Nacho email address
September 23, 2010 7:01 PM   Subscribe

What, if anything, should I do about the woman who thinks my Gmail address is hers? Details below the fold.

Shortly after Gmail was launched I got an invite from a friend and snagged myfirstname.mylastname@gmail. A couple of years ago, I started getting occasional emails obviously intended for someone else who shares my name. At first I thought it was an error on the part of the sender, maybe erroneously adding in the dot between myfirstname and mylastname, but then I noticed that most of the emails are addressed to myfirstnamemylastname@gmail, with no dot, and after a bit of research I learned that Gmail doesn't consider the dot a significant character except for login purposes.

Over the past year the volume of email intended for her has increased steadily, and most of it is obviously the result of stuff that she herself has signed up and accounts, a Skype account, updates for local-to-her schools and businesses, etc. Some of it contains personal information, including passwords to some of her accounts, financial information (nothing seriously sensitive, but stuff like car insurance quotes and refund notifications), and her home address. For years I didn't understand how she could not realize that she wasn't getting all this email, but a few months ago she apparently finally realized it--now every couple of weeks I get a spate of password reminder/reset requests. Despite this, she keeps signing up for things with my email address, and I keep getting emails and notifications intended for her.

I usually try to respond to the senders to let them know their email was misdirected, and ask them to let the recipient know I've been receiving emails intended for her. This doesn't seem to work, probably because very few of the emails come from individual humans. I've also cancelled all her attempts to create a Facebook account with my address, and added both variations of the address to my own account to stop her from continuing to try. Before I did that, when folks who were obviously her friends would send invitations to join Facebook to my address, I replied to them letting them know they had the wrong address and person. None of this seems to have worked; I'm still getting new emails intended for her.

Is there anything else I can do? Is there anything else I should do? On one hand, I'm inclined to think that if none of this has worked and she still hasn't figured it out, there's nothing else I can or should do. On the other hand, there is a tiny possibility that this isn't her screwup, but a glitch on Google's side of things. And I'd also be happy to find a way to get rid of the minor daily annoyance of getting email intended for her. Any suggestions for how to best handle the situation?
posted by rhiannonstone to Technology (55 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I'd just ignore it. Some people are hopelessly clueless.
posted by dfriedman at 7:04 PM on September 23, 2010

This old question of mine has some relevant answers. (I basically just ignored everything, and it eventually trickled off, by the way.)
posted by advil at 7:06 PM on September 23, 2010

You can mark the unwanted e/mails as spam (assuming they aren't from companies you'll ever want to do business with). Repeat e/mails from those addresses will just go into your spam folder and eventually disappear.
posted by HuronBob at 7:14 PM on September 23, 2010

You can also setup a filter for the firstnamelastname (no dot) to trash it or mark it as spam.
posted by msbutah at 7:17 PM on September 23, 2010 [3 favorites]

If you have her home address, you could always write her a letter. It may feel intrusive, but it's a surefire way to get in touch with her, if that's what you want to do. Also, if her friends have been Facebook-requesting you, you might be able to send one or more of them a personal note letting them know what's going on and asking them to forward it to her.

I was in a similar situation a few years ago, and I got in touch with the other person and let her know what was going on. I now have her real address, and I forward things that look really important, and let others know that they have the wrong address.

That said, I don't think you're obligated to get in touch with her if you don't want to. The choice is yours.
posted by decathecting at 7:21 PM on September 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

In answer to "is there anything else you should do"? Probably not--but am I correct that you've never emailed this person, yes? Sure, it'll be awkward! But I would. Once. Briefly. In a friendly fashion.

