Why do I look like a spammer?

Nov 16, 2013, 3:00 PM | Updated: 3:00 pm

I am having an increasing number of emails that are sent from Gmail but not being received and aren’t in the recipient’s Spam folder. If I send it from my Cox address, they receive it. This is very frustrating. Any ideas?

— Eileen

It sounds like you may be one of the millions of legitimate senders that have become the casualty of the spam wars.

Spammers are getting more creative so it’s getting harder for spam filtering technology to tell the difference between spam and ham (legit messages).

To put it into perspective, most companies that analyze the global spam percentages put the number at 70-plus percent for the current year.

This means the vast majority of messages are spam (seven out of 10), so it’s almost like you’re guilty until proven innocent.

Most spam filters use a scoring system to decide whether to mark a message as spam and if your account is deemed to be a regular repeat offender, it gets blacklisted.

Tracking down the exact reason that your Gmail messages aren’t getting through can get very complicated and involves too many entities for you to have much luck filing a report with a particular company.

Let’s start with some basic mistakes that many people make that drives their spam score up.

If you have an email signature that automatically gets added to your messages, make sure there are no images (which can make it look like image spam) or web addresses in the signature.

If you include a web address that has been blacklisted or is on the suspected website list, your spam score will go through the roof.

If your address has been tagged as a “known spammer,” it won’t ever appear in the users spam folder because the message gets filtered by a global filter. The only messages that will appear in your friends’ spam folder will be messages that the global filter thinks is possibly legit mail.

There are also a whole basket of words that will trigger a high spam score if you use them in the subject line or they appear a lot in the body of the message. Check out Hubspot’s Ulitmate List of Email Spam Trigger Words for more on that.

It’s also possible that your address have been used repeatedly in spoofing scams by spammers, when they falsely use your address as the sender of junk messages.

You can try having your friend send a simple text message to your Gmail account that you reply to; if the reply gets through to them, make sure that your friend tells their email program to “always allow mail from this address” and have your address in their address book.

In some cases, your home or business IP address could be the problem because it’s been blacklisted. If you want to see if your IP address is a potential cause, visit the Blacklist Check.

If none of those things work, try creating a new Gmail account to see if those messages get through. If they do, your best bet is to transition to the new Gmail account and leave the spam tagged account behind.

You can set Gmail to receive messages from the old account but always reply as the new account (instructions are posted here) so you don’t miss anything that goes to the old account and everyone will automatically get your new address.

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Why do I look like a spammer?