Viewing Spam

How we filter your spam, questions about the Spam section and spam in general.
1. Viewing spam in the Spam Section
2. Emailed Reports and RSS
3. Troubleshooting and Questions

1.1. How can I view Held Messages?

To view all messages that were held by the spam filters, first navigate over to the spam section. You can click on the 'Spam' button at the top of the page after you log in.

When you reach the spam page, navigate over to the right side of the page. In that section, you'll be able to choose your view. To view Held messages, click on the link that says "Held Messages".

There are also other views that show messages we've held for you, such as Quick Check, or For Review.

You can see a short preview of the message content by clicking on the subject line of the message. It shows the first segment of the list message, unstyled. To view the full message or any attachments, you should release the message.

1.2. How can I view Bounced/Blocked Messages?

To view all messages that were bounced/blocked by the spam filters, first navigate over to the spam section. You can click on the 'Spam' button at the top of the page after you log in.

When you reach the spam page, navigate over to the right side of the page. In that section, you'll be able to choose your view. To view bounced/blocked messages, click on the link that says "Bounced Messages".

Bounced messages are bounced when the message sender tells us who they are. That happens before they tell us what they want to send. So, we don't have the message content. We can't show it to you or let you release it, because we don't have it.

1.3. What does it mean to "Release Checked + Delete Others"?

Using the button "Release Checked + Delete Others" does three things:

  • it releases any held messages you have checked
  • it requests confirmation to add the checked messages' senders as Trusted Senders (you need to use the button again on the following page to confirm whether or not the person should be added)
  • it deletes all the unchecked messages on the page

Messages are automatically released to the address or addresses that are shown after "Legitmate messages are sent to." If you want to change where messages are sent, do so before clicking the "Release Checked + Delete Others" button.

If you only want to release a message or mark a sender trusted, select the messages you want to release, then click on the button "Released Checked Only". You can still search and scroll through pages, if you prefer. Releasing and deleting messages as you go, though, makes sure that you're never re-reviewing messages you've already seen.

1.4. How can I review my spam more quickly?

We recommend that people review their spam for the first 2 weeks of their account (or the first 2 weeks after they make their spam settings more aggressive.)  After that, you do not need to review or delete your spam.

If you wish to continue reviewing your spam, we have created a few tools to help.

Views

By default, all Pobox users start out viewing All Spam when you come to the Spam section.  Depending on how much spam you get, though, that might take you a long time to review.  We've created several different slices of your spam, listed under My Views, that could make your list of messages to review much shorter.  Each view, including All Spam, will tell you how many messages are included, and how many of them you released. We'll then say:

Reviewing these messages regularly is a slow/fair/good/great way to find missing messages.

This should let you know which view will show you greatest number of messages that need your attention.

In general, we think the Quick Check view is the best view for quick reviewing, since it removes the messages caught by our most accurate filters (i.e. the ones most likely to be spam.)

Emailed Reports

You automatically receive an emailed report that contains any messages held by your filters.  You can customize it to only include messages from a particular view.  If you switch between checking messages on the website and checking messages on your report, clicking "Delete Listed Messages" in your report ensures that you don't review them again on the web.  Switching your spam settings to Aggressive bounces the messages most likely to be spam, and also reduces the number of messages to be reviewed.

 

1.5. How can I delete my spam?

We recommend reviewing your Spam for any legitimate mail that might have been accidentally caught. Once you've reviewed your messages, if you wish, you can delete them by clicking "Released Checked + Delete Others". All the messages on that page (except any that you've checked to have released) will be deleted immediately. If you only want to released messages, and not delete others, you can select the messages you want to release, and click on the button "Release Checked Only".

Messages can be deleted from any of the spam views, and from the All Spam listing. If you do not release a message within 30 days, it's automatically removed.

Messages cannot be removed from the Released list.  We list messages there that you have released to yourself, so it serves as a record that the message has been released.  Messages are automatically removed from the Released view 30 days after they were originally caught.