And then I'd create a "canned response" in my gmail for all the rest and set up a filter so that whenever you get one of these, it gets 1. taken out of your inbox 2. labeled "MAIL FOR THAT ANNOYING PERSON" and 3. receives a canned response informing them about the incorrect address.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:21 PM on September 23, 2010 [3 favorites]

I have the same problem - I too was one of the first gmail adopters, have [firstname][lastinitial] (and have had this since gmail launched), and have got this one clueless nutbar who thinks she owns it. She signed up for facebook with it (FB was actually quite helpful), and I get emails from her family, photos, and one very sweet great aunt - never mind all the political mailing lists she's signed up for. I keep hoping eventually someone will help her clue in, or they'll update their address books or whatnot, but this has been going on for over a year. I've even gotten some pretty important emails from banks and realtors. Every week or so she (or someone else...) tries to reset the password, as well. If I get an email thats obviously personal, I send them back a quick email back telling them they've got the wrong email (and some have been *very* apologetic!) , and everything else gets marked as spam.

If you come up with a better solution, I'd love to know. Personally, I'm worried she'll somehow escalate to google and try and claim someone has compromised "her" account, but I'll deal with that if/when it happens.
posted by cgg at 7:26 PM on September 23, 2010

I have the exact same annoyance, except my user name is just a dictionary word (never doing that again), so I get several different people doing the same thing!

I've been getting notices for bank statements, copies of invoices, emails from prayer groups, phone bills, CVs from people answering a Craigslist ad, and other real email in addition to the normal junk**. No amount of "You have the wrong email. Please let x know that this is a valid email for someone else." replies from me would stop them coming. The phone bill notices still come to me, even though I called the person's cell number several times and left messages. Someone used to try to reset the password on the account at least once a month.

Now it still happens, but I added a note to the "write your own Secret Question" part of the reset process that said "(It's not your account. Please stop trying to reset it!!)" That seems to have worked to alert people to the fact that the account is not theirs. Now I just delete any email that isn't for me - I don't have the patience anymore for dealing with them.

It took a lot pressure off to send them directly to the trash without reading them or worrying about them. I figure that if it goes on for long enough, the amount of missing emails would alert people to the problem. I could never come up with a scheme to filter them directly, unfortunately.

**My favorite mis-sent email came from someone looking for a Dom Mistress, explaining his fantasy in detail. The guy seemed shy and sweet, and I hope he never finds out that some random woman got his racy email...
posted by gemmy at 7:31 PM on September 23, 2010 [8 favorites]

Yeah, I was an early adopter and snagged [first initial][lastname] and there are at least half a dozen people who think the address belongs to them. I get email associated with stuff they've signed up for on a daily basis, and a couple of password reset emails each week. Nothing I can do to convince them the address is not theirs seems to get through to these people. I just mark it all as spam and hope for the best.
posted by killdevil at 7:35 PM on September 23, 2010

A close friend suddenly started to get E-mails saying "we love you Justin" and "justin you are so hot" a couple years ago on gmail. It started to get crazy, her entire g-mail box was getting filled in a few hours. I said find out who this Justin guy with your last name is. She did a little looking around and said, its some 12 year-old singer from Canada who has the same first initial and last name. Needless to say, her last name is Bieber.

You should get this taken care of. If a friend of this woman sends an e-mail, ask that they ask her her to email you at your email address. When she does, explain the problem.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:35 PM on September 23, 2010 [21 favorites]

Another early adopter here.

You can setup filters for repeat offender domains, unless you are also doing business with them. I still get bank statements, credit card statements, phone bills, CVs etc. (lots of etc.) intended for at least 3 different people who share my first name and the initial of my last name. Thankfully, I have nothing to do with any of those service providers, and I have set up a filter to trash those emails automatically.

For personal (and surprisingly often, intimate) emails, I do what chillmost does. I rarely get repeat offenders in this category (though some still share their Picasa albums with me).

Rest of the stuff (sign up notifications etc.) is rare enough to be only a minor annoyance.

It helps that overall volume of emails I get isn't unmanageable to begin with (personal and professional emails are on different accounts). YMMV.

