I guess this is more of a best practice/policy question. I'm the postmaster for example.net. Another company has example.com. I get the catch-all emails, any email that doesn't have a user account on my server.

What should I do, if anything, if emails keep coming to [email protected] when it should be going to [email protected]? Should I just setup a forward, alert the user or ignore it?

3 Answers 3


Ignore them. It's not your job to manage mail on behalf of other companies. If the mail was sent to your system, whether by mistake or not, the mail is yours, not theirs. Sooner or later someone might notice that they're not receiving their messages and then they might look into it, hopefully ending with them telling the sender to use the correct address. In the meantime that's not your problem, so don't make it yours.

  • 3
    Also, speaking from experience: If you do email the sender and inform them of their mistake, expect to get on average about twice as much abuse as thanks.
    – Jenny D
    Jan 10, 2013 at 11:10
  • I regularly get email for people with the same initial and last name as me who use the same popular email provider. I can't believe the idiots out there who give my address instead of their own when applying for jobs. Mailing lists I can understand people not being careful about, but job applications? Anyway, I once tracked down one of these people, as they actually got invited to interview. It was worth a transatlantic phone call - she was very very grateful.
    – dunxd
    Jan 10, 2013 at 16:20
  • 1
    @dunxd That was certainly going above and beyond the call of duty. Did you find out how the error happened? Fat fingers? Jan 10, 2013 at 19:19
  • A common bug in the users operating system combined with a namespace problem. They sign up for [email protected], then tell people that their email address is [email protected], or people forget the suffix. No - that's my email address because I got there first! It happens all the time with different people. Maybe there is a genetic fault amongst those who share my surname. Or maybe it's all in the memes.
    – dunxd
    Jan 11, 2013 at 12:21
  • simplest solution usually the best! Lord knows I don't need any more problems. Jan 11, 2013 at 15:10

You could also consider disabling the catch-all address and simply reject mail to unknown users, so the sender gets immediately notified via NDR that he mistyped something.

As a side effect this can reduce the load on the mailserver massively since you don't have to process spams to randomly generated adresses in your domain.

  • I would except that it helps to catch misspelled address, some by people in the office, and lost emails. Jan 11, 2013 at 15:05
  • rejected mail is not lost, the sender gets an error message. I personally think it's better if sender fixes the error instead accepting misspelled adresses forever. but it's probably a matter of taste. you could get a bit of both worlds by creating aliases for the most common typos.
    – Gryphius
    Jan 11, 2013 at 15:11

Chances are that the other company gets as much of your email as you get of theirs (or more, since they have the .com which people are more likely to use in error), so you should probably get in touch with their postmaster, as you may be able to come up with a solution between you - e.g. an autoresponder that notifies senders of the distinction.

Longer term though, you probably want a more distinct domain name, especially if the other company does something similar to you. That is more of a branding/management decision. At least if you talk to the other people you may be able to inform those responsible for branding how much potential business you might be using.

  • +1 for "the other company gets as much of your email as you get of theirs".
    – gerrit
    Jan 10, 2013 at 16:06
  • Actually made a mistake in the example I provided. We own the .com, the other company own .org so we probably get more email. Jan 11, 2013 at 15:07
  • In that case, since people probably put your domain correctly, it is the other guy's problem. In which case I'd leave it, especially if they are a competitor :-)
    – dunxd
    Jan 11, 2013 at 15:18

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