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Virgin email blacklist - spam content found

Emails are bouncing with "spam content found". How do I go about removing the domain / IP from your blacklist?

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Re: Virgin email blacklist - spam content found

By following this advice. 

Advice for senders and Virgin Media customers

554 – 554 5.2.0 – “Spam content found” error message.

Action to take is in in italic face type. This advice applies to all Virgin Media domains –;,;

This error message from the Virgin Media incoming or outgoing mail servers shows , in my view, a systemic and  persistent problem with the spam filters. Virgin Media have been aware of it for many months after the 2015 migration to their current e-mail platform. Only Virgin Media can provide a permanent solution. Some alleviation is also possible.

The spam filters are too sensitive and inconsistent in operation. They do not properly discriminate between legitimate e-mail from reputable senders which gets rejected, and spam which gets through.

All kinds of mail senders are affected. This includes bulk mailers,  businesses sending out order confirmations, schools, voluntary societies, the NHS  and individual Virgin Media customers.

The company mostly attributes this error to badly configured mail servers or which do not meet Virgin Media’s exacting requirements for server set up.  We have seen a recent example of a properly set up server, signing e-mail correctly which has experienced this issue. So this cannot be a satisfactory explanation of the problem. Other e-mail providers have systems which do not behave this way. They successfully balance the expectation that legitimate e-mail will be delivered while minimising spam or ensuring that it is consistently delivered to a spam/junk folder. The Virgin Media system should but does not achieve any of this.

Virgin Media customers who experience this error when they send run-of-the mill  mail clearly cannot be at fault. They have no control over how Virgin Media’s mail servers are configured.

This advice is designed to help senders and Virgin Media customers to manage the issue.  Not all of it will apply in your case so you need to read it carefully and take what you need.

If you are responsible for sending out regular e-mails for a club or society using a straightforward mailing list do not be concerned by the technical nature of some of this advice, about e-mail server set-up. Just act in accordance with the practical advice given. That will be fine.

Advice for external senders

Reputable senders of e-mail to Virgin Media domains cannot be confident that their mail will be delivered.  It may be marked as spam and delivery refused. Much depends on how recipients have set their spam settings in web mail.

Virgin Media wish to handle such instances on a case-by-case basis. You should therefore be ready to provide the Forum Team with a full copy of the 550 error message and full unedited copy of one of the bounced e-mail headers. Keep watching your thread for the request.

Virgin Media Forum team staff will then advise, after consulting with the company’s postmaster, what configuration changes , if any, you should consider making  to your e-mail sending system.  

Both parts of this process may take some time, given the number of posts and the load on the postmaster’s team.

These changes may include making sure your SPF, rDNS and mail signing protocols (DMARC and DKIM) are set up correctly. It may also involve  removing from or converting to plain text mail signatures with URLs that do not point back to the originating domain or ensuring that any URLs in the title or the body of the text do not refer to sites that are associated with sending spam (blacklists may need to be checked – MX toolbox is a useful tool here).  Blacklists should also be checked to ensure that the sending server’s IP is not included on them.

VM seem to be aiming for definitive remedy for individual senders, rather than so-called “whitelisting”.

Senders might feel that they should inform their customers of the risk that their mail will not be delivered to Virgin Media e-mail addresses. Customers could be advised to follow the guidance below; particularly the guidance on spam settings. You can base your advice on what I have written here, as long as you do not further embellish it.

Advice for customers

Individual customers who get the 550 error on their outgoing mail should follow the advice above. Virgin Media will want to see what is happening when their servers reject run-of-the-mill e-mail.

Virgin Media customers who want to stop the majority of erroneous rejections of incoming e-mail by the spam filters must follow the proven advice here (copy link into your browser please):

The mail will end up in the web mail spam folder.  This is not ideal but at least the mail gets through. I made this change immediately at migration to the present system because I was not happy with the Virgin Media default settings which were to reject all spam. It has proved to be the right decision. I have pushed for Virgin Media to adopt the advice as the default spam setting. They have indicated this is under consideration. How long this simple measure will take them is anybody’s guess.

Customers using POP to collect their mail through an e-mail client will need to visit their web mail regularly to check their spam folder and move mail erroneously marked as spam (click the e-mail to select it and click on the “not spam icon”) to their  web mail inbox folder so that their client can download it.  This is what I do.

Customers using IMAP will be able to see their web mail spam folder in their mail client. They will be able to sort their mail without visiting their web mail account. The act of moving mail from the main from the spam folder to the inbox will automatically mark it as “not spam”. It will also help to train the infant spam filters and help them to be more discriminating – according to Virgin Media.

If you know the e-mail address of a particular sender then add that address to your web mail contacts. This will mark the sender as a safe sender. Their mail will end up in your web mail inbox and then in your e-mail client  where it belongs.

Virgin Media e-mail users may feel that they should move all or part of their e-mail to a third party non-ISP linked mail provider to avoid this and other issues. That is a decision only they can make, but it is widely accepted as the right thing to do, not just because of this issue. I increasingly use my third party web mail provider as my main e-mail address to ensure resilience of my e-mail transactions.


Superusers are generally not Virgin Media staff. Virgin Media do not approve or endorse my advice. This advice is given on the basis that I accept no personal liability (explicit or implied) as to its accuracy or safety.


Superuser 2017/18
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I do not work for VM. The advice I give is based on my best understanding of VM policy and practice. You rely on it at your own risk.
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Message 3 of 3
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Re: Virgin email blacklist - spam content found

Hi dwiscombe,


Welcome to the forums, I'm sorry to see you have been having trouble with emails being bounced. 


Please pop me the header information from the bounce message across to me via PM (Purple Envelope, top right of the screen) and we'll be able to investigate further from there. 


Speak to you soon. 



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