PS: I would rather not setup a filter to delete all email that comes for firstnamelastname@gmail (without the dot in between). Some of those emails could really be for you. If you do setup such a powerful filter, set it to "skip inbox" and label it "annoyances", so that you can empty it out once a week/month or so after making sure that nothing intended for you is to be deleted.

PPS: Priority Inbox!
posted by vidur at 7:38 PM on September 23, 2010

This happened to me very recently. At first, I logged into the accounts for which I'd been sent the password (dating sites) and changed the email address to "". That didn't work, and who knows, maybe there is somebody with that address! But then I was able to find an actual email address for my guy -- he'd registered an alternate email address at one of the sites. So I mailed him nicely, explained what was happening, and he was thankful. He said he'd top using the address. Which made me wonder if he'd actually known what he was doing...

So, yeah, look for alternate addresses.
posted by wyzewoman at 7:39 PM on September 23, 2010

Man, all these stories are so familiar. Once, this guy was involved in some community help organization (think Big Brother like) and I was getting his training emails. I thought, "Here are people who will see this guy regularly! Surely I can get them to pass a message to him!" So I replied. And replied. But they never seemed to catch on. I gave up after one of the managers actually emailed back asking if the account was active (bang head on table).

Personally, I'm worried she'll somehow escalate to google and try and claim someone has compromised "her" account, but I'll deal with that if/when it happens.

This is my concern also. Fortunately, my doppelgänger isn't as persistent. I only get about one password reset request a year.
posted by sbutler at 7:47 PM on September 23, 2010

My husband has about four of these, who think his firstname.lastname is theirs. Funny enough, one has a wife named "Gabrielle" (not Galadriel, but close enough to be entertaining)--we got their plane tickets once. He's gotten invitations to job interviews, shipping notifications, the aforementioned e-plane-tickets, and all sorts of other junk. If there seems to be a real person on the other end of the email, he replies with "please let your intended recipient know that he has given you the wrong contact info." Otherwise, he just deletes it.

And hey, sometimes it's cheap entertainment.
posted by galadriel at 7:56 PM on September 23, 2010

Yeah, I get occasional email for employees of a particular school district—often with purchase-order information and important dates for conferences—due to typos on the part of inattentive teachers and administrators from said district. Their domain is one letter off from the one I use for email. They were there first—the district registered its domain a full year-plus before I was given mine as a gift—so I try to be as gracious as possible about forwarding on any misdirected email to the correctly spelled address, and CCing the sender so they also know what happened. Unfortunately, some people still don't understand—I've had them email me back about details of orders I've forwarded on to them, even after I've clearly signed my initial email with My Name, Administrator,

I've also gotten occasional email about purchases on by someone who thinks they own one of my alternate Gmail addresses. I've contacted Staples customer service, and unsubscribed myself from the sale newsletters they inadvertently got opted into...and I figure, that's about all I can do. I hope they get their stuff, and stop using my email address.
posted by limeonaire at 7:57 PM on September 23, 2010

I had the exact same thing happen to me, though in my case I was not only getting photos and such from her friends, but receipts with her entire credit card number on them. *facepalm* All attempts failed, and in the end, I gave up, and switched email accounts.

As a professional, you're more likely to want to see if the other solutions work first, or just deal with it using some filters. Luckily, I'm a student, so at this point in my life anything semi-professional can use my school email (which is through Gmail, thank goodness).

Not a solution, just adding to the chorus of "been there, done that."
posted by iarerach at 8:07 PM on September 23, 2010

I actually found another email address for my doppleganger (in the cc of a work email). He explained that he just gets confused because he has 'jenmakes'@yahoo plus a different gmail account. He asked if he could buy my gmail address but I declined.

That pretty much ended the work emails, online shopping receipts, and forwarded political articles - for a year or so. Now it has started again.