Messages also cannot be removed from the Emailed Report pages.  Marking a message deleted from the Emailed Reports pages removes them from the spam views, but not from the report page itself.  Again, this is because those pages serve as a record of the messages that were included in the emailed report we sent you. 


 

1.6. Do I need to delete my spam?

You definitely DO NOT need to delete your spam.  In fact, the first version of the Spam page didn't have a delete option, because we didn't think people would want to review it that closely!  Deleting is there as an option for people who like to review their spam frequently, and wish to remove the messages they've already gone over. Held messages will automatically be removed after 30 days, so you don't need to take any action unless you want to release any messages accidentally caught.

Some ways that Pobox staffers review their spam:

  • Search only -- only search for messages when you've been told about missing or bounced mail
  • RSS: review any view in your RSS reader (an RSS link can be found at the top left of every view page)
  • get an emailed copy of the Quick Check view
  • use Aggressive to bounce really obvious spam, and get an emailed copy of Held messages

All of us send our mail out through Pobox, which automatically adds our correspondents as Trusted Senders.  Trusted Senders help make sure that real people we correspond with always get through, which makes reviewing spam much less necessary.

1.7. What is in the "For Review" View?

The For Review view contains messages that are caught by the spam conditions that most frequently catch real mail. For your convenience, we've automatically put them in one place, so you can review them, without seeing messages that are caught by our extremely accurate conditions. If we catch a lot of spam for your account, reviewing this list should be much quicker than reviewing any other view.

If you use our Standard settings, you won't ever see messages in this view. (Anything we recommend as a standard setting should catch no more than one legitimate piece of mail for every 500 pieces of spam it blocks.) Only our most aggressive conditions will catch messages that appear in this view.

1.8. What is in the "Quick Check" View?

The Quick Check view includes held messages that were caught by conditions other than our 3 most accurate conditions. The conditions which are excluded are SpamCop, Abuseat and Spamhaus. Our system statistics show that not only do those conditions catch the largest percentage of spam, they are also among the most accurate.

By removing them from the Quick Check view, we hope we can pare down your list, to eliminate the ones least likely to be legitimate mail. While many of the remaining filters are still very accurate, eliminating those most accurate ones can remove as many as 50% of the messages you would otherwise find in your Held Messages view.

1.9. What is Delivery Status, and what can it tell me about my released messages?

The Released Messages section includes Delivery Status, so you can tell what is going on with your released message. (If you don't see Delivery Status in your message listing, click "Edit Columns", then check the checkbox next to Delivery Status, and Save.)

Queued messages have been tagged for release, but have not yet been sent to you. There is no need to release this message again; we will send it shortly.

Sent messages were successfully sent to your account. If you did not receive the message, check any Junk Mail or Spam folders you may have at your ISP. If we picked a message up as spam, it's somewhat likely that your ISP would pick it up as well. If you do not find your message, please contact your ISP for assistance locating it.

Bounced messages were rejected by your ISP. This could be because of a problem with your account (like your mailbox is over quota), or a problem with the message (like it's triggering their aggressive spam filters.) If you think it was a temporary problem, release the message to yourself again, and we will try to resend it. You can also try adding a temporary forwarding address so you can send it somewhere else.

 

1.10. Tips on Spam Section advanced features.

You can navigate through the pages using your keyboard.  Just tab down the messages to select ones you want to release, and hit return to submit the page.  Or navigate down to the pagination box, where you can select a new page number by number, or using your arrow keys.

You can re-order the rows by clicking the header for the row you wish to move, then dragging it to your desired position.

Editing your columns to add "Caught By" will show the filter that caught your message.  Messages discarded by your personal Email Filters will just show "filter".

1.11. See spam time displayed in your local time zone

The time shown in the Spam section is, by default, our local time.  We can show it in your local time, though!  Just go to the Contact Information page, and save your time zone information.  (We try to take our best guess for your time zone, but it's not added to your account unless you save -- so don't forget to save!) If you go back to the Spam section, all the times should be adjusted immediately.

