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Why Doesn’t Blocking Email Senders Work?

Blocking is futile.

No Spam!
Most email programs can block email from a specific address. Unfortunately, blocking email from a sender is ineffective when it comes to spam.
The Best of Ask Leo!
Question: How can I block addresses that come repeatedly to my junk email box? It says I am blocking email but it does not work.

Blocking email by the “From:” address is useless in the war against spam.

It promises to prevent email from a specific sender from reaching you, but if the sender is determined, the block is easily bypassed. And spammers are determined … boy, are they determined!

I’ll explain why blocking is pointless, and what I do instead.

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Blocking is futile

Trying to stop spam by blocking the sender is futile because spammers keep changing who the email appears to be from. The better approach is to mark spam as spam when it appears in your inbox. If it’s showing up in your spam folder, the system is already working properly.

Blocking versus the spam folder

You said the email is coming “repeatedly to my junk email box”.

That is the system working exactly as intended: spam should show up in your spam or junk folder rather than in your inbox.

In fact, depending on your email program or interface, that may be exactly what “blocking” means: “When an email from this sender arrives, put it in the junk folder.”

If this is the case, there’s nothing to fix because nothing is broken.

Misleading email addresses

Spammers work hard to mislead you. One technique — “From: spoofing” — makes emails appear as if they’re from someone they’re not.

Email addresses have two parts: the email address itself and an optional “display name”. For example, you might see:

From: Leo A. Notenboom <>

The display name is “Leo A. Notenboom” and the email address is

The display name is optional. When present, many email programs will display it in place of the email address. Your email program might show something like:

From: Leo A. Notenboom

Spammers use this to mislead you. For example:

From: <>

Here, the display name — not the email address — is “”. The actual email address is “”. So, in some email programs, you would only see this:


It looks like an email from, but it’s not — it’s really from

You can block “” if you like, but it won’t block this particular email because that’s not where it came from.

Ever-changing email addresses

There’s another technique spammers use that renders individual address blocking completely ineffective.

They don’t send email from the same address more than once.

You might get the exact same spam over and over, but each time it’ll be “From:” a different email address. You can block that address if you like, but it won’t stop the next email they send, or the one after that, or the one after that . . . because they all come from different email addresses.

Combined with the tricks spammers use to mislead you about what email address is really being used, things get confusing very quickly.

The short answer is that using Block the Sender to stop spam is a complete waste of time and effort.

Don’t bother.


If the email arrives in your spam/junk folder already, ignore it. The system is working.

If the message arrives in your inbox, mark it as spam or junk.

Marking it as spam will move the message from your inbox to the junk folder, but it also allows the service to learn what is and isn’t spam. As you report more and more spam over time, more of it will get blocked: the software will send it to your spam folder instead of your inbox.

Gmail’s spam filter seems to be particularly effective.

If that doesn’t work, I suggest you relax and use your Delete key. It’s simple, quick, and 100% accurate.

Showing up in the spam folder is the right thing

I need to reiterate that email arriving in your spam folder is exactly what should happen if that email is spam. Yes, there might be a lot (I get hundreds a day), but that’s the system working exactly as it should.

Trying to prevent the email from reaching you at all — meaning that it never shows up in your email account’s inbox, spam folder, or any other folder ever — is pointless. Spam exists, and currently there’s no way to stop it.1

The best you and your email service can do is deal with it after it arrives.

For your email service, that means analyzing and sending spam to your spam folder. For you, that means marking spam as spam when it shows up in your inbox, and occasionally marking legitimate email that shows up in your spam folder as “not spam”.

Is blocking good for anything?


Blocking email is good for anything that isn’t spam.

For example, if there’s a specific individual you want to block, you can block their email address.

But as I mentioned earlier, even then, blocking will be ineffective if they are sufficiently motivated to get through. All they need to do is get a new email address to send from, and those are easy to get.

Do this:

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Podcast audio


Footnotes & References

1: So called “Challenge/response” services are not a viable option, in my opinion.

138 comments on “Why Doesn’t Blocking Email Senders Work?”

  1. One approach which takes time, but seems to work is to identify the isp from the headers and complain to them. Several tiresome spam mails sent many times have stopped after I reported their activity to the ISP. Only works with reputable ISPs

  2. hi , i agree that the block option is not perfect but in hotmail it works for me mostly. I just delete the junkmail folder all at one time. also the sweep option helps a bit

    • My problem with autodeleting the spam folder is that every time I check mine, there’s something in there that shouldn’t be. Thunderbird seems to be particularly bad at learning from what I mark and what I unmark, what I consider spam. So, I’m stuck with actually looking in there and manually deleting every couple of days (or when someone says they sent something and it doesn’t show up in my main box).

  3. Check whether the JUNK Directory can be set to Delete IMMEDIATELY or after a given period such as 7 Days with my ISP.

    I have mine set to the “7 Days” Option; but I do go in about three times per day, do a quick check occasionally to see if there are any genuine messages – then Delete them en-bloc, ie a single instruction gets rid of 500 messages etc.

  4. I wish there was a way to destroy the computer that the email was sent from. I hate those Sex spams.

    But knowing that you can’t do that just keep deleting them. That works every time.