I mark all of it spam and move along.
posted by jenmakes at 8:08 PM on September 23, 2010

Just chiming in to say that yes, I'm in the same boat. Early Gmail adopter with a very, very common first and last name. I try to reply back when I can to direct people to the right dopplegangers, and I think being aggressive (polite, but quick to reply and tell them to check their contact info) about it for the first couple of years helped train some of my dopplegangers not to go using my account as a throwaway.

That said, of late, I think I've caught another - some 50-60 year old grandmother's Toys-R-Us account, pay as you go phone bills, and various other detritus are suddenly flooding the ol' inbox. In fact, just today I was informed that "Nubbs will be at the Pink Flamingo party tonight." Random email, or code pulled straight from Radio Londres? You decide.

At any rate, I filter them all into a Gmail folder called "not me," originally out of the thought that they'd make amusing blog fodder, I think.
posted by deludingmyself at 8:21 PM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Another early adopter here. Apparently I live in several states, have two dentists, and a torrid romance life.

It's been almost a decade with gmail, as an early adopter I felt so clever getting firstname.lastname@gmail. I've given up replying or otherwise doing anything about the emails. But when I was bothering, I contacted the offices, and tried to get ahold of the other iterations of me. Nothing else seemed useful, because some people know about the dot, so they leave it out when trying to get me. Don't want to trash those messages.

I recently snagged another, more clever email address, but it makes me look like an ass, so I don't use it unless I'm going for that effect.
posted by bilabial at 8:21 PM on September 23, 2010

I had the same problem happen the opposite way. When I signed up for gmail, early on, their system suggested [firstname].[lastname], which I took. Later on, someone in Great Britain signed up for [firstname][lastname].

This became quite annoying. When I went looking for help in Google's pages, they oh-so-helpfully explained that both would go to the same mailbox, and that this was really a feature. Uh-huh.

This was the first crack I found in Google's image of perfection. Why would they suggest that I create a username that would effectively be overwritten by a later user?

That address is basically useless to me.
posted by pmurray63 at 8:27 PM on September 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

Another early adopter with firstname dot lastname. So far I've mainly gotten yearly Christmas letters from elderly relatives of the other person, and e-commerce receipts. One receipt had her phone number, so I left her a voicemail letting her know she had used the wrong email. Actually I think there may be more than one person, unless she lives in both Illinois and Arizona. Anyway, usually I just delete everything of this type without answering - I don't think Aunt Gladys would get it anyway.
posted by matildaben at 8:32 PM on September 23, 2010

I have the same situation with a variation of my user name @ gmail. Interestingly, the person who uses it misspelled the common word to end up with hers that is like mine. Think Docter versus Doctor and her name is not even Gunn. Whatevs. In the beginning, and I do not recall how, I found out hers was one misspelled letter from mine and I would forward everything to her. I even got friendly with her. I would get emails about her daughter's soccer team and I would wish her good luck with the upcoming game type thing. We now have an easy casual penpal type relationship. I send her the important stuff and she asks after me and my kids as well. Turns out that most of the mistaken emails are people she gives her misspelled word email to who try to correct it. I was an early enough adopter where I claimed my entire family's first name and last name as well as first initial and last name. My kids as they grow older are very happy I did it for them.

I would send a letter to the hard address and tell them to email you a valid forwarding address for emails and send the important ones when you can and delete the rest. I would delay by a day or two sending the important ones so that it is just annoying enough for them to want to change them. If you send them right away, you are functioning as a forwarding service and they have no incentive to change.

I just recently signed up for all the variations of my name and my family's name on GMX mail by the way too. I highly recommend it just in case.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:35 PM on September 23, 2010

My story is a little different--but nice.

I'm the early adopter with a Gmail address that I got many, many moons ago during the initial beta. A few years ago, I started getting RSVPs and messages from unfamiliar people.