 

1.12. How can I clear my OLD spam from your site?

Using the "Released Checked + Delete Others" button is a great way to stay on top of your spam. However, if you want to clear out your old spam, it can be time-consuming. To clear your old spam out, we recommend going to the Emailed Reports page. Each report will have a button at the top of it that will delete all the unreviewed messages in that report. So, if you review your emailed reports regularly, you can use those buttons to delete your old spam safely.

If you don't use emailed reports, and would like to delete all your old spam, you'll find a link to do so at the bottom of this page.

Any messages pending review in your caught messages will automatically be removed after 30 days, so you can also opt to wait for messages to remove themselves.

Please note: Clicking this link will DELETE all the spam you have that is more than 12 hours old. Do not click this link if you have not actually reviewed this spam; you will not be able to get it back. That means if there is legitimate mail mixed in with those messages, you will not be able to retrieve them. PLEASE use this link with caution.

http://www.pobox.com/spam/catch-up

1.13. What does it mean when the From: address and Envelope Sender don't match?

There are many reasons why the From: address and the envelope sender (which is the address mail servers see) may not match.

Legitimate reasons include:

  • it's a mailing list message. The From: will show the person who sent the message, but the envelope sender will be an address at the company that provides the list.
  • it's a forwarded message. Pobox messages use SRS (sender rewriting scheme) to forward mail, so that errors and complaints come back to us.
  • it's an automated message.  Your company might send calendar notices, for instance, from a real person's address, so they can get replies, but bounces and other computer-generated replies should go to another place.

However, there are also malicious reasons. Phishing is the number one malicious reason to have a different envelope sender and From: address. 

When sending a phish, you need to bypass as many spam checks as possible. Some email authentication protocols check the envelope sender.  Most banks and other financial institutions use all the authentication protocols out there, to catch as many fakes as possible.  Using a different envelope sender allows the malicious sender to bypass those checks.

You can see the envelope sender of messages we catch as spam by adding a column from the "Edit Columns" button.


2.1. Can I stop my reports from going to certain forwarding addresses?

If you have a Pobox Plus or Mailstore account, you may wish to send your Spam report to only one address on your account. If so, you can direct your emailed spam report to one address.

2.2. Which spam view should be sent?

We send the Quick Check view by default.  This removes spam caught by our most accurate spam filters (that have false positives of less than 1 in 2,000.) This means you don't have to go over messages that are almost definitely spam, and you can focus your attention on a shorter list that has a higher likelihood of containing real mail.

If you want to make sure that you review every message we hold for you, you can switch to the "Held" view.  If you use the Aggressive settings, and you only want to review messages held by the most aggressive filters, you can use the "For Review" view.

We do not recommend using the Bounced or All Messages views for emailed reports.

2.3. I'm not getting my emailed reports. Should I switch to the summary?

Because Spam reports contain the email addresses and Subjects of many, many spam messages, ISPs that use content filters (which examine the text of the message) often identify the reports as spam themselves. Please check any Junk Mail or Spam folders your ISP may be keeping for your missing report. Also, ask how you can make discard-report@pobox.com a trusted sender, so future messages will bypass their spam filters.

We can also send a summary report, rather than a complete listing. While you would not be able to review your spam directly in a summary report, it would contain a direct link to the contents of that day's "report". If your ISP's spam filters are consistently picking up the full report due to content, a summary report may be the best alternative. Turn on summary reports for your account under "Summary or Full Content?".

Finally, if you would like to be able to automatically see when new spam comes in throughout the day, you can subscribe to an RSS feed of messages we discard for your account.

2.4. What is the RSS feed?

The Spam section allows you to get your spam as an RSS feed. It's a great way to keep an eye on your spam if you think the daily report doesn't come frequently enough, and you don't want to come to the Pobox site to keep checking it. You can get a separate feed for each of your spam views by right-clicking the feed icon RSS icon on each page.