    • Truth! Been dealing with that crap for a decade and it’s ridiculous!
      Most of those messages come from fake addresses and with all the advanced technology we have I just don’t understand how no one has come up with a way to completely block spam from fake email addresses.
      People build robots that can operate on a friggin grape but nobody can figure out how to really block spam from reaching any of our folders. It’s crazy!

  5. In Hotmail, email blocking does NOT work! It seemed to for a while, but recently emails I have specifically blocked come right through. Contrary to your article, they have not been change to cleverly get through, but are exactly the same. Is this feature defective?? What do I do? Thanks..

    The problem with the coming back mails in the junk that you already ”sweeped” and ”blocked” is the following :
    you can sweep and you can block mails that you can direct to your Delete mails, or even not to come back ever, is that Hotmail have a capacity of only ‘500’ mail to block under Options/Safe and blocked senders !
    Anything more shows you during sweeping that it is blocked but in fact it is not !!!
    Under Options also, for the rules of sorting messages it has also a limit on the number ‘250’ if i remember and then it stops redirection of mails.
    Nowadays you need at least a good ‘2000’ capacity to limit what you receive and Hotmail is not expanding it.
    Already i mailed Hotmail on that but the answer always : How to sweep and it is a false statement because of the lomit on the volume to sweep.

  7. Microsoft software engineers write all kinds of programs in the field but how come they can not write a program that can block spammers. I think they do not want to do it purposely. Probably, they have financial interest.

    • You’re are right. Not only that. On occasions, they will intentionally put some of your mails in the spammer folder. This is to make you visit the spam (advertisment) folder everytime you want to delete the junk mails. This is free email services. They need to make money for providing the service.

        • The theory may be partially true. Advertisers range from
          those who honor the unsubscribe link and respect our privacy
          to spammers, with varying degrees of marketing aggressiveness
          in between.

          Webmail providers may be reluctant to antagonise those marketers
          in between by providing effective means of subduing email spam
          once and for all. But they know they must make a show of
          “fighting” spam, or “combatting” it.

          So they give us these useless blocking procedures. Most don’t
          even have the decency to just blacklist the offending mail via
          a right click menu option.

          And they tell us to report spam. That involves persuading a
          third party to “do something”.

          The best remedy is a webmail that provides an Exclusive Blocker
          that allows only mail from Contacts, includes the option to
          block the non-Contact mail at the webmail server, and has
          alias addresses of the sort provided by gmx and

          The Exclusive Blocker could be “aimed”, or assigned to any one,
          all, or any combination of these alias addresses. The aliases not
          using the Blocker can receive mail from those not in Contacts,
          such as old friends looking for us in social media. If the
          addresses are compromised, they can be deleted and replaced with
          a new alias, preventing any “woodpecker” spammers from returning
          with new false addresses.

          I’ve been using a version of this system for 5 years now with two
          AOL accounts, one Gmail account, and three alias address accounts,
          all managed with the LastPass password manager. I get no woodpecker

          However, it is possible AOL may be revising its formaT to exclude
          their Exclusive Blocker. If they do, then the strategic use of
          alias email addresses, coupled with the use of scrambled usernames
          such as, will keep the repeat spammers
          at bay. (Scrambled usernames prevent password crackers from brute
          force guessing of the username).

          These “woodpecker” spammers can be beat without relying on the
          cooperation of third parties when we use the tools that are available
          to us.

          • I’ve had otherwise legitimate companies which didn’t stop the mailings when I unsubscribed (a very rare occurrence, probably due to faulty website programming and not deliberate). In that case I marked them as spam and set a filter to send any email from them to the trash folder. That’s blocking but it takes a few more steps.

  8. @Najam,
    The problem is that the spammers are also good programmers. They are, by the very nature of what they are doing, always ahead of the anti-spam guys. Same thing with malware writers.

    The bad guys think of a new way to get through the system, and then the system engineers have to first discover the breach, and then write a new block. So the spammers are always ahead of the game because they are creating the game.

    You are absolutely right that they have financial interest. Unfortunately for us the “They” are the spammers. They do it because it works and they can make a lot of money from it.

    • The problem is you have to do it One at the time. In today’s spam world, blocking 500 to 1000 daily takes a lot of time. In my outlook 10, it freezes when I try doing mass “block sender” or just doesn’t work – nothing happens.

  9. I agree that the process of blocking the sender does not work, but I prefer to create a rule containing the offending “text” within the subject matter / title of the mail and that takes care of all the mails from spammed addresses, as it takes the content of the mail rather than the actual sender.

  10. When gaming in ONLY, my mouse goes jerky after 4 games and I have to restart PC and then it works again. Thank you. Hope you can help?

    PS I enjoy your newsletter very much.

  11. My ISP provides a service that I believe you can buy for your own use. It works better than any I have even seen, requiring only a glance once a week to free any false positives, which are very rare. it’s, and it typically blocks at least 95% of the spam going to four addresses, numbering more than a hundred, with maybe one mistake a week on one address. My (hotmail) acount does exactly what it promises, too. The senders marked go straight to the junk mail folder, where they are easily ignored and easy to delete.

