What strategies do you use to combat spam coming into a catch-all address?

I've noticed that some non-existent addresses seem to get picked up and hit hard by spammers. These, I redirect to an old, unused webmail account (last time I logged in: 86,583 unread emails).

I also use spam assassin to reject obvious spam, but I still get a few a day that make it through.

I've tried moving a domain to google apps, and that seems to work pretty well.

Any other strategies I'm missing?

6 Answers 6


The whole point with catch-all addresses is that you get everything, but you only need to attend to addresses you are interested in. I do a few things:

  1. if I give out an email to anyone, it's site-specific. For instance, superuser would know me as superuser.com@mydomaincom. That way I can figure out who's selling what.
  2. All mail that is sent to a known, good address is considered good.
  3. All mail that is sent to an unknown, suspicious address (so it's NOT one of twenty addresses I actually get mail from) gets filtered (using Gmail) to a "probably-spam" bin. I check that when I can, and rescue good mail from there.
  4. Addresses that are good get added to the no-filter list.

It definitely takes me longer to answer if a new friend writes me at "thatCrazyDudeFromTaiwan@mydomain.com" because it gets marked as suspicious. But that's fine...


I gave up on using a catch-all address. I never actually got anything important in it and it was just a waste of time trying to maintain it.

  • 1
    True, but it's the principle of the thing... :P
    – zildjohn01
    Aug 11, 2009 at 21:53
  • 1
    I use a catch all address as a disposable address system. For example, when I need to provide an address to sign up for a service I use {service}@mydomain.com which by default is caught and ends up in my catch all box. I can then receive the verification email (and some small number of notifications that I deem acceptable.) I can later disable that one address manually if it becomes a spam bucket.
    – Chris Nava
    Aug 11, 2009 at 22:10
  • 1
    I use a third party site for managing my disposable addresses. Specifically, sneakemail.com. Aug 11, 2009 at 22:40

These user names seem to attract spam and have been banned from my catch all address:

  • root
  • info
  • sales
  • admin
  • microcenter (They apparently sold my rebate address to spammers!)

The first 4 tend to get the same spam within minutes of each other (@^%$ BOTS!). The last is a disposable that has been disposed of due to abuse.



Use the standard DNS, SURBL and Greylisting techniques that you would use on normal email addresses.

I use a catch all on a few domains and I do not get any more spam that I do on a standard single address.


There are two reasons for using Catchall accounts. One is to simply get all your domain's email's in a single box and manage them.

The second is to receive emails for any ID of the form @domain.com.

Typically, normal usage is the former (to simplify email management).

If that is the case, you can consider a catchall-box, but with an Email filtering service (like Postini, SAFENTRIX or MXLogic). You can specify the aliases in the filtering service and only emails for those addresses will come to your mail box.

If, however, it is the second case, you want to receive Email addressed to any ID, Email filtering services may not be very effective and standard Email SPAM filtering techniques can be tried out.


Use Google Apps for your domain. I hardly ever have spam and I use a catch-all address.

  • Ow, I just see that you already use Google Apps (shame on me for not reading the whole question before answering). Well, then I think your problem is already fixed ;-)
    – fretje
    Aug 11, 2009 at 23:47
  • I've moved one domain over to google apps, but it looks like I'll be moving the rest over soon.
    – chris
    Aug 12, 2009 at 1:13

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.