Like many I’m sure, I got Gmail early, and secured a firstname.lastname@example.org address. (It seemed like such a great idea at the time ) I’m moving more and more away from Gmail, but it’s still a part of my life, so I have to continue to pay attention to it. Here’s my puzzle, and it’s been happening for many years. I have always gotten and continue to get plenty of legitimate email for other people with my same name. It’s been happening for years, of course. But it still amazes to think of the kinds of things that end up in my inbox. Just this week, I received an email from Great Britian that offered details on finalizing a car purchase, and a many emails from a Levi’s online order, complete with that person’s complete name, address and telephone number. In the past, I’ve gotten many job search results from a dude in Australia, and a guys in Iowa’s gym membership renewal form, complete with full credit card information. And it goes on and on and on. Plenty of emails and plenty of personal details. I could have gotten up to a lot of mischief over the years, but opted to be a good netizen and just deleted the emails, then unsubscribed to the email list that I’m inevitably on. And it’s been interesting, in a way, to follow the adventures of my namesakes over the globe through all of these years.
Here’s my question to the community. Many of these emails mean something. I certainly get the value of using my email address as a sort of throwaway email if our names match. Just throw in your name, add @gmail, and you’re done. Makes some weird sense if you just need an email to sign up for a services, and never need to think about it again. But these documents have some value, especially to the person that is supposed to receive it, the very least of which is confirming an account creation via an email loop. If your’e not going to use the email loop, why create the account in the first place?
I was prey many years to the myth that email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org represented different email addresses, but that’s been disproved. So what do you think that these people are doing? Are they mistyping their name? Are they giving this email out deliberately, knowing that they’ll never receive the email? Are they forgetting the put the number after the name on their true address? Are they just that dumb? What am I missing here? And it’s not as if I could just email them back and tell them that I’ve gotten their email. What address would I use?
Anyway, this whole thing has puzzled/bothered me for years and I’d love to hear the community’s thoughts, especially from those who might have had the same experience.
I have this same issue with a firstnamelastname address at yahoo, and I see a lot of what you’re describing. I don’t think too much about it, but my guess is that it’s a mix of people who have the name with a number at the end or an underscore in the middle and they mess up when they enter the address online, or their condo association or dentist (or whatever - I’ve received both of those) entered it wrong after filling out paperwork, or it’s just spam or fishing email. (I did reply to the condo association to tell them that they had the wrong address.) I don’t use the account really anymore but I do check it and I finally added the yahoo account to one of my Macs to have spamsieve take care of a almost all of it.
I was even earlier – I have lastname at gmail. And I get my fair share. For a while, my brother’s employer was using our last name as the title of his blog. His gmail was first name-last name, but I got a number of emails intended for him, which I forwarded. (I also have “lastname” on Twitter, and there was a window during which his blog was @'ing me instead of him on automated comments.)
There’s also a woman who has a very similar address – her gmail differs from mine by one repeated letter. I’ve gotten email from her bank and from a job interview. Now that I know her real email address, I forward those along, but they’ve stopped coming lately.
My last name is Italian, and I also occasionally get misdirected email in Italian. For a while, I was getting emailed copies of prescriptions written by a doctor who shared my last name. I was able to detect the name of the vendor whose service was sending the emails; I emailed them and never got a response, but the prescription emails seem to have stopped coming. (I’m sure that one violated all kinds of privacy laws, but I only had limited recourse.)
It happens in the offline world too. When someone a block down from me bought a car, the dealer miskeyed their address – put it in my block instead of her block – and I started getting physical mail, including the initial payment information. I gave it to the neighbor and she clearly fixed it in the financing system, but I still get promotional mailings from that dealer with her name and my address.
Same issue, no solution. I get emails that bear very tenuous relation to my actual email. I’d be interested to learn what Google is doing to route them to me.
In the past I’d try to be a responsible citizen and inform whomever that the email was incorrect for the person they were trying to contact, but now I just dump them in Junk.
Same story. Some guy bought a truck from a dealership in the midwest (I’m in Cali.) on credit. Either he gave them the wrong address, or the dealership mis-entered it into their system. The Yahoo address I barely use (but have had for 20 years) started getting lots of emails with his personally identifying information. Repeated emails to the dealership went nowhere. Once I started getting loan-related emails from Citibank, however, I sent an email to a senior exec there, and the problem got fixed pronto. I used to work for a bank, so I was pretty sure telling them they were leaking PII would get some attention.
I’ve gotten volleyball practice emails, car invoices, health care appointment reminders, real estate transaction info (one from an agent, another from a county; different locations), post office box rental past-due notifications, homeowners association broadcasts, credit card payment-due messages, and bank notifications.
What drives me nuts is almost none of these emails offer me any way to tell the sender that they have the wrong email address. You’d think that the banks would want to know they are sending customer notifications to the wrong person, but the only way to contact them is to log in, and since I’m not a customer, I can’t really do that (I’m not about to reset someone else’s banking password in order to try to inform a bank that they have the wrong email address). I would dearly love a way to report back to an email sender that they have sent their message to the wrong address.
The sheer number of different people who seem to accidentally put in my email address for seemingly important registrations is surprising. I mean, it’s easy to understand how a mistake could happen (typo, mistake while transcribing an email written on paper, etc.), but given the importance of some of these communications, it’s surprising how long these mistakes go without correction.