  12. I agree with Ian Minterin his statement about blocking the “offending text” .
    I use Eudora and it has multiple choice’s as what to look for when creating filters for email.
    Eudora allows you to send it to the junk or trash mailbox (Eudora’s term for folders), your choice.

  13. I too had the same problem, rather i still do but what I did was buy a program called mailwasher and I run that program to see the who what and where, without downloading all that crap. I can then look to see if it is junk or not and with a simple click delete the junk from the good mail and it deletes it off my ISP email account and opens up my email program and downloads the good email automatically. This way I don’t even download the junk to my computer and it also keeps track of junk and malware and virus email and marks it for deletion. From what i understand is that it just gets the user name, subject and the first 20 lines if you need to see if it is good or not.

  14. Leave you spam in the spam filter for 30 days, then G-mail will delete it. They told me that a spam that sits in the spam filter thirty days is thought by the spammer to be a dead address and they will stop using that address. That’s what I do.

  15. I never delete spam, I let it go into g-mails filter and they delete it after 30days. It also shows how many spam are in the filter. Sometimes there 1500 or more, I could care less, and I never check it. The people or companies that I want to email me get through. I’m not concerned with any mail that doesn’t get to me. Just like my cell phone, if I do not recognize the number, I don’t answer it. And snail mail, if I don’t recognize the sender it goes right in my shredder unopened. There are to many junk emails, junk phonecalls and junk letters to waste my time on.

  16. I use Gmail in addition to AOL mail (which I joined in 1996). In spite of all the negative Internet comments about AOL service, it has done a good job handling SPAM emails to my account. Gmail also does a good filter job.

  17. In Thunderbird, I’ve had good luck with a filter that marks all email as spam and moves them to the junk folder if the sender is not in my address book. It works well for me because I almost never get email from people I don’t know.

  18. Thank you very much, Leo, for sharing your passion and knowledge with all of us! Personally I prefer to delete the spam folder manually, as I don’t receive much spam to create a rule in order to block them. A good idea could be to create a separate email address and use it in all public forums and web sites, and to have another email account that is suitable for private and serious purposes (work, family and close friends, to name a few). Best regards from Paraguay, South America

  19. Being an X_Army vet, I just want to know the IP Addresses location.. Leave the rest to me after that.. ;) I’ll guarantee a 100% spam blockage after that! It’s getting to the point now where the laws don’t protect consumers at all, and the local municipalities don’t care anymore. It’s funny how governments can DEMAND routes back to our information, but that same “standard” isn’t applied for protection to all… If a person can send something, then a person should have to be registered and accountable.

    We all know that each and every email DOES have a fingerprint. Governments use this information all the time to track sources. In my humble opinion, that SAME information should be kept on file as “record” by the ICAAN group and “PUBLICLY” displayed…

    Sure, a majority of information is sent from spamming services, and since these companies are making “profits” from our painful experience, they should be “publicly” available for reverse pain that we provide them… In my opinion, this would “quickly” bring about “balance” in internet accountability…

      • A simple easy solution, allow a user to block all email from a specific country. That would eliminate 80 %. But Microsoft, and Google either can’t or won’t.

        • It would be ineffective. While the spammers themselves may be located in other countries, they use vast armies of infected machines known as botnets. Much of the spam you get comes from compromised machines in your own country — more than you think these days.

  20. we use office 365 or office 2013, which i believe are the same thing. When block a sender, it does nothing. i still get mail from that exact same address to my inbox. if i right click on the email, and click on Junk Email options, i can see the address in the blocked senders list. Why doesn’t outlook use this list?

  21. Blocking DOES work. Most people only communicate with specific addresses. It’s only those in the tech industry that think it doesn’t. Block everything that is not in the list the you have selected. This used to be a logical and simple solution that worked for me. Why would you want unsolicited mail ever? All companies should have ONE official mailing address. Maybe there should be an official corporate directory example: Np variants, no deviations, no extensions. Thus, is a company wants it’s emails read it has to verify it’s existence using tax records or whatever to prove it is a genuine entity to get on ‘the list’. If you are not on the list, you don’t get in. ALL other emails get rejected unless an exception is created. ALL cmpanies on the list must sign up to a NO spam policy. None of this passion your details on to affiliates to bombard you with bullshit without you express permission. Boxes must be ticked if you want mail. No reverse psychology tricks of asking people to tick boxes if they don’t want mail, then switching it back an forth every time orders are laced. Yes we know your dirty marketing tricks.
    Job done.
    No spam!

  22. I am constantly receiving emails in my Inbox from Adnet. I have in the past unsubscribed, but I understand that will only generate even more. I block them, they still come through. I mark them as Spam, they still come through. How can I ever stop them inundating my Inbox?

  23. The best solution would be to charge for E-mail. Something like one mil per E-Mail. For most legitimate users that would just be pennies but the spammers would be put out of business.

    • Sounds like a good idea, but I don’t think it would be technologically implementable. If governments imposed a $0.001 tax, there would be too many workarounds possible. First of all every country would have to agree to impose such a tax, otherwise spammers could route the spam through non-participating countries, which is similar to what they do now, sending spam trough countries which don’t enforce cybercrime laws. And the nature of how email works, the spammers could bypass the legitimate channels.