An RSS feed is a way for a website to send you information, automatically. You use a program or website known as a '''feed reader''' to make a list of your feeds. For most feed readers, you just give it the URL of the page that includes a feed icon, and it will find the feed URL for you. Lots of sites use it -- blogs, news sites, Flickr -- any site that you come back to frequently probably has a feed, so you can be automatically notified when new items are posted.

With RSS, your feed reader checks your sites, automatically, for new content. When it finds new content, it brings you the information, with a link back to the original. So, in the case of Flickr, it would show you new pictures posted by your friends. With CNN, it will show you new news articles. With your favorite blog, it will show you new posts. Once you read the article, it's automatically removed from your feed list. If you don't read them, they will continue to add to the list for that site.

With the Spam section, it will show you all the content you see on the site about your spam. It will show you the Message Subject, who sent it, what address it was sent to, and include a link to release the message. It will be added to your feed reader as "My Spam, Blocked by Pobox.com".

2.5. Can you turn off my spam reports or change their frequency?

All accounts are set up to receive daily spam reports when they are created.

If that's too frequent for you, you can switch to weekly reports, or turn them off entirely.

If that's not frequent enough, you can receive hourly reports, or subscribe to the RSS feed for your Spam, which is updated every 15 minutes.

You can also customize the content of your spam filters at the Emailed Spam Report settings page.



3.1. I'm not seeing any messages in my Spam list!

If you're looking at a view that doesn't have any messages, you should see the notice, "No unreviewed spam caught by filters in this view in the last 30 days."  If you do not see anything between the table header row (beginning with Date, Time Ago, etc.) and the "Release Checked + Delete Others" button, your browser is not loading the Spam listing correctly.

The most common reason for this failure is that your browser has disabled the localStorage option.  We use localStorage as an alternative to cookies for this table, because our table tool saves your table settings, page number, etc., locally as you browse, and that information can exceed the maximum cookie size. 

By default, localStorage is enabled in browsers at least as new as Internet Explorer 8 (must be running in IE8 mode, not IE7), Safari 4, Firefox 3.5 and Chrome (which auto-updates as you run it, so you shouldn't have to worry about its version.)  Browsers older than this cannot use the Spam section.  If you are using one of these browsers at that version or higher, and you cannot view your Spam, please confirm that localStorage is active.

In Firefox: go to about:config.  Search for dom.storage.enabled. Confirm it is set to "true". If it is not true, double click on the setting to change it to "true".

 

In Chrome: Click the settings icon in the top right corner.

Select Settings->Show Advanced Settings , then click the "Content Settings" under Privacy. 

 

Confirm it is set to "Allow local data to be set".

 

In Safari: Disabling localStorage can only be done through Terminal. If you have disabled it, please re-enable it using the same Terminal command set to "true".

In IE: Click "Extras".  Go to "Internet Options" -> "Advanced".  Under "Security", check "Enable DOM-Storage".

3.2. How does Pobox identify spam?

Pobox uses a series of conditions to identify messages as spam. Those conditions are noted in the Spam section for bounced messages, and in the message headers as "X-Pobox-Antispam:".

When you release a message to yourself, we make note of which condition it was caught by, and use that to determine how accurate it is. For details on how accuracy is used to segment the conditions into Weak, Standard, Aggressive and Very Aggressive groups, please see the spam slider help page.

We also use by-country blacklists, to help people reject all mail from areas of the world that they know they do not have legitimate correspondents in. Because each person has different areas where they don't receive mail, we cannot create a system-wide "accuracy" rating for those blacklists, and you must turn them on yourself.

3.3. How can I report spam that Pobox missed (false negatives)?

Although our spam protection can be customized to your mail flow preferences with different aggressiveness levels and your Trusted Senders List, no spam filter is 100% accurate, and some spam may occasionally get through to your forwarding addresses.