Then I started getting airline ticket confirmations, but from my city to a place where I travel frequently. I was stumped. I actually thought for a while that I was buying tickets while sleepwalking. Then I noticed the phone number on the confirmation and decided to call it. The person on the other end turned out to be eerily similar to me: gay, a New Yorker with roots in Canada, and with family in Florida--not to mention that our names (and e-mail addresses) differed only by a single letter.

We have since become friends--we're Facebook buddies and I forward anything misdirected right to him. It's nice, actually.

So if you get the chance to contact the woman, be kind.
posted by yellowcandy at 9:23 PM on September 23, 2010 [20 favorites]

RJ Reynolds, I would definitely send her a friendly, polite email if I knew her email address! The only one I have for her is... mine.

I probably have her home mailing address somewhere in one of the misdirected emails, but using it seems a little creepy to me.
posted by rhiannonstone at 10:17 PM on September 23, 2010

I'm confused. I also sometimes get emails intended for someone else, but I figured it was just a common typo.

In the stories above, are there really people who actually believe these emails belong to them? Don't they clue in when they can't log in to "their own" account and stop giving out that address?
posted by auto-correct at 10:30 PM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

auto-correct: Yes, there are; and no, they don't. My own personal anecdote can be summed up by simply typing 'What they said'.

If all you've got is her home address, maybe it is a little creepy but she kind of gave it to you. 'Hi, I'm rhiannonstone -- I'm sorry for getting ahold of you like this, but emails for you have been coming to MY email address and that includes personal information (which is how I got your address). I thought you'd want to know, so you can stop having things sent to [email address here] and so I know where to send things that come in the future.' If she freaks out, well, hey, it's not like you went out and stole her identity, and the electronic trail will prove it.
posted by Heretical at 10:55 PM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

I also have and get emails for another person with the same name about twice a month. It's always family or people who seem to be good friends, which is confusing. Yesterday I even got an email asking me if I was still at work and if I wanted to get a drink from a lady in NYC (I live in Texas). I just always send the people an email saying "you have the wrong Elpea, I'm the one in Texas, you should let her know that people have the wrong email for her since I get emails for her regularly." and they always say "oh, sorry!" and then I still get other emails for her. So, it might just be a matter of ignoring it and letting individuals know so at least that particular person will stop emailing you.
posted by elpea at 10:56 PM on September 23, 2010

Alternatively, some websites have a function you can use to recover a USERNAME as well as password -- you can go into the account that way and leave a message for her saying WRONG EMAIL ADDRESS (or, if you're feeling nasty, delete everything). Since password change requests and/or 'I forgot my username' requests often go to the registered email address...
posted by Heretical at 10:58 PM on September 23, 2010

I probably have her home mailing address somewhere in one of the misdirected emails, but using it seems a little creepy to me.

Nothing creepy about alerting someone to the fact that they're missing out on a bunch of correspondence.
posted by philip-random at 10:58 PM on September 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

I understood your explanation of the problem to be a technical one. Does this other person have an email address in the form of firstnamelastname? Missing only the dot? But that somehow gmail is ignoring the distinction and sending all her mail to you? Or is this woman dim enough to be misspelling her email address? Apologies if I misunderstood. If she's actually typing an email address she doesn't own into all these online forms then I'd expect her to wake up to it eventually. You could speed up the process with a firm but gentle email and tell her you are going to block all mail for her in future. But if it's a technical issue, I would try and find some Google support as it's not something either of you can resolve alone (but good luck with that!).
posted by londonmark at 12:14 AM on September 24, 2010

This happens to me. I probably get at least 1 every 3 weeks or so. The only time I've done anything other than set up a filter rule to autodelete similar stuff is when dude signed up for a twitter account which I had been thinking of doing so I didn't want to not be able to do use my email address to do that since it was already "in use." A quick email to twitter shut down his account and settled that.
posted by juv3nal at 1:35 AM on September 24, 2010

Yet another here, I have, early adopter, and have had some minor annoyances from (and even firstnamelastname@ too - another different person!) up until recently, when she signed up for Facebook, and now I am getting 15 facebook invites/wallposts/etc daily.

