What Is AOL Certified Mail?

It's the latest technology in AOL's ongoing efforts to combat spam and online 'phishing' scams

AOL Certified Mail is an industry-standard class of trusted email, designed to provide a safe and reliable way for consumers to easily identify authentic messages from legitimate commercial, nonprofit and government email senders. This additional choice in mail authentication offers much-needed uniformity, consistency and security for both AOL users and commercial emailers.

How AOL Certified Mail Works

AOL Certified Mail is administered by AOL in partnership with Goodmail Systems. It is only available to legitimate commercial, non-profit and government email senders that meet strict standards for email best practices and low spam complaint rates. Each AOL Certified Mail is marked in the inbox with a unique, tamper-proof, blue-ribbon envelope icon, enabling you to visually distinguish legitimate messages as authentic and trustworthy.

An email has been certified if you see the following:

AOL Certified Mail is available on AOL for Windows versions 9.0 or higher, and AIM Mail. To download the latest AOL software, visit AOL Keyword: Upgrade or go to downloads.aol.com.

How AOL Certified Mail Combats Phishing

Phishing and online identity theft are two of the fastest-growing threats on the Web -- endangering AOL users and the Internet community at large. AOL Certified Mail provides an additional layer of protection for AOL users, on top of AOL's industry-leading spam-fighting and anti-phishing efforts.

AOL Certified Mail is an extension of the Official AOL Mail program, which helps users distinguish between legitimate email from AOL and phishing scams trying to steal your personal information.

Protecting Yourself from Online Scams

Stay vigilant: You wouldn't give out personal information to strangers on the street; don't do so in response to an unsolicited email, even if a link in the mail appears to take you to a legitimate Web site.

  • Be suspicious of any unsolicited email requesting personal information.
  • Avoid filling out forms in email messages that ask for personal information.
  • Always compare the link in the email to the link you are actually directed to.
  • Log on to the official Web site, instead of linking to it from an unsolicited email.
  • Contact the business that supposedly sent the email to verify it is genuine.

Keep up-to-date: Make sure your PC's antivirus protection and firewall are current. AOL has partnered with McAfee, a leading name in online security, to offer comprehensive security software for our users on qualified plans. Go to AOL Keyword: Safety or safety.aol.com to find out more.

Frequently Asked Questions About Certified Mail

Q. What Is AOL Certified Mail?

A. AOL Certified Mail is a class of email available to accredited commercial, non-profit and government senders that provides an easy and reliable way for you to identify authentic email messages.

Senders who've chosen to take the extra steps needed to send AOL Certified Mail have their email messages marked with a blue-ribbon envelope icon. This assures you that:

1. The sender of the message is legitimate, and has been verified by our partner Goodmail.

2. You have an existing relationship with this sender, either because you've opted in to the sender's email or because you are already their customer.

3. The sender meets strict standards set by AOL, including very low spam-complaint rates.

Q. What do mailers need to do to participate in the AOL Certified Mail program?

A. The program is only open to qualified senders of email. Mailers must first go through a strict accreditation process with Goodmail Systems that shows they conform to the highest standards for mailing practices. Mailers pay a fee to mark and send messages as AOL Certified Mail.

Q: Will this change the way my email is currently delivered?

A: No. AOL Certified Mail will be delivered to your AOL or AIM inbox in the same way as other messages, as long as you are using AOL 9.0 or later versions of the AOL software, or get your mail at the aol.com and aim.com Web sites.

Q: Why are only some messages marked as AOL Certified Mail?

A: AOL Certified Mail is an optional class of email. Just like the Postal Service, which offers different classes of email -- first class, certified, registered and so on -- different senders may choose different classes of email. AOL Certified Mail is used by senders who have chosen to go through extra effort to send their email Certified.

Q: Does this mean that AOL will no longer deliver commercial email from businesses that don't participate in the AOL Certified Mail program?

A: No. AOL will continue to deliver email from any sender, whether or not they participate in Certified Mail, as long as they abide by our email and spam policies.

Q: What do I do if I get Certified Mail that's spam?

A: AOL Certified Mail may only be delivered from senders who already have your permission to contact you -- either because you've opted to receive messages from them or have an existing business relationship. By design, AOL Certified Mail is not available for unsolicited email messages.

Still, if you feel a AOL Certified Mail message is spam, click on the "Report as Spam" button to notify us. Mailers that generate too many spam complaints will be kicked out of the program.

To avoid receiving additional messages from that sender, you can unsubscribe from the sender's mailing list or block the domain from which they are sending you mail. Visit AOL Keyword: Spam or http://daol.aol.com/security/spam for more information.

Q: What happens if I forward AOL Certified Mail?

A: You can forward an AOL Certified Mail message, but the forwarded message won't be certified. That's because the sender is now you, instead of the original accredited sender.

Q: Will not-for-profits be penalized under this system?

A: Nonprofits enjoy many free benefits on AOL and may contact our users as long as they abide by our email and spam policies. In addition, we're establishing a separate, free program to help qualified non-profits get their mail certified and delivered as legitimate.

Discover AOL provides information about AOL's many products and services, including computer tech support (AOL TechGuru), free software (AOL Desktop 9.7, AOL Desktop for Mac, AIM), Safety and Security tools (McAfee® VirusScan® Plus -- Special edition from AOL) and free services like Video, Radio, Email, Instant Messaging and Parental Controls. Check out AOL A-Z for a full, alphabetical directory of everything on AOL.