Understanding and Removing Yourself from the RATS Spam Blacklist

Uh oh, you just got added to the notorious RATS Spam blacklist!

Before you panic, take a deep breath – this guide will walk you through everything you need to know to rectify the situation.

We’ll cover what got you listed, how to request removal, tips to prevent future issues, and top tools to improve your sender reputation. By the end, you’ll have all the knowledge needed to clear up this roadblock and get back to inboxing.

Let’s get you out of RATS spam blacklist once and for all!

Page Contents

What is RATS Spam and How Does it Work?

RATS-Spam is a collection of IP Addresses that have been repeatedly observed or reported as sending spam emails in large volumes.

Definition of RATS Spam Blacklist

RATS stands for Real-time Automated Trend Scanning and is one of the oldest and most well-known email blacklists for blocking spam. The RATS Spam blacklist specifically focuses on identifying and blocking IP addresses associated with sending large volumes of unsolicited commercial email or spam.

Getting added to the RATS Spam blacklist means your IP address will be blocked from sending emails to any recipient domains or email servers that utilize the RATS blacklist in their spam filtering. This can hamper your ability to reach inboxes.

So how do you end up on the RATS Spam blacklist? Basically, if RATS detects high volumes of questionable bulk emails coming from your IP address, you’ll get flagged as a source of spam or abuse.

Some common red flags include:

  • Sending large volumes of similar emails in a short period of time
  • Using purchased or scraped email lists instead of verified opt-in lists
  • Having extremely high blocked or spam complaint rates
  • Engaging in other shady email activities like operating an open relay

The RATS blacklist operators use spam traps and manual spam reports to identify sources of unwanted email. If you trigger their detection thresholds, you’ll get added to the RATS Spam list.

How the RATS Spam Blacklist Functions

The RATS Spam blacklist is maintained by a company called SpamRat. Here’s an overview of how it works:

  • SpamRat has an array of spam traps and honeypots designed to attract and identify spam campaigns. These fake email addresses will collect unsolicited emails.
  • In addition, SpamRat relies on manual spam reports sent by regular email users, administrators, and other anti-spam groups.
  • The incoming spam data is analyzed to detect patterns indicating an IP address is a source of spam. This includes things like volume, similarity, lack of subscription confirmation, etc.
  • Once an IP address crosses a threshold of spamminess, it gets added to the RATS Spam blacklist. This usually happens quickly within hours or days of spam being detected.
  • Email servers can then query the RATS blacklist in real-time to block incoming mail from listed IPs before it reaches users’ inboxes.
  • IPs stay on the blacklist for an indefinite period until the offender requests removal by delisting and fixing the spam issue.

So in summary, RATS Spam uses both automated spam traps and human reports to identify high-risk email IPs, adds them to a blacklist, and enables recipients to block them as spam sources.

Reasons Your IP May Get Flagged as RATS Spam

There are a few common reasons your outbound IP address may end up on the RATS Spam blacklist:

Purchasing Bad Email Lists

If you buy email lists that contain invalid, old, or spam-trap addresses, sending mail to these contacts can cause blacklist issues. Always verify and clean lists before uploading and sending.

Scraping Email Addresses Without Permission

Web scraping tools can compile emails for outreach. But scraping and sending without consent is considered spamming.

Sending Large Bulk Emails Too Quickly

It’s smart to gradually ramp up sending volume to monitor deliverability. But rapidly blasting huge volumes can look like a spam blast.

Having Your Server Compromised

Hackers can use compromised servers to send spam through your IPs. Keep your email infrastructure secure.

Making Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) Misconfigurations

Improper SMTP and open relay settings can allow spammers to funnel mail through your servers.

Trying to Hide Your Identity

Using tactics like invalid HELO/SMTP banners or fraudulent sending domains may cause RATS to flag your IP.

Getting Caught in Spam Traps

Spam traps trick spammers into revealing themselves. But even normal senders can accidentally trigger traps.

Having Users Report Your Mail as Spam or Abuse

Enough spam or Abuse complaints against your sending IPs can contribute to blacklisting.

So in essence, anything that makes your outbound email look risky like typical spam can potentially lead to a RATS Spam listing. The best approach is being a good email citizen by only sending wanted mail to engaged recipients.

Checking if You’re on the RATS Spam Blacklist

Before trying to get removed from the RATS Spam blacklist, you first need to confirm whether you’ve actually been listed or not. There are a couple ways to check.

Looking Up Your IP Address on the RATS Website

The RATS Spam blacklist operators provide a free lookup tool right on their website. Here’s how to use it:

  1. Go to www.spamrats.com
  2. Find the “Text box” at top of their page.
  3. Enter your full IP address (e.g. in the input field.
  4. Click “Check IP” or hit Enter.

