Pay close attention to your e-mail inbox. If you get a message saying that an e-mail you sent to a legitimate friend or business colleague is undeliverable, it may mean that YOUR e-mail server has been identified by a third party as unsecure, and is being blocked by the recipient because of anti-spamming filters they have in place.
Anti-spam efforts have sprung up a cottage industry of experts trying to find ways to get ahead of the spammers to protect you from "junk mail." However, in their zeal to set up spam filters, these solutions have also led some legitimate users - accounting firms included - to be identified as potential spammers and have blocked the ability to receive even these legitimate e-mails.
One such effort is ORDB.org, the "Open Relay Database." ORDB.org is a non-profit organization which stores a list of machines which are identified as "open SMTP relays" which means that sophisticated spammers could "hijack" your e-mail server to send unsolicited e-mails through.
This may all sound very technical, but the bottom line is that if your organization's e-mail server is configured in a way that has identified it as "open," then your e-mails may be blocked on the receiving end.
What should you do if your e-mails are being returned?
- Check your e-mail inbox. Pay attention to your inbox and watch out for any messages that say "Service Unavailable" or other subject lines that would indicate that your mail did not get through. You are the front line in solving this problem for your organization.
- Deal with the business at hand. Recognize that the intended recipient did NOT receive your e-mail. If it is a critical business function, call the recipient to complete your business.
- Look at the error message. If you receive a message that "service is unavailable" for a recipient of your e-mail, open that message to verify that you have the correct e-mail address. If the address is right, look for other text that may refer to "ORDB," "open relay," "blackholed" or "blocked."
- Report it to your IT department. If any of the words in #3 above are included in the body of the message, then action needs to be taken. Getting your company de-listed from the ORDB.org database is a fairly simple process, but your company must be the one to initiate it. Contact your network administrator and report the problem, and refer them to www.ordb.org for further instructions.