  24. Hi, Your answer really didn’t address the problem I am experiencing. I have blocked not spam, but an address from an individual (in gmail). I have the email diverted from the inbox to the trash box. I have done this with a number of other people and it works just fine. With this one individual however, it is not working. The emails continue to show up in the inbox. What has gone wrong? What to do? Thanks.

  25. Excellent discourse…It answers my questions of why spammers etc cannot be blocked. They go to my junk mail but that is the best we can do. alas, that is too bad. I REALLY HATE THEM and would pay if that would do the trick.

    • I was sick and tired of all the spam I received coming from different email addresses. Besides even if I could them individually they still all got to my phone anyway. I needed to stop the spam at the server before it was distributed. I created a filter that checked the addresses/emails and compared it to my contact list and sent them to spam if their address/email wasn’t in my contact list. I now only check the spam folder at the server once or twice a week and add users I want to my contact list and delete the rest. Now I never see spam on my phone and it works great, except for the legit twits that use multiple address/email. It would be nice to be able to add a domain list to my contacts to take care of these exceptions.

  26. My gmail account continually marks my friend’s email as SPAM so that I have to spend extra time going to the SPAM Filter to read much of my friendly incoming.

    • Make sure to mark each as Not spam when that happens. Eventually Gmail will learn. Alternately you could set up a filter to skip spam for emails from your friend.

  27. Actually, this depends from the email program. In my other email when i block someone he can’t send me emails. But in Gmail…..
    This option is useless in Gmail.

    • I agree. When I block a specific address it means I don’t want mail from that address, period, not in my Inbox, not in my Spam folder. (I’m aware this does not work with a spammer.) In Yahoo mail once blocked I saw nothing from them. In GMail it comes in to the spam folder which is a complete annoyance as I then must see it. Who thought up that brilliant idea?

      • In Gmail and probably most other email providers, you can set a filter to send unwanted senders’ email directly to trash. I’ve blocked a few that way. But since spammers are constantly spoofing new email addresses, it’s a futile gesture. I only find it effective if I want to block a specific company which isn’t a spammer.

  28. why the hell should we have to change an email address that our lives have been connected to just because some hard-headed spammer cant take a hint that some people are just uninterested in their product or service. It should be made easier to block completely a HARRASSING spammer,call a spade a spade,since its useless to block them there should be a link or something to report a HARRASING spammer because thats literally what they are doing.

    • There are government websites for reporting spam, but I wouldn’t waste time reporting it to them because spammers do a good job of covering their tracks via spam bots and operating out of countries which don’t go after spammers.

  29. now that my blocked mail goes to spam would it be a good idea to also…. unsubscribe… to some of these emails or just that give the spammer more ammunition that he has found a real email address…or is it best just to DELETE

    • It depends. If it is a legitimate newsletter or service that you have subscribed to, always use their unsubscribe service and NEVER just send to spam. If you send them to spam then you are actually telling world-wide spam services that they are spammers. That makes it very hard on legitimate businesses who are trying to provide value.

      If it is some list that you have been put on without your permission, then never use the unsubscribe because that will just let them know that the email is a good one and you will get more spam.

      Bottom line… it is your responsibility to pay attention, know and remember what you are doing online.

      • Unfortunately some large businesses such as Frontier send emails without asking and with no unsubscribe option. Yes there are mega businesses that dense.

        • Just being a large well-known company doesn’t exempt their newsletters from being spam. No reason to protect their website from being labeled as spammers. My rule of thumb is if it takes more than 2 clicks (that’s one more than it should take) to unsubscribe, I mark it as spam.

          For example, I teach at a university. Somehow book publishers think they have a right to send offers to my college address. Those are, by definition, spam, even though it’s from a legitimate company. I feel no remorse giving those domains a bad reputation.

    • NEVER “unsubscribe” from spam. It just tells the spammer that you’re real, and that they can send you more spam. If YOU subscribed, then unsubscribe. If you didn’t subscribe and it just started arriving, then mark as spam, and delete.

  30. I did read the article. I have another question. When you go to unsubscribe, but don’t actually do it to let them know you are real, it shows the supposed domain that it comes from-which of course is different than what is shown like you said. I have tried to block that entire domain but am not having any luck. Is that not the real domain either? Thank you for your time and trouble. I am new to this.

    • Probably not. Spammers are quite crafty that way. The best – and often the only – thing you can do is simply mark the email as spam, and get on with your life.

  31. Gmail says you can block many adverstisers (forgot the number) I have only been able to block a few. Now when I try to block the ‘Block this Advertiser’ is greyed out. What gives?

  32. How about letting me block ALL email that arrives claiming to be from my own email address? I didn’t send myself any emails selling myself Viagra. So why can’t I just block all emails that claim to be from my own email? Just delete them before they get sent to my inbox or junk box. NOT THAT HARD FOR THE ISP TO SEE WHEN IT IS A SPOOFED EMAIL HEADER!

  33. Firstly; I am 87 years of age so the likelihood of some long lost benefactor dying and leaving me a fortune is highly unlikely, so I couldn’t care less what goes into my spam. Therefore what I would like is to be able to right click on my gmail spam button and just delete it without even look at some of the tasteless content.