This will display a message indicating whether your IP is currently listed on the RATS Spam blacklist or not.

  • If it says your IP is listed, it should provide a details link to request removal.
  • If your IP is not listed, you’ll get a message saying so.

This is the simplest way to verify a RATS Spam listing, and you can check as often as you need. Just keep in mind the blacklist status may not update immediately.

Using Blacklist Checking Tools to Check Multiple Lists

While the RATS website lets you check their blacklist specifically, there are some handy online tools that let you check your IP against multiple blacklists at once.

This can help reveal if you’ve been flagged in other lists beyond just RATS. Some recommended blacklist checkers include:

  • MXToolbox – Free blacklist checking for 100+ lists including RATS
  • DNSBL Check– Checks 250+ blacklists and analyzes inbox placement

To use these, simply enter your IP address and it will scan the various blacklists in real time and report any listings found.

Checking on Mystrika’s blacklist tool

Mystrika by Fresent offers a free blacklist checking tool that enables users to check their sending IP address against 250+ major email blacklists, including RATS Spam.

To use it:

  1. Go to Mystrika’s Blacklist Check tool
  2. Enter your IP address in the search bar
  3. Click “Check IP”

Within seconds, you will see a list of blacklist statuses, indicating any listings found for your IP. Mystrika’s tool provides an easy way to check RATS and other lists quickly for free.

Checking your blacklist status regularly is a good practice, especially if you are ramping up email sending. It helps catch any potential issues early before they hamper your sender reputation and inbox placement.

Getting Removed from the RATS Spam Blacklist

If you find your IP address has ended up on the RATS Spam blacklist, you’ll want to get it delisted as soon as possible. Here is a step-by-step guide to submitting a removal request and getting back in good standing.

Submitting a Delisting Request on the RATS Website

If you’ve verified your IP is listed on the RATS blacklist, the first step is submitting a formal removal request.

Here is the process to request delisting:

  1. Go to the RATS Spam Removal page: www.spamrats.com/removal.php
  2. Enter your full IP address in the input field.
  3. Click the “Remove IP from List” button.
  4. Check your email inbox. RATS will send an automated response to the registrant email address associated with your IP.
  5. The email will confirm if your removal request was approved or denied.
  • If approved, your IP will be removed from the RATS blacklist within 24-48 hours.
  • If denied, you’ll need to take further steps to fix the spammy behavior and appeal the decision.

Note that RATS does not allow removal requests through other means like live chat or phone calls. You must submit the request directly from the IP owner through their automated system.

Exercise patience as processing can take up to two days. Avoid submitting multiple requests as that may prolong the process. You can use blacklist checkers to monitor when your IP is cleared.

Tips for Preventing Repeat Listings After Delisting

Getting removed from RATS spam is only half the battle. You also need to take steps to prevent repeat listings after being delisted:

  • Fix any system vulnerabilities or misconfigurations that enabled the spam behavior like open relays. Harden your email infrastructure security.
  • Warm up your IP reputation with services like Mystrika before sending large email batches again. Take it slow.
  • Clean your email lists and remove any risky purchased or scraped addresses. Only mail to engaged subscribers.
  • Use suppression lists to automatically drop any previously complained addresses.
  • Monitor feedback and complaints so you can identify issues early before major blacklisting happens.
  • Use dedicated IPs for bulk sending to isolate problems instead of getting entire ranges blocked.

Repeat offenders will likely find it harder and harder to get removed from RATS and other blacklists. So play by the rules and send wanted mail only.

What to Do if Your Delisting Request is Denied

If RATS denies your removal request, don’t panic. Here are some next steps to take:

  • Review why you were rejected. Read RATS’ reason for denial so you understand what caused the listing.
  • Fix the root problem. Whether an open relay, botnet infection, compromised account, etc. Resolve the technical issue that facilitated spamming.
  • Appeal again after addressing the concern. Wait a few days and re-submit your removal request, emphasizing the fixes made.
  • Try requesting removal again from a different IP. If the listed IP cannot be salvaged, use a new clean IP to request delisting.
  • Consult with your host. Your email provider may be able to intervene and vouch on your behalf if the listing seems incorrect.
  • Build sender reputation on new IPs first. Don’t immediately blast out mail from fresh IPs or risk quick re-blacklisting. Warm up prudently.
  • Submit a false-positive report. As a last resort, report inaccurate blacklisting via RATS’ dispute process if you are sure it is incorrect.

With persistence and care to send mail properly going forward, you should be able to clear up any invalid RATS listings even if rejection occurs initially.

