No, you cannot confirm your email address (Instagram account irritation)
January 12, 2015 4:07 AM   Subscribe

Some kid who shares my fairly uncommon name is trying to use my email address to register their Instagram account and I keep getting emails about it. How can I make them stop?

I am getting emails daily informing me that someone is trying to register their Instagram account to my gmail address (I'm receiving "confirm your email" emails sent to both and I already have an Instagram account registered to this email address.

Each time I receive one of these emails, I click the link "If you didn't change your Instagram email address, let us know" to remove my email address from their account.

I can see the profile of the person attempting to register their account, and they appear to be a young teenager. I can only assume they don't realise that both firstnamesurname and firstname.surname gmail addresses refer to the same account, and don't have their own email address to register with, gmail or otherwise. I don't understand why you would try and confirm an email address you don't have access to, but I guess this is a case of a kid being ignorant of how web things work. I remember begging my dad to let me have an email address so I could register for websites as a tween back in the early 00s.

(This couldn't be some kind of bizarre scam could it? The emails are coming from the legitimate Instagram site and take me to my account when I click the "If you didn't change your Instagram email address, let us know" link. The kid's account also seems to be genuine.)

I would really like this to stop happening. What's the best way to do that? Should I try and contact this kid through Instagram and let them know that they need their own email address? My Instagram user name is the same as my email (e.g "elizabethjones"), theirs is an abbreviation of my name with a period (e.g "lizzie.jones"). I just checked and the abbreviated version is an available gmail handle- should I suggest they register it? Help!
posted by mymbleth to Computers & Internet (20 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Confirm the email, change the password, log in, and close the account. Done and done.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 4:34 AM on January 12, 2015 [19 favorites]

That is exactly what I did. Numerous confirmation emails for a Moose Lodge, Chrysler service, tumblr, fantasy football and most recently I am still not sure the folks who continually give companys the wrong name realize.
What makes things worse is that most of these confirmation e-mails don't accept a reply to correct it.
posted by ashtray elvis at 5:09 AM on January 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

If you don't want to do the abovementioned "confirm, change, and close" option you could probably set up a filter in gmail based on enough criteria so that the confirmation emails get routed directly to the trash folder but other stuff from Instagram still gets through.
posted by Gev at 5:10 AM on January 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Can you contact the kid through his profile and let him know what's up?
posted by alphanerd at 5:17 AM on January 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

I got an email like this, telling me the thing I ordered was out of stock and did I want a refund? I logged into the account looking for some alternative contact details for my namesake, but there weren't any besides the postal address, so I cancelled the order and replaced it with one for a cheap ghastly pottery chicken that had a set of pottery spoons up its butt.

Perhaps you could take control of this instagram account and put some interesting pictures on it, like a picture of you holding a message explaining the situation.
posted by emilyw at 5:18 AM on January 12, 2015 [33 favorites]

Confirm the email, change the password, log in, and close the account. Done and done.

Bear in mind clicking on the "confirm" link of something you didn't request could be an elaborate phishing attempt.
posted by lalochezia at 5:20 AM on January 12, 2015 [8 favorites]

I've had this gmail problem for years with a number of different people, most of whom, yes, appear to be clueless teenage boys. Many sites will not allow you to respond to the email, many will not allow you to change the password unless you know the current password. I developed a canned gmail response for those sites that allow responses and it often that seems to stop the emails. But generally anymore I just delete the message and move on. Life is short.
posted by Jackson at 6:02 AM on January 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Set a filter to identify and delete the messages. Anything else is wasting your time.
posted by aramaic at 6:28 AM on January 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

Bear in mind clicking on the "confirm" link of something you didn't request could be an elaborate phishing attempt.

I'm often paranoid of that too. I have a common name and own the gmail account for that name without any numbers, get lots of mistaken confirmation emails from guys who signup for sites and I presume forget to add the numbers after the name, and I'm constantly torn between deleting and filtering these annoyances and confirming and deleting the incorrectly set-up accounts. I tend only to log in and delete accounts only for sites I have actually heard of and think perhaps one day I might want my own account on, where I can see by hovering over links that the URLs actually go to the site in question -- the others I filter out as spam, thinking they might be phishing.