    Perhaps someone can tell me how long it would take for the bad men and women to pick up on a new email address and continue pestering.

  34. Hi Leo,
    Just want to thank you for all the help you give. I’m 85 and have used computers at home and at work since basic and having to write my own programs. Needless to say this doesn’t help me now. I don’t even understand the techtalk. That’s why I appreciate you so much. It’s very frustrating at my age to try to figure out what someone in third grade is trying to explain to me. LOL Please keep up the great work. Maybe with your help I’ll understand icons and apps. (great grandson thought this was hysterical when I first got my laptop and asked him this question. I’ve gotten rid of my tower but I hate win10 which I accidentally let in two years ago. Win7 was the best but I can’t get it back. I had win 8.1 before my mistake but now the touch screen isn’t working so I depend on my mouse. Sorry I talk too much. Thanks again.

  35. This is the most thorough site I’ve seen so far that addresses the junk mail issue.Thank you. I have not been able to find an answer anywhere online as to why I get so much junk mail in the new “clutter folder” in my hotmail account. It is practically useless. Microsoft’s explanation for what is does is no help at all. Anybody have the same problem?

  36. I am using outlook 2010, outlook 2013 and outlook 2016 all getting emails from a gmail imap account. For all three versions of outlook I always have to let outlook highlight the email in my inbox, and then outlook will Apply the Junk filter and move the email out of my inbox. For example, if my inbox was empty and I received 5 junk emails, they would all be removed automatically from my inbox. If I received 1 good email, then five Junk emails – the 1 good email would be highlighted and the 5 remaining junk emails would not be processed as junk. They just sit in my inbox until they are highlighted. Any ideas?

  37. How about if someone at Microsoft, or elsewhere, wrote a programmer to send ALL your spam emails to each individual spammer?

  38. I, at one time modified the “Host” file to send them to 127.. Would like to reroute “.mmm” to nowhere. No longer to a *.COM that has no future in my world.

  39. I have used a programme called Mailwasher for years and it is great. It acts BEFORE files are downloaded to your PC, the intention being that if you bounce them then, the spammer’s computer may think your email account does not exist. Mailwasher itself will flag emails it thinks might be spam. Once you identify a sender or domain (and Mailwasher shows you the ACTUAL sender, not the screen name) as spam, you just blacklist it and any future emails from that source will always be flagged. Blacklisting a domain gets around some of the problem of spammers changing the email address they are using. I choose to check them and bounce, but you could also choose to delete automatically. They never hit your actual PC. If you’ve made a mistake, they are in a “deleted” folder in Mailwasher where you can recover them if need be.
    I like the fact I can see all emails BEFORE they hit my PC, so I never lose a good one to a Spam folder.
    I believe there is a free version too – but I have paid a small fee for a lifetime subscription which I think is money well spent! I have no connection to the company (FireTrust) before anyone thinks I’m advertising. If anyone is interested this is the website.

    • I used to use MailWasher too. It was okay, until my ISP realized what I was up to and asked me not to use it. This was a small (and very inexpensive) ISP. I guess he didn’t like all the excess emails (bounce messages) that I was sending out. Now I find it’s just as easy to hit the Junk button and have Thunderbird move the spam out of my way.

      I also set up a filter in Thunderbird to filter messages from people who are not in my address book to a separate folder. I don’t get many unsolicited emails that I actually want.

  40. How do i block spam evan i blocked spam from setting says more i press bocked i get every day spam i had enough please help

    • You don’t “block” spam. You simply mark spam messages AS spam, and eventually the email system you’re using starts placing messages like that into your spam folder automatically.

  41. Why, when I delete a spam message in Google, it shows back in my spam folder in about a minute. I have a theory that Google shares email and gets paid by spammers to send spam. Sounds like a crazy conspiracy nut, but Google’s spam filter does not seem to be doing anything. I don’t have one example of Google’s filter eliminating any spam from my Google account.

    • Yep, sounds like a crazy conspiracy.

      The spam folder is where spam is PLACED when it’s detected. It doesn’t “eliminate” spam, it simply directs it to the spam folder. That’s how spam filters generally work.

  42. I use AOL and I noticed despite marking spam I would get the same individual spam daily forever, having a look at where it comes from a lot are from the same email address with variations. If you want to block these individual sites you have to put a * between the dots i.e. supposing its you have to block * but also *.* it took me a while but I managed to get rid of the ‘floaters’.
    I blame the website address providers.

  43. A useful tip I have discovered, that seems to run contrary to advice these days, is to not put your name in your email address. I have my name in one email address I use (I have several)and have only given this email for official use, cv’s etc but it is constantly bombarded with spam. I have another email address which was the name of my business, which was a completely made up word. I have used this email for all my customers and business contacts for the last 6 years. It receives about 1 spam mail a month. Rather more manageable! Make it up folks!

  44. One sure way to succeed is to make a rule for particular words in subject or body. Take Viagra for example. Create a rule that looks for “Viagra” in subject or body, and if found, permanently delete the email. Offensive words? Do the same thing. You can’t do this for every spam mailing, but it will substantially reduce what you do get.

  45. Jon Doe
    August 25, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    why can’t the “Spam Folder” empty itself, say, every 10 minutes?

