  • Virus activity - Almost all modern day viruses send themselves out using a faked return address. What this means is that you can receive messages like this even though you're not infected with the virus yourself. Here's what happens:
    • Joe Blow, who's got your email address stored somewhere on his computer, gets a virus.
    • Joe's virus generates thousands of email messages as it tries to send itself to every address it can find on Joe's computer. It finds your address on Joe's computer and uses it as the return address on these emails.
    • Some of Joe's virus-generated messages go to invalid addresses, or systems with automated virus checkers. The system where the message ended up sees your address in the return address of the message, so it sends you the error message.

    Receiving these types of messages does NOT necessarily mean you have the virus on your computer; however it's always a good idea to check and make sure your system is virus-free. For more information on this please go to our Virus prevention section.

  • Joe-Jobs: If you have your own domain name, spammers can find it and use it in the return address of the spam they're sending. This way they send the spam but you get the error messages when the spam goes to an invalid address, and you probably get the complaints, too. This is called a Joe Job, and unfortunately there's no way to prevent spammers from abusing your domain name in this way. What you can do:
    • Limit your virtual addresses: This is probably the easiest and cleanest way to deal with this. By default, mail sent to anything@yourdomain.com will go to you. The Joe Jobbers usually use odd email addresses like ajjekdy@yourdomain.com. If you only have a few email addresses for your domain that you actually use (ex. info@yourdomain.com, you@yourdomain.com), contact the Boreal office with those addresses, and we'll limit your mail so you only receive messages sent to one of the addresses you gave us. (NOTE: We can only do this if we're hosting your web site. If your site is hosted with someone else, you'll need to contact them with this request.) This will drastically reduce the number of bounce messages you're seeing due to a Joe Job.
    • Wait it out: Joe Jobs don't usually last more then a few weeks - then the spammer moves on to another innocent victim.
    • Filter it out: If you look at the body of the messages that are being returned you'll probably see some similarities. You may be able to set up mail filters to filter these messages out. See our Mail Filters section for more information.

    For more information on spam and spammers, see our Dealing with Spam section.