I've sent multiple emails to google with no reply, and as pmurray63 said, they consider it a 'feature'. Makes me wonder if the other person is receiving my own email as well. Not very secure on google's part.

No advice, other some of the comments above, which I will probably do myself, because while it has rendered my gmail account more or less useless, there are a few people who still contact me through it, so I can't cancel it.
posted by meowf at 6:04 AM on September 24, 2010

This thread just reminded me to go log into my now-useless Yahoo!mail account and delete the 8000 messages and stupid spam crap for Laurie, Linda (the biggest offenders, but probably more than one of each), Leticia, Lisa, etc Mylastname. I had quite a bit of personal email this time, especially from Linda's mother, so I turned on the vacation autoresponder with a little note saying I am very likely not the person they are trying to reach. That's not as practical a solution if the mailbox is one you are using pretty heavily yourself, though.

There is no really great solution to this problem, though. If I can't get half my coworkers to stop spelling my name "Lynn," I probably can't convince strangers that I'm not Linda.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:17 AM on September 24, 2010

Do any of you share my own concern (as *yet another* early adopter with a address) that some of your own mail is being redirected to an account that is sans "."?

I mean, if it's true that ...Gmail doesn't consider the dot a significant character except for login purposes... then what is to prevent our messages from being sent to this johnny-come-lately's inbox? I have an extremely unique first name, and surname, and yet there are still two individuals (one in India, and one in the US) that seem to truly believe my address is their own. I had to set up my filters, simply because the person in India had recently used my address on their university directory and I was being inundated with requests to join Orkut by friends of this student.

Back to my concerns...this is not some throwaway account for me; it's the one through which I communicate with legal and financial institutions. It has been mine since it was in beta, and I'd hate to have to give it up because of compromised security. Am I naive to think I've ever had any measure of security with this account?
posted by squasha at 6:32 AM on September 24, 2010

Canned responses are ideal for this situation. Most people apologize. One guy replied with "To fucking bad." Jerk.

I figured out one of the intended recipients' emails and let her know what was going on. She was also nice about it.
posted by carolr at 6:37 AM on September 24, 2010

I have [myfirstname] And get a lot of email not intended for me.

Once I got signed up for a dating site (I'm married!) and was getting pretty personal messages and started feeling bad, so I logged into the woman's account and sent a message to her through the dating site's private email. It must have been sort of weird for her to get a message from herself, but we got everything worked out.
posted by notcreative at 6:52 AM on September 24, 2010

I also have this problem, although in my case it is the friends of another [firstname][lastname] sending her personal emails, not the person with my name. They are kind of flighty and have trouble remembering her real email address, whatever it may be. I've found that with real people it's best to reply quickly with a brief email.

She's not doing this to be malicious to you, right? She's probably just technologically clueless, and I'm sure would be happy to sort things out. If you still get facebook invites from her friends, can you get in touch with them to see if they could talk to her? A family member might be best. I agree with philip-random--there's nothing wrong with mailing her to let her know she's missing out on a lot of correspondence.
posted by zoetrope at 7:32 AM on September 24, 2010

This is incredibly weird. I went to bed after answering you last night, and when I woke up, I had 40 emails about a Facebook account created by a 13 year old girl using a variant of my address. I've been trying all morning to get in touch with the folks at Facebook to straighten it out. Because I have all her emails, it seems that I have access to her account and she doesn't, because she never got the final password setup message. She keeps trying to reset the password, so I get more emails, and there's no way for me to get in touch with her. I've considered FB messaging her friends to ask them to get in touch with her, but I'm hesitant because they're 13 and I'm an adult and everyone on the internet is so skittish about kids getting email from strangers. Grrr.
posted by decathecting at 7:43 AM on September 24, 2010

squasha wrote: "Do any of you share my own concern (as *yet another* early adopter with a address) that some of your own mail is being redirected to an account that is sans "."? "
this is not my understanding of how this works.,,, etc, are all your email address, none of them can be anyone else's. Look here.
posted by secretseasons at 8:04 AM on September 24, 2010

I too have a very common first name and last name and was an early adopter. I generally try to be helpful once, but after that the filters come out where possible. If the accounts are set up for a service I use and can't/don't want to filter, I will request that the account be removed from the service provider because it has an incorrect email address. Once that is done, I'll sometimes register an account after that with my address so they can't do it again.

