The Australian Small Business Blog

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Are you a victim of identity spam?

by Dr Greg Chapman

I have noticed on a couple of my older, personal email addresses that I was getting “Mail Delivery Failure” emails for mail I did not send to people I did not know. I was concerned that my computer was being hijacked and asked my computer guru Andrew what was happening.

Here I share his response as others may also be affected:

When I run some tests ( on the domains you mentioned I see the following:

Your domain does not have an SPF record. This means that spammers can easily send out E-mail that looks like it came from your domain, which can make your domain look bad (if the recipient thinks you really sent it), and can cost you money (when people complain to you, rather than the spammer). You may want to add an SPF record ASAP, as 01 Oct 2004 was the target date for domains to have SPF records in place (Hotmail, for example, started checking SPF records on 01 Oct 2004).

I have recently been receiving similar "failed messages" which did not come from me. I fixed up my own "SPF records" and voila, no more messages.

Yes, they are spam, sent out by someone with no connection to you, from a computer with nothing to do with you, your computer, or your web sites, but they are sending the email out as you because they can.

The idea of an "SPF record" is that it advertises which mail servers can reasonably be expected to send out email as you. If email comes from a computer not advertised in your "SPF record", the receiving computers can assume it is spam. Otherwise, or if there is no SPF record, they will deliver it. The bounced messages are because the intended recipient doesn't exist, which is what is alerting you to the fact that there is a problem!

This site for more info:
It all looks a bit daunting but there is a tool/wizard to help you formulate a sound SPF record.
The place to fix it is where you advertise your "MX" record.
Let me know if you would like more guidance on this.

Andrew Of course, I was just seeing the tip of the iceberg - the bad email being rejected. There were probably many times more than this getting through, in my name, that I was unaware of.

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Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and is Australia's Leading Advisor on Emerging Businesses and provides Coaching and Consulting advice to Australian Small Business Owners in Marketing & Business Strategies Planning & Systems. He is also the author of The Five Pillars of Guaranteed Business Success and Price: How You Can Charge More Without Losing Sales.

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