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Ask Slashdot: What To Do With Misdirected Email? 388

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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  • No problems (Score:5, Informative)

    by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @04:22PM (#45927761)

    Just ignore them, or block the sender.

    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.

    In that case, use an e-mail based password reset, set a new password, and done, as far as having registered for the site, or contact the site's support.

  • by MarioMax ( 907837 ) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @04:30PM (#45927799)

    This. Domains are cheap, and hosting/forwarding is cheap. Plus you get some level of personalization.

    Also easier to remember. bobsmith@bobsmith.com is catchy while bobsmith@gmail.com is generic and easily forgotten.

  • by watermark ( 913726 ) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @04:31PM (#45927803)

    Well, I have a solution to your "email has already been registered" issue. Gmail will treat yourname+blah@gmail.com as the same address as yourname@gmail.com, both will go into the yourname@gmail.com account. Give the site an email address with a plus sign postfix like that and it should detect it as a new unique address. Some sites don't allow the plus symbol in email addresses (even though it's a valid character), so mileage may vary.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 11, 2014 @04:35PM (#45927847)
    FWIW, you can't (any longer) use GMail with a custom domain for free. Free Google Apps was withdrawn for new signups last year and the for-pay version is fairly expensive.
  • by wiredlogic ( 135348 ) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @04:42PM (#45927909)

    If your e-mail address has been registered by someone else just have a password reset request sent to the address so you can take control of the account. I did this when someone registered a Facebook account with my email address and I got tired of the FB spam and friend request notices.

  • Relevant xkcd (Score:5, Informative)

    by Karganeth ( 1017580 ) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @04:46PM (#45927935)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 11, 2014 @04:47PM (#45927947)

    Nah, that's not a real solution. Not when you've had gmail since it's inception.

    What I'd do is...

    Where anytime the email has already been registered, reset it and take ownership of it.
    Mark any email sent to you that you don't want as spam. Even if you save it. In theory Gmail will start marking all emails sent from those email addresses as spam or contact the domain of the sender.

    If it's your email, who gives a crap. A classic dox'ing of annoying, obnoxious and stupid people is what 4chan does. If you feel that the emails you are receiving contain sensitive info, maybe start posting best stuff on pastebin if you're feeling malicious. Otherwise just ignore it with the spam filtering.

  • by Tool Man ( 9826 ) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @05:34PM (#45928205)

    Bah. This cranky old guy (with a *four* digit ID) agrees with Animats. Get your own domain, and control your own online presence, with as much or little mucking about as you like.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 11, 2014 @06:18PM (#45928443)

    This. It's my damn email address, and I get all the shitty spam from accounts where people use my email.
    Don't want me to delete your shit? Use your own email address.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @06:46PM (#45928587)

    Exactly. This also covers the case where your ISP or Microsoft or Google does something that you can't abide by. It decouples you from your provider. You can move to a different email hosting service or even run your own without much inconvenience. It also looks a little more professional than having a HotMail account.

    You don't need to run your own mail server to decouple your email address from your current email provider - even if you want to use gmail. In my case, I've used my alumni email address as my constant email address for many, many years, even though I've changed the back end provider multiple times and am currently on gmail.

    People don't generally send email to my gmail address, and when I send mail it doesn't show as coming from my gmail address.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 11, 2014 @07:11PM (#45928719)

    Backscatter only counts if you send bounces after the email is fully received. If you reject the email between SMTP HELO or EHLO and DATA, you're good.

  • by egcagrac0 ( 1410377 ) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @07:36PM (#45928827)

    All nouns can be verbed.

    Example: all nouns can be verbed. [outpost9.com]

  • by Dan541 ( 1032000 ) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @02:14AM (#45930483) Homepage

    I have found that an effective solution for catchall is to run it on a subdomain. So I have.

    user@domain.tld for my email address and wildcard@catchall.domain.tld for anytime I need to supply a unique email address.

  • by gwolf ( 26339 ) <gwolf@nOSpaM.gwolf.org> on Sunday January 12, 2014 @02:42AM (#45930553) Homepage

    I defend that same point, and of course, my mail address is gwolf@gwolf.org (hey, no point in hiding it, have had it for too long for spambots not to notice!). People's perception is *not* IMO what you say: When I repeat my name after the '@', the most common answer is, "come again?". Some people have even tried to correct me explaining my name can *not* be part of the domain.

    Of course, I'm better off not receiving mails from those people...

I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best. -- Oscar Wilde