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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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  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @04:20PM (#45927747) Homepage

    Get a real mail account and get off Gmail/Hotmail/other free service. You get what you pay for.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 11, 2014 @04:20PM (#45927751)

    Reset password, follow emailed link, and the account is now yours. And, bonus if it's already been paid for.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 11, 2014 @04:33PM (#45927827)

    yes... resumes where your email is "XxLegolaslover81xX@gmail.com" present a far more professional impression than something like "Steven.Alderson@gmail.com"

  • by Nerdfest ( 867930 ) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @04:34PM (#45927837)

    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.

  • Re:Name? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 11, 2014 @04:37PM (#45927877)

    Just send a CV with an e-mail address like these:

    These examples say something about you that you might not want to transmit on your CV.

  • by weave ( 48069 ) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @04:56PM (#45928015) Journal

    I own a very short domain name where the first part of the name is the same as many organization's name.

    e.g., if it was example.com then others have example.co.uk or exampleinc.com etc and I get a LOT of their email because I wildcard my domain for email and people just assume that example.com will work

    As I get them, I add a postfix rule to reject that specific username but I still get stuff, including very confidential stuff.

    I haven't advised these organizations because I fear they'll just turn around and try to dispute to get my domain or accuse me of criminal interception or whatever. So I just delete them and they can wonder why they never got a reply.

    Rule #1: "Email is not a guaranteed service."

    Rule #2: "Email is not secure. Stop sending confidential stuff through it"

  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @06:04PM (#45928367)

    I call that abuse... It is illegal in my country (having a password does not authorize you to enter, similar to finding a key on the street). Second: It is unnice to other people who make a mistake.

    Would you do that to someone you know?

    In a heartbeat, if it meant they quit registering for crap and giving my email address isntead of their own email address.

  • by shess ( 31691 ) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @08:42PM (#45929171) Homepage

    I was getting some emails about an event of this type from a gal who thought I was her son. I gave a sarcastic response like this, saying that while I'm sure would be enjoyable, my wife and kids weren't really interested in traveling to Arkansas for my wedding, etc. She politely explained things again, so I suspect that the real son involved probably must also respond sarcastically, and I think she was kind of offended that I was making light of this important event. I switched into the mode I'd use to explain such an issue to my actual mom, it worked a lot better. I hope things worked out for them. *sniff*.

    In the end, crafting the witty response was a fine idea the first half-dozen times, but after awhile I just got tired of it. It's not like there's any payback, generally these people aren't early-adopters who get a laugh out of it, they're already confused by all this technology, so my comebacks are basically just mean. It's not my job to fix things for these various people who don't know their own email addresses, so mostly I just filter the emails away and move on.


  • by sd1248 ( 671744 ) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @11:20PM (#45929843)
    I'll also add that the real problem is the number of sites that allow accounts to be created without verifying the email. I find that I get a lot more emails announcing that I am now the owner of an account that I did not create compared to the number of emails asking me to verify my email. And yes facebook is one of those sites. I ended up having to create an empty facebook account linked to my gmail address to stop the cycle of other people signing up with my email and then I have to delete the account to stop the spam.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 11, 2014 @11:48PM (#45929937)
    PlusFiveTroll said that catchall emails are bad and that you are supposed to send bounces back.

    msauve said that sending bounces is bad because of backscatter spam.

    You said that backscatter doesn't count if you don't send the bounce.

    Thank you for contributing exactly nothing to this conversation.

I use technology in order to hate it more properly. -- Nam June Paik