What is even more fun is when someone's friends can't get their address right. Not that I don't want all those forwarded emails warning me to change the privacy settings on my facebook account to "Please, Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em" or LOLcats, but I just don't want them. In that case, I'll just respond to everyone you CC'd and mention that every time you use the wrong email address, God kills a kitten. Peer pressure can be quite motivating.
posted by boba at 8:48 AM on September 24, 2010,,, etc, are all your email address, none of them can be anyone else's.

Yep. And it's trivial to test by sending yourself email at those addresses.
posted by juv3nal at 10:35 AM on September 24, 2010

Change your email address. Use the same one but add some numbers to the end, and move on.

If you're really tied to having JUST your name, buy your own domain and make an email address with just your name there. Then forward those emails to a new gmail account.

It only sucks for a couple of weeks.
posted by coolguymichael at 10:39 AM on September 24, 2010

Weird. I have myfirstnamemylastname at gmail (no dot) and I've had that account much longer than the myfirstname.mylastname that's recently started generating mail to me. So, what I find interesting in this thread is that it seems most mefi posters think that is the norm and namename is the later variant, when in my case it was the exact opposite.

I found my email almost-twin on twitter and let her know that way that I was receiving her airline confirmations and requests from clients. Clients who want her to make them feel bad, very bad.
posted by 100watts at 10:43 AM on September 24, 2010

Oh, Decathecting, don't expect Facebook to do anything, I've sent numerous comments to them concerning the same thing - with absolutely no reply. The individual with my email address (without the "dot") tried to activate her facebook a number of times and every time I got an email, I "reported" it through the link provided by Facebook, and it didn't do a thing but delay the inevitable.

The best part is, I did email the and the person who responded claimed (who is apparently based in AZ) that she never created a facebook account and I'm inclined to believe her because the wall posts I've seen through the email notifications appear to have a "british accent" (read: lots of very odd netspeak), and the other 'offender' is in the UK somewhere, so I'm at a complete loss.

And Squasha, after gmail's lack of reply/consideration for this issue, I wouldn't consider the account secure and personally, I took measures to use a different account for any financial/personal exchanges since someone tried to sign up the account to purchase a TRUCK off eBay two years ago. *rolls eyes in frustration*
posted by meowf at 10:45 AM on September 24, 2010

There's some basics in this thread that I don't understand. A lot of you are talking about being and worrying about getting "someone's else's" emails where that "someone else" is But there can't be a "someone else" with that email because that's your email address, at least according to this.

I understand the more basic point that some people are idiots and can't even manage to give their friends their own proper contact info, but I am not understanding this whole what-if-my-account-is-duplicated-by-someone-else's thing... that's not possible. Right?

posted by secretseasons at 11:09 AM on September 24, 2010

OK, reading these answers I am legitimately confused. My gmail login/email address is firstname.lastname. I just emailed firstnamelastname and I got it in my inbox. Then I logged into gmail successfully using firstnamelastname and my password. When I tried to make a new account using firstnamelastname, it told me it was unavailable.

Does that mean that someone who is not me has registered firstnamelastname? I've never (to my knowledge) gotten mail intended for someone else, but now I am worried that someone is out there possibly getting mail meant for me. Can someone reassure me this is not possible?
posted by cosmic osmo at 11:36 AM on September 24, 2010

secretseasons, I can't speak for others in the thread, but for me, that is exactly why this is such a baffling situation. Someone else who shares my name thinks her email address is ourfirstnameourlastname@gmail, and uses it to sign up for mailing lists and accounts. Those emails come to me, because I signed up for ourfirstname.ourlastname@gmail and as far as Gmail is concerned that's the same address.

