The RAC Email Alias System: Q&As
General Questions and Answers | Helpful Tips
Here are some Q&As to help you understand the RAC email alias system and also some helpful tips in avoiding email scams.
We will be adding more specific responses based on the questions that we are receiving. Our volunteers are working on this now and in the days to come. Thank you for contacting us.
What is a RAC email alias?
A RAC email alias is an email address of the form (just introduced), where “callsign” is your Amateur Radio call sign. When somebody sends an email message addressed to , the message is first delivered to the RAC computer. That computer then looks up your real email address, and re-delivers the message to your regular mailbox. You receive the email as you normally would, but the sender never has to know your real email address.
Why would I want an email alias?
The primary reason is that among Radio Amateurs call signs are familiar and easy to remember. If you speak to someone on the air (especially on the Amateur Radio satellites) it is far easier and less error-prone to tell them “my callsign at myrac dot ca” than to spell out most real email addresses.
Other possible reasons include:
- You wish to let other Amateurs know that you are a member of Radio Amateurs of Canada.
- Your real email address changes from time to time and you want an address that stays the same “forever”.
Why would I not want an email alias?
Someone who wants to send you an email may be able to guess that you have an email alias at myrac.ca. If you don’t want to receive any messages from people you don’t specifically authorize, you may not want to get an email alias.
Who is eligible to have a RAC email alias?
Any member of Radio Amateurs of Canada. This is a service we provide free of charge to our members.
How do I obtain an email alias?
How do I change or delete my existing email alias?
Send a request to the RAC webmaster by using the online form at webmaster.
Do I need to change any settings on my computer?
No. The RAC system will forward your email to your regular mailbox, as you specified when you set it up. You’ll receive that email when you check your regular email. No changes are needed.
Unless you check the email header you will not know whether the email came to you directly or through the RAC email alias system.
What if I want replies to come to my email alias?
Due to generally accepted controls around the sending of unsolicited email, RAC does not support and strongly discourages using your email alias as a reply-to address.
What if messages appear to come “From” my email alias?
Since messages should not come from email aliases, these messages should be treated with caution and suspicions.
How do I receive email sent to my email alias?
You only need to check your regular email and any messages that have been sent to your email alias will be in there too.
How should I start using my email alias?
The first thing you should do is to send yourself a test message to your email alias address () and wait for it to come back. If it comes back, you’ll know that everything is working properly. If you receive an error message instead, please read the error message to see what went wrong. If it doesn’t make any sense to you, please contact the RAC webmaster at by completing the online form at webmaster and provide a brief explanation of your problem. A volunteer will respond within a few days.
Some email providers will block messages that go out from their system and then also come back into their system from the outside, so it is possible that your test message may fail as a result. If this is the case then you may still be able to use your email alias, but note that other users of the same email provider will not be able to send you email using your email alias.
The second thing you should do is to decide how widely you will publish your email alias address. You may wish to keep it fairly private and only tell specific people you meet (on the air or otherwise). In that way, it is unlikely that your email alias address will end up on any commercial “spam” mailing lists. Or, you may decide to use your email alias address as your primary address and put it on your webpage, on your QSL cards, in the “signature” at the bottom of the email messages you send, and so on. It’s up to you.
Once you’ve told people about your email alias address, you don’t have to do anything special. Just wait for email to arrive. Don’t forget to change your email alias if your real email address changes.
Can I receive large email messages or attached files via my email alias?
Yes. There is no limitation imposed by the email alias system. However, if you expect to receive a lot of large messages or attachments from one sender, it would be quicker and more reliable if you gave him your direct address.
Actually, there is a limit, based on how much disk space is free to store your message. But it’s a really big limit, and generally you won’t have a problem.
Can I use my email alias to receive large numbers of email messages?
Yes. There is no limitation imposed by the email alias system. However, if you expect to receive a lot of messages from one sender, you may want to give him your direct email address. It will be faster and more reliable.
Can I count on the email alias service to be around forever?
We expect to operate the email alias service indefinitely, but of course there are no guarantees.
Can I rely on the email alias service to be reliable?
Generally yes, but network outages and local problems at the RAC server can cause occasional disruptions. We make no promises about that, although we try to correct any problems as quickly as we can. Our system is maintained by volunteers and we may not be as quick recovering from problems as commercial email systems.
Is the email alias service private?
Generally yes, but not absolutely. The RAC system logs sender and receiver address and message length. The message content is stored briefly on the RAC system before being relayed to your mailbox. The system administrators generally do not look at specific messages, but reserve the right to do so when necessary. We take reasonable precautions to prevent others from having access to the system.
Will the email alias service protect me from receiving spam?
We do use a spam filter but it’s not really possible for the RAC system to do a perfect job of determining which messages are spam and which are not. Some spam may slip through and some some legitimate email messages may be blocked. Members will be notified that a message sent to their @myrac.ca address has been caught by the filter and the RAC system tags the email with its judgement of how spam-like the message appears to be and marks the offensive email messages with *****SPAM***** in the subject line .
The best place to filter spam is where you have personal control over it, and where you can check up on how well it’s doing – on your own computer.
I seem to be receiving spam from another email alias user. Can you stop it?
No. As mentioned above, users of the email alias service do not send email through the RAC system, they only receive email that way. Since the RAC system is not involved in sending the message, there’s no way it can prevent any type of abuse.
Note that it’s very likely that the message you received wasn’t sent by the alias user at all. It’s quite common for spam to be sent with a forged “From” address.
For more information please visit: rac-alias-email-address-targeted-by-scammer
What’s the best way to protect myself against spam?
The only way to protect yourself is to make sure your email address never goes out to anybody you don’t trust to keep it secret. That’s really hard, and pretty much impossible if you want to be able to receive email from people you don’t know.