Understanding Why RATS Spam Exists and How it Helps

While getting put on blacklists like RATS Spam is inconvenient, they do serve an important purpose in the fight against spam. Understanding why RATS exists can help you avoid it in the future.

The Purpose of Email Blacklists in Reducing Spam

The RATS Spam blacklist was created in the early 2000s as spamming exploded with the growth of the web. Its goal is to identify and block IP addresses sending unsolicited bulk email or operating insecure relays.

By compiling spam reports and utilizing spam traps, RATS developed a list of known spam sources that receiving mail servers could reference to block unwanted messages preemptively. This provided an efficient mechanism to filter spam at scale.

Some key benefits RATS and other blacklists provide:

  • Saves recipients the annoyance of excessive spam reaching the inbox
  • Lightens the load on mail servers by blocking bad traffic early
  • Incentivizes senders to improve email practices and avoid blacklists
  • Enables administrators to protect their domains with minimal effort by using published lists
  • Leverages shared community knowledge of spam sources rather than relying solely on individual filtering

So in essence, RATS emerged as an automated collaborative system to identify and impede spam based on real-world spam patterns. Its effectiveness comes from the collective observations contributed by many email users.

Potential Drawbacks of Blacklists and False Positives

Of course, no spam filtering system is perfect, so blacklists like RATS Spam can occasionally suffer false positives. Legitimate bulk senders may get caught in spam traps or labeled as spammers incorrectly.

Some potential drawbacks include:

  • Blocking regular marketing or transactional mails users want to receive
  • Penalizing new IP addresses before they establish good sender reputation
  • Putting hurdles on legitimate senders that harm their email deliverability
  • Failing to adapt quickly enough when senders improve their practices
  • Opaque criteria and inability to appeal incorrect listings

Fortunately, the likelihood of false positives is relatively low for established senders. But it underscores the need for senders to verify listings and for recipients to use multiple layers of spam filtering.

The Importance of Additional Spam Filters Beyond RATS

Given the risks of inaccurate blacklisting, it’s crucial to use RATS as just one component of a robust spam filtering strategy rather than the sole defense.

Additional layers like spam filters, anomaly detection, content analysis, greylisting, sender authentication, and more should be employed to catch unwanted mail beyond what blacklist checks provide.

For recipients, a defense-in-depth approach prevents mishaps with any single filtering method. For senders, this means optimizing your mail practices to get delivering reliably even if a blacklist glitch occurs.

Monitoring your sender reputation and maintaining feedback loops with ISPs is also important to get blacklists reversed if incorrect listings arise. Deliverability services like Mystrika can aid this process as well.

So while RATS Spam provides helpful intelligence to block clear spam, prudent mailers and receivers will use it as one of many parts of an anti-spam toolkit, not the only tool.

Proactively Avoiding Being Flagged as RATS Spam

The most effective way to deal with blacklists like RATS is avoiding them entirely in the first place. Here are some best practices to proactively keep your IP addresses off spam lists.

Securing Your Email Server and Infrastructure

Since compromised infrastructure is a common source of blacklisting, hardening your servers and network is key:

  • Use strong unique passwords for all accounts and logins. Enable 2FA where possible.
  • Install and regularly update antivirus software and malware scanners to catch infections early.
  • Enable firewalls and monitor traffic patterns to detect anomalies indicative of hijacking.
  • Patch and upgrade software routinely to ensure any known vulnerabilities are addressed.
  • Monitor server access logs closely for unauthorized access attempts.
  • Shut down unnecessary ports and services that could provide entry points.
  • Isolate email sending infrastructure in a private subnet or DMZ to limit exposure.

Take action at the first sign of any potential security breaches to contain the threat quickly and protect your IP reputation. Consider bringing in security consultants to audit your environment as well.

Avoiding Typical Behaviors that Trigger RATS Listings

Beyond securing infrastructure, you should also avoid common practices that may be perceived as spammy:

  • Never purchase or scrape questionable email lists. Always get explicit opt-in consent.
  • Take care not to mail spam traps. Avoid obviously fake email addresses.
  • Don’t send large volumes from new IPs without warming up first. Scale gradually.
  • Don’t hide your metadata. Use valid identifiers and sender info.
  • Avoid excessive keywords, all-caps text, and other spammy content.
  • Provide and honor unsubscribe options to remove disinterested subscribers.
  • Monitor inbox placement and abuse reports. Adjust practices if deliverability suffers.

Segment your list carefully and only send relevant content subscribers want. Follow best practices for reputation-friendly sending.

Warming Up New IP Addresses Before Sending Bulk Email

One of the biggest triggers for blacklists is sending large volumes suddenly from a fresh IP before establishing sender reputation.