I'm not concerned with duplicated accounts or potentially missing any of my email; my understanding of the way Gmail works is the same as yours, and I don't think it's possible for two users to share duplicated accounts.

I do think it's not entirely outside the realm of possibility that at some point there was a glitch on Google's side that allowed her to sign up for an account (maybe some other sort of non-Gmail Google account) with the username ourfirstnameourlastname even though I'd already claimed ourfirstname.ourlastname, and maybe she assumed that it should also be her Gmail address. I want to believe this is possible mostly because I don't want to believe that there's someone out there who is as cluless as my othernym would have to be to not understand what's going on. :)
posted by rhiannonstone at 11:37 AM on September 24, 2010

cosmic osmo wrote: "Then I logged into gmail successfully using firstnamelastname and my password. When I tried to make a new account using firstnamelastname, it told me it was unavailable.

Does that mean that someone who is not me has registered firstnamelastname?
No, it means you have already registered firstnamelastname. That's why you were able to log in to it with your password.
posted by secretseasons at 11:52 AM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

secretseasons, I registered firstname.lastname. I guess I am confused about whether the OP's issue is a technical one or a case of someone typing in the wrong email address, over and over again. I try not to underestimate people's technical savvy, but why on earth would someone keep signing up for things with an email address that they aren't capable of signing into?
posted by cosmic osmo at 12:18 PM on September 24, 2010

I try not to underestimate people's technical savvy, but why on earth would someone keep signing up for things with an email address that they aren't capable of signing into?

Because they are bad at typing or otherwise mistaken about what their own email address is. It happens. Even repeatedly.
posted by juv3nal at 12:26 PM on September 24, 2010

My gmail account is "senior"... you can't imagine how many senior citizen dating sites, voting registrations, knitting clubs, etc. that email me on a daily basis. And god bless poor Barbara Senior in Iowa who thinks it is her username. I wonder if she ever questions why she never receives any email.
posted by krunk at 12:53 PM on September 24, 2010

I teach adults basic computer skills. Many people don't really understand concepts of a username or an email address or actually how to sign in after signing up.

This woman could have signed up for a gmail address with a unique username but doesn't really understand that doesn't belong to her.
posted by soupy at 3:20 PM on September 24, 2010

I recently called one of my Gmail doppelgangers because the receipt for an order she placed for nursing shoes came to my account. She eventually called me back and was gracious and said she changed the email address with the online retailer, but I'm still getting spam and order notices from the retailer.

My doppelgangers? They're all so luck I'm a nice person.
posted by TrishaLynn at 8:39 PM on September 24, 2010

Reading through this, I just keep picturing a friend of mine who recently made the switch from yahoo to gmail. At yahoo she had firstnamelastname@yahoo. She wanted that for gmail, too, but it was already taken, of course. She ended up with smallphrase@gmail.

What she does now is mix up the @yahoo and @gmail parts about 70% of the time. She's so used to typing her name as her email address that she does it without thinking, and then some part of her brain reminds her she uses gmail now and without further thought adds the gmail part and thinks she's done it correctly. Confused new adopter mis-typing.

Dollars to donuts this is what is happening to the vast majority of y'all in this thread.
posted by Brody's chum at 8:12 AM on September 25, 2010

For the record, I've been told that what I described earlier could not have happened in that order. To which I say, it's possible I'm wrong about that. Yet Google has long insisted that what happened to me cannot happen.

However, I stand by my main point, of which I am positive: I took Gmail's suggestion for my username [first.last], and the result was an unusable account because I get some else's [firstlast] mail.
posted by pmurray63 at 12:41 PM on October 17, 2010

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