A complete tutorial on all the ways your address can get out is beyond the scope of this FAQ. There are some services out there that try to block spam. They probably work most of the time. Sign up for one if it’s worth the money to you. Note that spam-blocking systems invariably risk blocking some messages that are not spam. Better ones minimize this problem.
What is the best way to react when I receive spam?
Just delete it. Don’t waste any time getting angry. Don’t reply or use the supposed “remove me” address that might be in the message (that might be taken as confirmation that your address is real). Don’t bother reporting the spam to anybody; somebody else will have already done so.
You may find, as I have, that if you give each spam message only two seconds of your time, spam isn’t really a very big problem after all. If you are filtering out spam email, you may also want to tune your filter to reject similar messages in the future.
Will the email alias service protect me from viruses or worms?
No. The email alias service makes no attempt to filter out dangerous messages.
I have received a virus or worm from another email alias user. Can you stop it?
No. As mentioned above, users of the email alias service do not send email through the RAC system, they only receive email that way. Since the RAC system is not involved in sending the message, there is no way it can prevent any type of abuse.
Note that it is very likely that the apparent sender is himself a victim. If you think they might not have been otherwise warned, you may want to let them know they are infected.
What is the best way to protect myself against viruses and worms?
Don’t open attached files from email messages. It’s only safe to do so if you know the sender, are certain that he meant to send you the file, and are also certain that he himself (and anyone else who uses his computer) is also extremely careful. This is a tough set of conditions to meet. If you aren’t really sure that the sender is very careful about safe computing, at least run the file through an up-to-date virus scanner before you open it. Some virus scanners can work with some email programs to do this automatically.
Some email programs can be configured to open attachments automatically. Don’t let yours do that. Check the documentation or the author’s web site for information on how to use your email program safely. You might even need to install some patches or upgrade your email software in order to be safe.
Some attachments are pretty benign. It’s probably safe to open a JPEG or GIF picture, for instance.
What is the best way to react when I receive a virus or worm?
If it hasn’t infected your computer, just delete it. If it has, you’ll need to look into some antivirus software to restore your system. Until you do, don’t let your computer connect to the Internet.
Changes to RAC Email Alias System: February 2023
RAC has separated the email alias system from our corporate domain which is designated by @rac.ca and which will now be used by RAC officials, staff and some volunteers.
As a result effective February 15, 2023, email@example.com was automatically forwarded to RAC members’ individual email accounts if they chose to use the alias service. A three-month grace period is now in effect in which both the @rac.ca and the @myrac.ca aliases will continue to work until May 15, 2023.
The changes have already been implemented. You do not need to do anything.
Why Did RAC Make This Change Now?
The use of electronic mail has evolved significantly since RAC’s alias service was put into place in the early 2000’s. Email is now a part of our daily lives and we depend on it as much as we depended on the postal service 30 years ago. That evolution has bred a new criminal element that uses email to destroy information, hold individuals and companies for ransom, and to steal money and identities.
Additionally, Internet domains (i.e.: @rac.ca) have become a vital element of corporate branding and credibility, and email which is sent from a corporate domain is viewed as originating from someone with authority and for this reason we decided to use @rac.ca by RAC officials and other designated volunteers. The use of “myrac” is a step forward in a new branding system that we hope to develop if we are able to obtain sufficient volunteers.
We decided to take this very difficult step now because we have experienced several email outages. These outages – which are caused by abuse of the email alias service by malicious individuals or organizations – have caused the @rac.ca domain to be blacklisted on several occasions. This has impacted your ability to communicate with others by email (using the alias system), as well as our ability to communicate with members, stakeholders and agencies interested in working with us. Removing our domain from these blacklists, as well as repairing our domain’s “reputation” takes considerable effort and volunteer hours.
Lastly, we are also planning to introduce new business communication and information management systems which will enable us to streamline and keep track of all of the various programs, services, events and activities that our many volunteers are now working on. The end result will be a more effective way of delivering services to our members. Unfortunately, these business improvements could not be made without first making the difficult changes to the email alias system.
What about QSL Cards, Business Cards and other items that use my call sign?
As described above, this decision was extremely difficult to make and especially since the RAC Board and Executive are fully aware of the impacts of this decision will have on our members. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.
Why Not Use a Subdomain (such as @member.rac.ca)?
This option was seriously considered. Unfortunately, when a domain is blacklisted, it is the entire domain, regardless of what subdomain (such as @member) may be in use.
Why not move RAC volunteers and officials to myrac.ca and leave rac.ca for the email alias system?
The rac.ca domain is tied to RAC’s corporate brand and image. Our website is www.rac.ca, and it is expected that communications to/from the organization will come from the same domain. While it may seem that moving the smaller number of people to a different domain would be more prudent, such a move could cause confusion and negatively impact our image. The myrac.ca domain conveys the idea that it is for the members (MY RAC), which makes it a better choice for the email alias service.
Is RAC’s situation unique? Are there similar services provided by other organizations and are they experiencing the same problems?
No, email alias and hosting services that are organization-based are common, but all of them now face similar challenges.
The American Radio Relay League provides an email alias services to its members, but they have used two different domains from the very beginning: arrl.org is used as the primary corporate domain, while arrl.net is used for the members’ email alias service. The ARRL has encountered the same kind of abuse of their email alias service as RAC, but since they use two domains, that abuse doesn’t hamper their corporate communications and their ability to do the business of the organization.
Another great example is universities that offer alumnus email services – both alias/forwarding and actual email hosting. There are dozens of examples of these systems being attacked and abused every month, at great cost to the institutions who provide these services. Some universities have started charging for the service, while others have decided to discontinue them for the sake of broader network security.