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Ask Slashdot: What To Do With Misdirected Email? 388

Posted by Soulskill
from the respond-in-character dept.
An anonymous reader writes "My Gmail account is of the form (first initial).(middle initial).(common last name)@gmail.com. I routinely receive emails clearly intended for someone else. These range from newsletters to personal and business emails. I've received email with various people's addresses, phone numbers and even financial information. A few years ago I started saving the more interesting ones, and now have an archive of hundreds of emails directed at no less than eight distinct individuals. I used to try replying to the personal ones with a form response, but it didn't seem to help. To make matters worse, I frequently find I can't use my email to create a new account at various sites because it's already been registered. Does anyone else have this problem? Is there any good way to handle this?"
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Ask Slashdot: What To Do With Misdirected Email?

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  • by XPeter (1429763) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @04:20PM (#45927749) Homepage

    Is to change your name

  • Yes (Score:5, Funny)

    by chill (34294) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @04:31PM (#45927805) Journal

    Yes, I have this exact same problem. However, I do not keep other people's e-mail.

    I have been able to track down the correct people to whom the e-mails belong. In two cases, the people are lawyers and the e-mails contained either personal or confidential information. Another case is a general contractor, and I've received quotes from subcontractors, blueprints and general correspondence. In one case it was a confirmation of tickets for a theme park. (I debated showing up as soon as the park opened and claiming the tickets, but ethics got the better of me.)

    These people now reside in my address book. I forward the e-mail in question over to them, and CC a copy to the sender.

    One guy kept signing up for things using MY e-mail address instead of his. (name@isp.com vs name@gmail.com) He finally got the hint when *I* got the login information for his match.com account. (Ethics was still distracted by the theme park tickets case and lost.) Considering he was a single lawyer in San Francisco, I think my updates indicating he was gay, submissive, into BDSM and wealthy might've paid off. He seems to be extra careful in which e-mail address he uses now.

  • by hawguy (1600213) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @04:32PM (#45927821)

    I use my first initial+last name as my email address and get mail destined for a half dozen people. One person is an elderly gentleman in the midwest, I've given up any hope of getting him to stop giving out my email address. I only get a half dozen or so a month so it's not too bad.

    I usually send a form letter to emails where it looks like a person might read the response (as opposed to newsletters, etc). For those emails where I don't think a human will read the response, I usually just hit the Spam button, unless there's a quick and easy to find unsubscribe link.

    Sometimes when an email has a signature that says that if I receive a copy of the email in error I must delete all copies, in my reply, I ask whether they want to work on a time and materials basis or a fixed price $500 contract for me to track down and delete the email from all devices that it may have been delivered to (having emails go to a phone, tablet, several computers, imap download + backup means a fair amount of work to find and delete it everywhere). So far none have been willing to pay. I wonder if I could accept their demand to delete all copies of the email as implicit authorization to do the work and then bill them for the work.

  • by KennyLB (303512) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @04:34PM (#45927841)

    from: lauren
    to: Ken
    date: Fri, Dec 18, 2009 at 10:15 AM
    subject: Information About Loose Mansion: Ken REMOVED

    12/18/2009

    Hi Ken and Stephanie!

    Thank you for your interest in Loose Mansion! We would love to host your wedding ceremony and reception, or possibly just your ceremony! As I mentioned, we'll have to wait until closer to your date before knowing if we can accomodate your afternoon ceremony on November 6, 2010. We are also available Saturday evenings, October 2 and 30, and November 13 and 20, 2010! Please know Loose Mansion is perfect for your group size!

    Attached is general pricing and policy information. I will put together a more specific estimate for you now that I know more about your plans, and will send that in a separate email shortly!

    In case you haven't had a chance to fully explore our website, please know that it contains a wealth of information about our events, including slide videos, photo galleries, guest comments, and answers to frequently asked questions.

    We're proud to say that the Kansas City community recently voted Loose Mansion, "Best Venue in Kansas City" on the KMBC TV A-List Website! To see reviews and photos on the A-List Website, please visit: REMOVED.

    We know that planning a wedding event can be overwhelming to many people...but, not to us! Our expert staff will ensure you have an amazing event, and we'll make planning simple and fun!

    Warm Regards,

    Lauren REMOVED
    Event Manager

    My response....

    date: Sun, Dec 20, 2009 at 2:09 PM
    subject: Re: Information About Loose Mansion: Ken REMOVED

    Lauren,

    Thank you very much for your information about the Loose Mansion. While the information was rather intriguing, I'm afraid that I do not know this Stephanie who you are hooking me up with? I'm very surprised to hear that I am getting married as well, and this was quite a shock to my current wife.

    Also, Kansas City seems a rather long drive from my current residence in Maryland. I'm afraid that while Loose Mansion sounds wonderful, and I'm sure this will be an excellent event, I don't believe I will be able to attend.

    To Mark, Brett, and Seth, whom I have CC'd on this email. Please guys, NO MORE BLIND WEDDING DATES. My wife does not appreciate it.

    Thanks,

    Ken

    PS: Lauren, you may want to try to get in contact with the OTHER Ken, who is actually getting married. Sorry, I have no idea who he is.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 11, 2014 @04:36PM (#45927869)

    from here it looks as if you might have to take your counting skills off your CV

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 11, 2014 @05:28PM (#45928179)

    Change it to Albert Qaeda , or Al for short.
    Then all that NSA snooping will pay off as everyone who emails you will get sent on holiday to Guantanamo.

  • by enderwiggen (174235) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @05:39PM (#45928249)

    I run into this all the time... I don't have a particularly common last name, so I have @gmail.com, however, if you take the first letter off my last name, you apparently get a somewhat more common last name, so everyone with that last name whose first initial is the same as the first letter as my last name thinks that my gmail account is theirs.

    I'm surprised by the number of companies that do not require validation to create an account. Most times I unsubscribe them. Some times I contact the vendor when they keep sending me stuff. Some times I just take over the accounts. It's very frustrating... I have had people try to open bank accounts with my email address. I had 3 different people buy cars using my email address this summer (and the car dealers do not remove you no matter how many times you call). My favorite one though is a woman in Nebraska who orders from Victoria's Secret once a month or so... I've contacted her and asked her if she needs to consider a diet since I've noticed her sizes are going up based on her purchase history. She wasn't too happy about it, but refuses to stop putting my email address in.

  • by lxs (131946) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @06:02PM (#45928357)

    It has always been a teenage girl.

    Well it's your own fault for choosing numberonebieberfan@gmail.com for an email address.

  • by qbast (1265706) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @06:20PM (#45928461)
    That's perfect use case for GUIDs! From now on, you will be known as b91c9121-0a17-4b26-a09d-d5980eb532db .

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