I have gotten this with my firstname-lastname personal domain. My last name is one of those that doesn’t sound common but is common enough that there are probably about 20 other Jeffs sharing it. I think sometimes these are people who heard the name but didn’t write it down and are guessing. (For example, one guy started a PR firm using firstname-lastnamePR as their domain address; once I figured it out, I forwarded stuff to him.) I have lastname-firstname at gmail, and I get a lot of guesses from people trying to contact me.
What’s disturbing is that some places simply don’t pay attention and make no effort to correct mistakes until they finally have to pay consequences. The first time I had a cell phone when I was on the road I got a call from a hospital about a medical bill for [first name] Jefferson. I kept saying that wasn’t me; they kept calling back, even after I called them back and asked them to stop. It stopped after a few weeks, but some time later – at least several months, and more likely a year – it got another call for [first name] Jefferson. They were trying to reach him about an “end of life decision.” That was chilling!
Pretty much same story here, lots of things about job openings (in fields I have zero knowledge of and in cities far away), renting various things, etc. I’ve been sent money twice (informed the sender in both cases, returned the one sent to PayPal, the other the sender could cancel).
Perhaps the most amusing one was a food delivery company in Australia sending an invoice to someone for their order of a) a bottle of gin, b) a bottle of tonic water, and nothing else. The less amusing part was that the invoice contained the purchaser’s home address, phone number, and date of birth (and of course her craving for gin and tonics).
I generally reply when it’s from someone or a company I haven’t gotten one from before informing them of the error, but repeat offenders I just delete.
I occasionally will respond to one of these if it is obviously a person (like someone recently asked for directions to PersonWithSameNameButDifferentEmail’s birthday party somewhere in Florida), but there are just so many!
So mine is my first name @mac.com
Which also works for me.com and iCloud.com and …
And yeah. Lots of people think it’s their address. Or that they are sending an email to the Apple CEO with the same name.
For a long time I had a little script that I would use that would reply to messages that looked important. Told them they had the wrong guy, etc.
You’d be shocked how many people would argue with me about that. Or thought I was hacking them.
For a while, I would post some of the ones that I thought were funny and harmless. But that got old too. The sites still up. I didn’t realize that blogger still existed.
Anyway, I don’t have an answer other than to say I feel your pain and you are not alone.
A long time ago I received a US Mail letter from a woman who thought I was her ex. I wrote her back that she had he wrong person.
Also, a long time ago, I was served with a summons to show up in court. I showed the process server that I was not the one on the summons as I have no middle name, but he said he had to give it to me anyway and I should call the attorney that issued the summons. I called the attorney. He said that in that case, I should just ignore it. I replied I could not do that because the process server has certified he served the summons, and if I don’t show up in court, which I don’t want to take the time and effort to do, I could be arrested. He agreed to cancel the summons, but when I checked with the Clerk of the Court, he had not. I called the attorney again; he said he had just been busy, and it was not a big deal anyway. I had to badger him every day for a week to get him to cancel the summons. I then removed my name from the phone book.
Makes me happy that I tend to use unpopular invertebrates as usernames…
I’m pretty sure I’m the only Paul Brians in the world, and I never get anybody else’s email sent to me via email@example.com, but for some reason Facebook thinks Brian Paul Haabanji, a young man in Zambia may also be me. We friended each other and exchanged a few emails a few years ago, and I see now that some of my photos are being credited to him by FB.
For years, I’ve been getting emails 0 to 3 times a year at some variation on my mac.com email addresses, which includes iCloud.com, etc. that I never use. I’ve been invited to join senior football leagues in the UK, attend faculty board meetings, and parties at the beach; sent information on energy assistance programs, and verification emails for accounts on Amazon, goodreads, and Twitter, etc. etc. etc.
At first I was annoyed. Then I realized that some folks just don’t know their email addresses. Most times, I’ll reach out because I find it amusing and sometimes people clearly need the help like that assistance program email.
Yep, sign me up to the club! firstname.lastname@example.org, & quite a few people seem to think it’s their email addy, even when their name is, for instance, “Tina”.
Bank letters, House Insurance, Car Lease… And quite a few emails from Republican Senators.
99% of these confused people live in Florida or Texas…
I just changed my address to a more complicated one and notified those that I wanted to have it. No more problem.
If it were only a confusion of email addresses…someone is having a mix up with my @me / @icloud email address for some time now. However, it also happened that my wife’s iMessage’s didn’t end up with me, but with someone else. Logging out of iCloud, changing the password and logging in again, fixed it. A while later a Facetime call to me ended at the wrong person, confusing the caller…so I actually fear that Apple has some mix-up with 2 similar iCloud accounts.
Has anyone experienced anything similar with iCloud?
I have the problem with iCloud. I am constantly getting email addressed to a person using email@example.com when my address has been firstname.lastname@example.org for many, many years. I’ve gotten so I just junk it.
As far as I remember Apple “encouraged” me to progress through email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org to email@example.com which is fortunate as no other person can use firstname.lastname@example.org. I guess you missed the @me.com step.
Interestingly this did not happen with my Apple Discussions ID, which remains just name (no @).
I still have the occasional difficulty with old iTunes and App Store purchases.
Actually I did use @me.com for a while but went back to promoting Apple with @mac.com. Have even logged onto iCloud using @icloud.com so I haven’t figured out where the breakdown occurs.