The safest approach is to warm up any new IPs first with legitimate mail volume before relying on them for important campaigns. Services like Mystrika can facilitate the warmup process.

Try Mystrika for Warm up

Key advantages of Mystrika for warming up IPs:

  • Large proprietary pool of 50,000+ real, active email addresses to ensure deliverability into inboxes.
  • Free email warmup provided for your first email address to get started.
  • Automatic link click and open tracking to confirm engaged recipients.
  • Provides all necessary analytics and insights to optimize the warmup process.
  • Enables you to safely build sender reputation before migrating bulk mail volume.

Taking two to four weeks to ramp up IP volume with Mystrika lays the groundwork for deliverability once you switch to sending campaigns yourself. Their unprecedented warmup pool and experts make it the top choice for priming new IPs and avoiding blacklists.

FAQs About RATS Spam

Let’s review answers to some frequently asked questions about the RATS Spam blacklist.

What is an open relay and how does it relate to RATS?

An open relay is an improperly configured mail server that allows anyone to route emails through it, even if the sender is forged or spammy.

Open relays gained infamy in the 1990s and early 2000s as spammers exploited them to mask the source of unwanted emails. They have become less common over time.

However, if RATS detects spam being relayed from your open mail server, it will blacklist your IP address even if you weren’t the direct spammer. That’s because your insecure configuration enabled the abusive traffic.

Closing any mistaken open relays and locking down servers is key to avoiding RATS listings. Never leave mail servers open for unauthorized use.

How quickly does RATS remove listings after a request?

After submitting a delisting request on the RATS site, removal typically occurs within 24-48 hours if approved.

However, it can occasionally take longer, up to a week in some cases. RATS handles removal requests in the order received, so temporary delays aren’t uncommon.

Checking blacklist sites frequently lets you confirm when the removal takes effect so you know your IP is cleared.

Can I get listed on RATS without sending any spam?

It’s improbable but possible in a few circumstances:

  • If your server is hijacked to relay spam without your knowledge
  • Getting caught accidentally in aggressive spam traps
  • Enough recipients wrongfully reporting legitimate mail as spam
  • Significant delivery failures that look like botnet patterns

These false positive scenarios are relatively rare, especially if you send quality mail and secure infrastructure. But it underscores the value of warming up IPs properly before bulk sending.

Does delisting from RATS guarantee future email delivery?

While RATS removal reopens doors, it doesn’t guarantee perfect future delivery. You’ll still need to maintain strict list hygiene, security, engagement tracking, and warmup procedures.

Delisting may not even solve delivery issues if you remain listed on other blacklists. It’s one piece of reputation management, not a total solution. Monitoring your sender score and reputation dashboard should accompany any delisting efforts.

Think of RATS removal as eliminating a major obstacle, but not the only factor influencing your inbox placement. Ongoing sender reputation care is essential.

How can I reduce the risk of being blacklisted unfairly?

Some tips to minimize unfair blacklisting risks include:

  • Warm up every new IP gradually before relying on it for bulk sends
  • Split campaigns across multiple warmed up IPs to isolate issues
  • Verify the opt-in status of all your subscriber lists
  • Honor unsubscribe requests immediately
  • Monitor traffic quality via engagement metrics and abuse desk feedback
  • Use authentication protocols like SPF, DKIM, and DMARC
  • Update any old domain infrastructure causing failures
  • Report any suspected false listings quickly

Staying engaged with blacklist operators and being transparent goes a long way if unfair additions ever occur. But taking proper precautions upfront is best to avoid any problems.

Tools and Resources to Improve Email Deliverability

Here are some helpful tools and guides to improve deliverability and avoid issues like RATS blacklisting when sending bulk email.

Email Warmup Services to Improve Sender Reputation

Dedicated email warmup services provide a safe way to build your sender reputation before relying on new IPs for campaigns:

  • Mystrika – Features the largest proprietary warmup IP pool and provides free warmup for your first email address. Unique pre-sending deliverability insights also provided.
  • List of over 12 other email warmup tools.

When selecting a warmup provider, look for sufficient email diversity, transparent engagement tracking, reputation enrichment, and expert guidance.

Additional Blacklist Checking Tools

Beyond the RATS website, several online tools allow checking against multiple blacklists:

Recurring checks on your IP addresses, domains, and sender reputation provide visibility into any listing issues as they emerge. Proactive monitoring enables quicker remediation.

Key focus areas include list quality, sender reputation, authentication protocols, engagement tracking, complaint handling, and infrastructure security.

Following established delivery guidelines will help ensure you align with major ISP expectations and avoid issues.