If you are getting spam to your account, please make sure that your spam slider is set to Standard or higher before reporting a problem.  We require that everyone use Weak spam filtering, but Standard is our recommended minimum level of protection. We also suggest checking your headers to make sure the message wasn't sent from a Trusted Sender.  You will see "X-Pobox-Pass: email address is whitelisted" in your headers for messages sent from Trusted Senders.

If your filters are set to Standard or higher, you can help us continue to improve your spam filtering by submitting these system misses (known as "false negatives") to the Vade Secure false negative hotline.

If you are not a Mailstore user, forward the messages you wish to report to spam-feedback@pobox.com. If your mail program supports forwarding messages as attachments (mime/rfc822, for those in the know), please use that method when submitting messages. Mac Mail, Thunderbird, Outlook 2008, and mutt all support "forward as attachment"; please check the help documents for your mail program for more details on how to forward as attachment.

Mailstore customers can report a false negative by clicking "Report Spam" in the web interface, or by dragging the message they want to report to the "Spam" folder. This folder is checked periodically throughout the day, and messages are automatically submitted to Vade Secure. The "Spam" folder is created by Pobox for you; you should not create a folder with that name. "Spam" should always be visible on the webmail interface. If it is not visible in your email program, too, you may need to "resynchronize" your mail program; please see the documentation for the program you are using for instructions on resynchronizing.

If you are receiving more than a few pieces of spam a day, and you have already set your filters to Aggressive or Very Aggressive, please contact us.  Especially if you forward your mail to Pobox from another provider, we may be able to help reduce your spam significantly.

3.4. I increase my spam slider, but I still get the same amount of spam. Help!

Nearly all of Pobox's spam filters check the reputation of the computer that sends us mail.  And, normally, that's very, very accurate.  However, if you forward your mail to your Pobox address from another email provider, it doesn't work at all. Why?

Let's use Go Daddy as an example (though the same is true of any ISP, webmail or legitimate email provider.)  If you set up your Go Daddy account to forward your mail to Pobox, we check the reputation of the Go Daddy computer that sends us the mail.  Except in very unusual circumstances, the reputation of that computer should always be good, so mail coming from that computer will never get caught as spam.

There are several things you can do, though, so that we'll catch more spam.

1. Give people your Pobox address.  Mail that goes straight to Pobox will always be checked directly.

2. If you're using a domain, set up the domain at Pobox. You can move your email to us, without affecting your website.

3. Tell Customer Service where you're forwarding your mail from.  Tell us you have an "in-forwarding" address, and give us the address.  We'll look up the names of the computers where that mail comes from, and set up a new filter for you.  The new filter will look one step up the chain, and check the reputation of the computer that sent the mail to your "in-forwarding" address, instead of the reputation of your "in-forwarding" address.

If you don't forward your mail to us from another domain, but changes to the spam slider don't seem to affect the amount of spam you're getting, the next most common reason is that spam is being sent directly to your forwarding address.  Pobox Customer Service can help you try to figure out what's going on, though.  Get in touch with us, and we'll talk about what we can do.

 

3.5. Why can't I disable all spam filters?

Most ISPs use the reputation of the computer that's sending a message as one of the most important factors in deciding whether a message is spam or legitimate mail.  For their purposes, "reputation" means, what percentage of mail coming from that computer is spam?

For nearly all accounts, over 80% of all the mail Pobox handles is, objectively, spam.  To your ISP, it does not matter that you have asked us to forward it there.  They only care that 80% of the mail coming from our computers is spam.

If you could remove Spam Protection from your account, all mail from Pobox could be rejected by your ISP, and not just for your account, but everyone using that ISP. To ensure that all Pobox customers receive their legitimate email, there is a required minimum amount of spam filtering for all Pobox accounts.

3.6. I never received my released message!

If you did not receive messages you released from Spam in your Inbox, please click "Edit Columns" at the top of the Released Messages page, then check "Delivery Status".