    August 25, 2018 at 2:47 pm

    Many do empty spam older than a certain amount of time. (Gmails is 30 days for example). 10 minutes isn’t nearly enough time to allow you to check for false positives periodically.


    • Perhaps. But there are SO MANY THINGS that could fall into that “shouldn’t it be up to us?” category that mail programs an interfaces would be horrifically bogged down in options and complexity. Honestly, if they’re going to add options, this isn’t one I’d prioritize at all.

  46. What I mean by my last comment is that we ought to be able to decide for ourselves what settings we want to put on emptying out the Spam Folders, shouldn’t we?

    An example of circumstances…. Let’s say a Woman had been living with a Man and he was very abusive so she manages to escape from him, but he keeps stalking her and sending her daily emails. And so she tries to block his emails because seeing them is very disturbing to her. But then she has got to see them al the time because after blocking his emails, she just has to see them once again in her Spam Folder and delte them. It makes no sense whatsoever to me. If she decides that she wants the Spam Folder emptied every 10 minutes, then shouldn’t that be her own choice to make? Why not allow People to create their own Spam Folder Settings and be able to set the rate of deletion of emails?

    I think that is one of the major problems that some of these people who create Programs have, is that they think themselves as some sort of ‘Deciders’ who should determine what is best for everybody, instead of allowing them to make their own choices. Just like Google, for instance with their ‘Google Doodles’ or whatever these daily things they put up are called It would be great if you could just not have to see that if you didn’t want to, and you could just turn it off. But I guess they have ‘determined’ that we need to be able to have to look at these things every day.

    • Depending on the service it would be a simple thing to set up a rule that immediately deletes email from a specific sender, bypassing the spam folder. Gmail can do this, for example.

  47. The problem with sending spam into Junk Mail folder is that I still have to sort through it. Mail that I do want ends up in there. Adding sender to contacts list doesn’t always keep mail out of spam folder and isn’t always possible to do in advance. Clicking Not Spam isn’t effective either.

    Responsible registrars would contractually prohibit spamming by their clients Or Their Agents, and upon notice Would Enforce Their Contracts meaning cancel registration of domain name.

    The problem is that they don’t. And there’s no help from IANA, ICANN or Congress.

    And registrars should keep records of who is opening these domains and prevent known, repeat-violation entities from registering new ones.

    I also don’t understand these anonymous registrations. Some anonymizing services belong to the registrars themselves. In cases where they seem not to, do the registrars know who the registrant is? If not, that’s too much. I don’t know why identity verification isn’t required, if in fact it isn’t.

    Currently, I’m receiving several unwanted, unsolicited commercial emails daily from just one sender, doing business under two names. The registrar (GoDaddy) uses an autoresponder to acknowledge spam complaints – and then does nothing.

    These two domains are listed as Client Delete Prohibited. I’d like to know what that means.

  48. I am forever getting Spam emails in my hotmail junk folder that end with ……… @allin .
    There are often about 6 in a day all with a different selection of numbers beforehand and – YES – you guessed it – they are all different –
    So even if I still had the space to block anymore ( I am on hotmail ) ….. it will do nothing because @allin just changes the numbers .
    It has become BEYOND annoying !!!!
    The Block feature will not take just the domain name section ….ie @allin

    • If they’re going in to the spam folder the system is working as it should — they are spam. Perhaps don’t spend a lot of time looking at your spam folder?

      • The best answer yet! I will try to be patient for 30 days and let that junk mail pile up until Outlook deletes it. But now I’m suddenly getting duplicates of much of this junk and it’s really piling up!

  49. This article does not explain what I have going on. Your article says “… but if the sender is determined, the block is easily bypassed. And spammers are determined … boy, are they determined! Blocking senders is useless in the war against spam.” It, also, says “Blocking email is good for anything that isn’t spam.”

    My problem is that Outlook is not blocking emails from organizations which are not spam. It isn’t blocking anything.

    I will follow your advice to place them in the spam folder but I would be interested to know why it won’t block normal emails.

  50. I have mail going to my junk mail but when i go to block it i cant now .Something has changed in Live Mail since i had an update 2 days ago. I click on the message and go to block then Ok then a message appears at bottom of screen saying add to block list , this never happened before and the junk message still stay in my junk mail, very frustrating. What happened to outlook mail

  51. Well now that I know even Blocking these Spammers doesn’t Stop them from getting through because they just keep sending from different Email Addresses each time then I’d like to know who these people are ? What is it they want to accomplish by sending all these Emails that they Must know by now nobody is reading them or taking them seriously ? All they really do is Piss Off the people who have to Delete all these Emails every day. Unless I receive an Email from somebody I know I automatically Block it and Mark as Phishing. So that being said why even bother continuing to send me Emails if I personally am Not going to read any of them ? Do they make money some how for every Email they send out ? Cause they ain’t getting any Money from me that’s for sure lol. Just don’t see the point of them wasting their time sending all those Emails. Surely nobody is dumb enough to fall for whatever it is they’re trying to sell or convince you you Won a Million Dollars.

