Someone used my email address to order a cell phone. What to do?
September 20, 2013 7:30 AM   Subscribe

This morning I got an email requesting confirmation for ordering a phone through QLink Wireless, which provides government-subsidized phones to low-income individuals. I didn't order this phone, and have no need to, thankfully. But what should I do about it?

From time to time, I've gotten notifications that someone has used my email address to sign up for various Web services--Facebook, Playstation Network, hookup sites, etc. [1] Usually I ignore them, though only after determining that no one has gained access to my account. In this case, however, I am given pause. It doesn't look like phishing: The email wants "Proof of Participation in a Government Program," but isn't asking for sensitive information (none that I would possess, at any rate). It seems genuine, but I'm not sure how to proceed. I don't know much of anything about whoever signed up for the phone. His name is Dwight (not my real name) and he appears to live in or near Ft. Atkinson, Wisconsin (I only have the ZIP code to go on, 53538), which is nowhere near where I live (Maryland). But that's it.

The next step, I suppose, would be to call QLink's customer service, but I suspect they won't do anything about it. And I have no real way to contact whoever signed up for the phone in the first place. What do you suggest? Ignore, or try to follow up in some way?

[1]: What I don't understand is, why do people do this? Email addresses are free. You don't need to use mine. And in many cases, unless you plan on hacking into my account, you won't be able to do anything with the Web service unless you answer the confirmation email. It's bizarre.
posted by Cash4Lead to Technology (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My email address is my full name and I get a lot of random things for people with the same name or very similar. Over time I have learned who several of them are, and am able to forward the emails on to the right person. So I think usually this kind of thing is a simple keying error, either on behalf of the person themselves or the customer service rep entering their email address into a computer system.

I would contact QLink one time and see if they can change it. If not, unsubscribe from the emails and don't worry about it anymore.
posted by something something at 7:35 AM on September 20, 2013

Best answer: The reason why people do this is because they think it's their email address. Yes people are this stupid, it comes up on quite often. The best you can do is reply to QLink (email or a phone call, however much effort you want to make) and tell them someone used your address by mistake and they may or may not care. Personally I'd try once and that's it, it's up to other people to know their own email address.
posted by shelleycat at 7:37 AM on September 20, 2013 [9 favorites]

I get wrong emails pretty frequently. I only take action on them if it seems important, which this one does. I think your best option here is to contact QLink. If you have his first name/last name, you can possibly look the person up on facebook as well and send them a message.
posted by troika at 7:48 AM on September 20, 2013

Just ignore it. I gave up trying to correct people who are trying to contact the other echo0720 who gives out my email address as hers ages ago. I do feel bad that she missed the photos of her newborn grandchild/niece/whatever last week though. But not that bad because someone else just sent me ten cat photos intended for her.
posted by echo0720 at 8:01 AM on September 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

shelleycat has it. Message them back and let them know they have the wrong address.

Happens to me all the time. There are at least a couple of people in the US convinced they have my e-mail address ( If I keep getting the messages, I just set up a filter to block the messages. I have had to do this a lot but the messages are a lot less frequent.
posted by futureisunwritten at 8:24 AM on September 20, 2013

I get this a lot as well. My email is and as you could imagine it would work for a lot of people. Recently I had someone sign up for a verizon phone under my email and I tried to contact verizon about it but they kepts on asking for either a customer number or an address. Since I had neither they just didn't bother listening to me. Easy enough to just block all verizon emails as they don't exist in the UK. I also have a full address for what is probably someone's grandmother that doesn't really understand email who keeps on ordering little fairy gifts for kids. I get the order confirmations through in email with full address so I am toying with sending a letter, but it might scare her so I haven't bothered.
posted by koolkat at 8:40 AM on September 20, 2013

I get this sometimes. There is one person who uses an incorrect spelling of the word for her email address while mine has the correct. Even though she gives out the correct one, the person on the other side seems to want to correct the spelling and I end up with it. When it is clearly hers, I forward it with a short note asking her how she is and if the cats are used to the new house by now. If I got something like this, I would actually consider confirming the order as a way to be helpful to the clueless person using your email address. If you are not giving out any information other than confirming an order, I think it is better to do that than to send all sorts of explaining emails that require someone somewhere to track down this person. To me, it shifts the burden back to the orderer and to the company from which it was ordered and off of you to figure out the mess. Or, just ignore it.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:52 AM on September 20, 2013

Response by poster: I tried to call Q Link customer service, but could not reach a human. So I sent an email through the comment box on their website. Unless I get a response, I am considering the matter closed. Thanks everyone!
posted by Cash4Lead at 9:41 AM on September 20, 2013

Someone got my name, email address, home address, credit card number, etc etc and applied for around 30 "pay day loans" in the UK using my email address - I live in Australia (they also tried lots of other identity fraudey stuff, but I won't go into that). I just replied to each and every email with "I am a victim of identity fraud. I have never applied for a loan with you. I don't even live in the UK. This application is most likely fraudulent". I never heard anything back from any of them.
posted by Diag at 7:41 PM on September 20, 2013

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