If your delivery status is "bounced", we were not able to deliver your released message. This could be because of a problem with your forwarding address, or your ISP may be blocking certain types of spam at delivery time. We recommend trying to release the message again, or trying to release it to another forwarding address, if you have more than one.

If your delivery status is "sent", that means your ISP accepted the message after we sent it. If it is not in your Inbox, please check any Junk Mail or Spam folders your ISP may have for you. Messages that we pick up as spam are frequently also picked up as spam by ISPs. You may also wish to contact your ISP, to ask them what happened to your message.

Released messages are dated at the time they were originally sent, not the time you released them, so the message may not appear at the top of your Inbox. Try searching for the message sender to locate it.

You can release a message multiple times, if you believe that you received the message and it got deleted. Just go back to the Spam section and release the message again.

Finally, if you need your message in a hurry, and you just don't know where it's gone, remember, you can release a message to any one of your forwarding addresses. So, if you have another address you want to send it to, just add that address as a forwarding address, then release the message to that address. Don't forget to remove that address as a forwarding address afterwards, though, or a copy of all your incoming Pobox mail will be sent there!

3.7. Why can't I release all my spam?

We require all Pobox accounts have spam protection. This is because delivering spam to your forwarding address makes it hard for us to deliver real mail there.

Most ISPs use reputation information to determine whether to send mail to your Inbox or your Spam folder. The more spam it receives from a particular location, the more likely it is to declare all mail from that location spam.

Releasing mail from the Spam section sends it to your forwarding address, just as if we had never caught it in the first place. For that reason, there is a limit on how much spam you can release.

If you have a special reason you need to release spam, please contact us to discuss it.

3.8. What is my "Spam" folder?

The "Spam" folder is a fast an easy way to report spam, anywhere you read your Mailstore mail. You should see a folder in your Mailstore account, in your regular folder listing.

To report a message as spam, just drag-and-drop or move it to that folder using the "Report Spam" button. The reported message is held in the spam folder until you delete it from your account.

When you report a spam message, our content filter Vade analyzes the message content. Vade identifies shared elements in messages that may have come from different email addresses or locations, but that have all been reported as spam. All Pobox accounts run the Vade spam filter, unless you're an old custom user who hasn't upgraded to Pobox Recommendations. You'll need to upgrade to our current spam settings, or submissions to Vade work to improve filters that are automatically applied to your account!

In order to take advantage of the spam folder, your Mailstore account must be using IMAP. That's because only IMAP synchronizes changes you make on your computer with our server. POP3 accounts could put mail in the Spam folder, but we would never see those messages when the reporter ran, because they would only be on your computer. If you need to switch your account to IMAP, you can find instructions in the Help section.

Only Mailstore users can report spam using the "Spam" folder. If you would like to add this feature to your account, please upgrade to Mailstore today.

3.9. Why are you catching messages from my own email address?

It's very common for spammers to try to use legitimate email addresses when sending their messages, so they can get through any spam filters that may exist. One of the most common tricks is to send the message from the same address you are sending it to. As such, we will not add your own Pobox addresses as trusted senders to your account.

This can cause some occasional problems for your account. For instance, if you send a test message to yourself from another ISP, it might get caught by your own aggressive filters. However, making your own address a trusted sender would let through any mail that has your email address forged as the From: header (which can be quite a lot of mail per day.) So, we will not add your own address as a trusted sender, or other addresses our analysis indicates would cause a large volume of spam to be sent to you.

3.10. Why was this legitimate message picked up by a country filter?

The by-country filters are not blacklists. A blacklist only includes known spammer servers. The by-country filters include ALL addresses known to be in a particular country. As such, you should only use the by-country filters if you do not have any correspondents who live in that country.

Additionally, please note that Blackberry is headquartered in Canada. If you correspond with people who use Blackberries, do NOT turn on the Canada filter.