  52. I have Outlook. Another problem no-one has mentioned. The junk file, the deleted file, and the MS cloud file that contains all these emails, but are still recoverable, remain part of your allotted GB storage limit. You have to delete the recoverables as well or you will eventually bump the limit and legitimate senders will get a Mailbox Full message and you will stop getting messages.

  53. This thread has been a revelation to me – thank you.
    Every single day I spend time assiduously unsubscribing, blocking, sweeping, marking as junk etc etc etc in the (apparently vain) hope that these 400 or so unwanted items will stop coming. Seems like my approach has been completely wrong and apparently, in the case of unsubscribing, making things worse.
    It does seem so wrong that I have so little ownership and control over my own email address.
    The trouble is, if I don’t try to deal with the mountains of spam, I lose sight of the genuine and important emails I need.

    • Thanks.

      I think I’ve certainly helped to create this monster with my unsubscribing.

      My average spam count into my Outlook email address per day is between 370 and 410.
      This has made me go back and look at my old (but still accessible) Gmail account which I hadn’t opened in 2 years – 126 spam messages in the inbox (I assume lots have been into and scrubbed from the junk folder automatically).

      Sort of underlines how much these spammers like to know they are bombarding an active email address.

      Every day a school day!

  54. Hello,

    I recently became the target of a bitcoin scam and was quite amused at the level of threats and harm promised to my family. I determined my information was obtained during the LinkedIn hack of several years ago, even though the scammers claim to have compromising video of me and will send it randomly to my FB contact list.

    As others have pointed out one of your best defenses is to not open the email.

    About 15 years ago, I simply turned off the preview pane, and I have not had a spam email on my personal email accounts in over a decade. This helps because none of the code embedded that tracks that you opened the email is executed as the email is never opened unless I specifically open it.

    Some tips to stop phone scammers. I have turned off the voicemail and the ringer on my landline. Eventually they give up because there is no verification the line is active. If you can’t do this, when you answer the phone… don’t say anything and put the phone on mute to keep the line open. And if neither of these is feasible buy an airhorn.

  55. The above article and comments have been very enlightening to me. I now understand (I think!) why some spammy scams are still getting through my AOL block. But as I live in the UK I am now also forwarding scam emails to so that the Government’s anti-fraud team can have a go at them. The only problem is that to forward an email (in AOL anyway) you first have to open it. Not ideal!

    • The best you can do is mark those emails as spam in the browser email window or email program and have AOL or your email program learn to recognize those kinds of emails as spam. Reporting them to a government agency is generally a waste of time as most scammers and spammers are from countries that don’t go after email scams.

  56. In my hotmail I create rule and still it is coming through. I type in all these keywords, terms, small/ALL CAPS and still keep coming. I ruled it to delete it so I don’t have to bee dealing with that at all but to NA. Same address, same subject and on and on…. I wonder if these providers are doing it by them self on purpose, the sky is a heaven for corruption especially these days where honesty means nothing.

    IP address issue – in “view message source” it shows IP address. Some websites claims that spammers generate each time different IP address. Well, IP address for example I have is the same all the time so I can be tracked down like a dear. My service provider gave me the IP so it is recognized by their system as legitimate. I have no way to or do not know how to generate fake/alternative IP address recognized by my service providers. Spammers on the other hand do that apparently and providers recognize it as legitimate??? Don’t they have a tool to recognize an unauthorized IP??? In the PC world today I assume for security reasons each provider should be interested not allowing/blocking unrecognized IP addresses.
    There is something I am missing in this part why they get through and why no one is able to detect it. In certain circumstances the alfabet people should be able to track any digital process because it comes always from and through certain IP address appointed by the provider. Provider which sees unauthorized IP should be able to see from what actual IP address it is coming.
    Just a bit of mindjungle for me.
    Thanks for your attention.

  57. It used to be that when you blocked a sender in outlook they were BLOCKED period. Now, it’s in no way effective and any and ALL unwanted emails go through no matter what. I thought it was outlook. However, they need to amp up their security and once again make it IMPOSSIBLE for spammers to get around the block. There HAS to be a way to permanently roadblock these predators. I terminated my Ebay account at least two months ago and unsubscribed from their mailing list AND blocked them yet I continue receiving emails from them in both my email inboxes at least three times a day. So frustrating.

  58. My block senders list has not been working for quite a while. I just put in some addresses from recent spam messages. Looking for help, I found this page, and checked to see if any domain name was being obfuscated as you mentioned. I found one and went to the block senders menu to add it, and I discovered that the addresses I had just entered a few minutes ago were not there. And yes I had pressed Save.

    Is the block senders feature no longer supported for clients ending in If so, how do I re-enable it?

    • Depends on the email program you’re using. Whether it’s supported is almost irrelevant, as it doesn’t work on spam for the reasons mentioned in the article. Spammers make one email look like it’s coming from another, so you’re not blocking what you think, and they’re constantly changing email addresses, so blocking the current one won’t prevent the next one.

  59. I suppose the real reason that Google, yahoo, and all the email companies do not effectively block spam is they have no incentive to do so.

    To me its a very simple fix
    1. No faking email addresses.
    2. No html accepted in the emails headers.
    Unfortunately, legitimate companies get marked as spam when the person signed up for the newsletters/mailings and changed their mind.
    But as long as these companies receive compensation, theres no incentive to do anything other than to pretend they are doing something.

