Steps to Correct Email Bounce Backs / Suspicious Flag (SPF Entry)

Microsoft recently made some changes to how they handle email security which has affected communications sent through the Atlas Communicator. Areas affected include the mass communicator and emails sent from forms on the site. There are several steps that need to be taken to correct this issue including:

1. Update the SPF record on your DNS

An SPF record is used to tell a receiving mail server that the email being sent out by the Atlas relay server isn’t spam. If you add the following records to your DNS it should eliminate most of the bounce backs, particularly in the mass communicator.

If you use Microsoft Outlook Online* as your email provider add the following as a TXT record, using "@" as your hostname:

v=spf1 -all

*How do I tell if I use Microsoft Outlook Online? The easiest answer is to ask your IT person. If that isn’t possible then you can go to and type your domain into the Domain Name: search field and hit MX Lookup. This will bring up information about your domain including the Hostname. If the Hostname includes at any point then you need to use the above record.

Everyone else who doesn’t use Microsoft Outlook Online needs to add the following as a TXT record, using "@" as your hostname:

v=spf1 -all

2. DNS failure notifications after you’ve put your SPF entry in place

Your first check should be to see if your SPF record entry is valid, you can test your domain at the following location: 

Some clients are still getting a small number of bounce notifications after they’ve put their SPF record in place. These emails typically include notification that the email bounced because of some failure on the receiving DNS. These are the result of an issue on the receiving end and there isn’t anything that we can do about a receiving server bouncing email back.

We encourage you to contact clients whose domains are bouncing those emails back and see if they can safelist communications both from your domain and from the Atlas relay server. It’s possible that the security change is affecting them as well and they don’t realize it.

To reiterate: If you are getting email bounce backs after adding the SPF record then it is likely an issue with the receiving domain and that member should be contacted so that their IT can double check their settings and safelist your organization.

3. Microsoft Outlook Online users

Microsoft Outlook Online users are experiencing an additional issue where if you try to email yourself a copy of an email being sent in the Mass Communicator the delivery fails. Microsoft is not allowing that email to be sent back for some reason, and the bounce back notification you receive is our email server letting you know Microsoft Outlook has rejected the email.

We are unable to control Microsoft rejecting client emails and are encouraging clients experiencing this issue to contact Microsoft directly about your account to work out a solution to this problem. They should have a recommendation for a best practice and how to proceed.

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