  60. The original question was, “How can I block addresses that come repeatedly to my junk email box? It says I am blocking email but it does not work.”. I agree with Leo that SPAM would go to the Junk folder, provided the spam detection is working. It is futile to block a spammy email address because as Leo said, they’ll get around. They usually start using a different FROM address. If you blocked all of the spammy email addresses, after a year or two you could end up with several hundred addresses in your blocked list.

    BLOCKING an address might work differently with each email client (or email provider). Some clients/providers might send BLOCKED emails to spam; others usually delete the emails before they reach the recipient. The difference between a BLOCKED address and one that is not blocked, might be different by one character (like 0 for O, or I for l). At a quick glance at a long address, a user might think BLOCKING is not working.

  61. In Outlook, I have an Address Book of WHITE-LISTED email addresses. I also created a Rule in Outlook that delivers messages from ONLY those white-listed senders to my Inbox. Any message that’s NOT from one of those senders gets automatically redirected to a folder named “Unknown Senders”. Most of the messages that end up in the Unknown Senders folder are almost always spam. If I do find a non-spam message there from a new sender, I just add their email address to my White-Listed Address Book. Then any future messages from them will go directly to my Inbox. Everything else in the Unknown Senders folder can just be selected with Ctrl-A and deleted. With this method of screening for and accepting only white-listed senders, I get NO spam in my Inbox.

  62. This was written a long time ago, but in my search for answers I came across it and I’m always interested in others thoughts.

    Blocking senders isn’t always futile, it can work, at least temporarily, and often that’s all that’s needed to improve quality of life.

    Many spam emails are random, but in my experience the worst offenders use the same domains. There was one a while back called mailcurry, I filtered anything from them to go to the bin. There’s another currently bulk spamming and I’ve filtered them too. As many spammers target the US market it’s easier for me to filter anything related to ‘auto warranties’, Walmart, target, Home Depot etc. I despise spam. I don’t mind scammers so much, their emails are often unintentionally funny and I love how the head of the FBI and American diplomats in Benin take the time to email me personally. Saudi Princes are so early 2000s.

  63. My junk mail filter is working pretty well at sending spam to junk. However, now I get mostly “blocked” email, from new addresses, as you’ve explained. Should I unblock these senders so my filter will get better at redirecting them? Another thought – should I uncheck “enable blocked mail filters? Using yahoo and Mac.

  64. As a follow up: I “unblocked” a couple of spams and sent to junk. All of a sudden there are no more blocked emails at all. Hallelujah!! They must have all come from the same spammer. Now yahoo’s recognition is almost flawless.

  65. I have found blocking to be somewhat effective when dealing with marketers that are adept at changing their email formats around enough to get around spam filters even after I have marked previous messages from that sender as spam. One domain that seems to have a blanket back door to the inbox no matter what I do is AKA Constant Contact. AKA spam service for people who don’t think they are spammers. Mail from people using these guys will always get through even after adding (and org, net, co, etc.) to the blocked list in the email client, the user’s profile in the spam firewall (currently Spam Titan after moving away from Barracuda), and the global block list in the firewall. At this point I can only assume they have paid to get a blanket whitelist status.

  66. Blocking an email sender accomplishes nothing in Mac Mail. It’s not a matter of ever changing addresses or other spoofs, Mac Mail just puts a little block icon next to the sender’s name and sends it to spam. I still have to delete EVERY BLOCKED EMAIL. The “move it to the trash” setting doesn’t do anything. Very frustrating. Do spammers pay Apple a fee to avoid blocking filters?

  67. This is by far the best site and discussion I’ve seen on unwanted Spam. Thank you.
    I must confess that I am a bit of a SPAM vigilante. It’s not enough for me to block, mute, mark as spam and delete, though I do understand the practicality of that, and the time I would get back if I handle it that way. I use Apple mail which is touted to be one of the “good” ones at recognizing and blocking SPAM, yet I get about 75 a day to an email address I never use (it was my apple id for years, I’ve since changed it but continue to get only spam to that email). I do send spam (forward as attachment) to:,,, I doubt it’s doing anything, but I wish it would. I don’t want to change my email address that I’ve used for years and have established for my friends, family, businesses, etc. It doesn’t seem like a great solution for me who isn’t doing anything illegal to evade scammers who are doing something illegal.

  68. Byron Sevario
    February 18, 2011 at 4:04 pm
    I wish there was a way to destroy the computer that the email was sent from. I hate those Sex spams.
    But knowing that you can’t do that just keep deleting them. That works every time.

    I just came across this blog and above note from Byron Sevario.
    Actually it seems there is some way to destroy a computer, which I learned when complaining to my ISP’s Customer Service some years ago. The person answering my call gave me his private email address and asked me to contact him after work, which I did. He said to consider it a war and to imagine two tanks roaring down the road, promising that his tank (computer) would destroy the other, after which I’d never get emails from that guy again. True enough, after weeks of increasingly annoying and offensively personal missives I finally had peace. No idea how it was done and so sad I didn’t keep the guy’s name or email to even confirm his ‘win’ and thank him.


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