In one case a few months ago for a apartment rental site in TX (I am in upstate NY) I had luck emailing the third party contact in the confirmation email, and asking them would they tell the person using my email whom they had arranged to show an apartment to in person to stop using my email address... and that wave of misdirected emails did stop. Ah, the small victories in life.
posted by aught at 6:29 AM on January 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've been going through this for years. Dating sites, game websites, instagram, shopping sites, bargain sites, etc. My response is always to confirm, change the email, login and close the account. If that does not seem possible, or if it reoccurs, I contact the site's "support" address and ask them to close the account and permanently ban my email address.

All of this feels like emptying the ocean with a teaspoon, however. I've had some success, and some site owners/support are much more helpful than others (I've even received some "so sorry to have spammed you inadvertently!" emails), but it just keeps rolling in. I wish two step email validation were required for all sites. I wish that so hard.
posted by routergirl at 6:41 AM on January 12, 2015

This happens to me constantly. For most things--even personal emails--I just filter and delete because nothing else yields productive results. However, there is a person with my last name whose *clients* somehow think my email address is his. I don't know how this happens: he sends them an email and they reply to *my* email address. I forward those messages to him with a "hey, this is happening again" email. (For extra fun, the emails are in Lithuanian--fortunately, the intended recipient speaks English).

I used to log in and close accounts (you'd be surprised by how many services still send your password to your email account in plain text when you request it) but it got to be too much effort for something that, ultimately, was not affecting my ability to use my email address.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:08 AM on January 12, 2015

Set up a Gmail rule and route them to the trash. That's the lowest-effort solution, IMO.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:18 AM on January 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

You use the account, so post a graphic with a note saying This Instagram account is in use. The gmail address is in use. Get yourself an email account and get your own Instagram account. Make sure you have a robust password. Then, gmail rule.

My name isn't terribly uncommon and, thanks to MeFi, I got my preferred email address at gmail. I get confirmations of doctor's appts., family news, etc. I send 1 polite email saying it's a wrong address. Yeah, some people reply asking for the correct address. They are ignorant, and I pay no attention. Your teenager is poorly informed about how email and accounts at websites work. You can't fix stupid, so ignore it.
posted by theora55 at 8:32 AM on January 12, 2015

I too have a coveted gmail account without numbers at the end, and I usually have the e-mails "marked as spam" for the unwarranted accounts, unless I actually wanted to use my e-mail address for said account in the first place. Then I'll usually log in and change the password, and either delete the account or delete excess information from my accounts as I deem it appropriate.

For the most part though, I've gotten pretty good at just "marking as spam" and moving on with things. It's a shame though, because I really like having that e-mail address, and have since moved on to something else as my mail gmail account because of the issue.

Also, I've found that contacting the companies is less than useful. I got into a huge runaround with Blackberry support because they couldn't quite seem to grasp the whole "someone used my e-mail to create a Blackberry account that is not mine, please close it" concept.
posted by PearlRose at 9:13 AM on January 12, 2015

This sort of thing happens to me a lot (firstnamelastname@gmail, very common name). Most recently I was appointed to baked potato committee for a school in Grand Forks. It's much easier to just ignore it and wait until they figure it out for themselves. You are under no obligation to assist this person. That said:

With instagram, you can send a direct message to another user (you may need to follow them to do this). Maybe send them a photo that says something like "Hi Elizabeth Jones! I'm also named Elizabeth Jones, we share the same name. You may have noticed that you have not been able to register your account with That is my email address! You will not be able to register with my email address, please use your own. Thanks! Elizabeth"

Also, you probably already do, but make sure you have two step verification on your own gmail.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 9:39 AM on January 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

This recently happened to me; I followed the "I didn't sign up for this" link from instragram (after checking email headers). then I did that again. And when I was prompted the 3rd time, I could see where this was headed. Without confirming the email address, I went to instragram, reset the password and then deleted the account.

It's been two weeks now.

Some teen will be able to recover from the trauma of losing the instagram account they had for a few weeks. It might end up teaching them that this isn't a way to sign up for a gmail account.

Potentially related, recently one of my teens wanted to change one of his social media login names. However the site doesn't allow that. And it doesn't allow multiple logins with the same email address. So he changed it to something random, considered the old account abandoned, and then signed up for a new account. Apparently trying to find out how to delete an old account is too hard. And persistence of old accounts isn't as valued. When asked, he was apparently "meh" that he might have annoyed someone else. He was less than impressed with losing electronics for the night.

Definitely don't feel pity for deleting the account.
posted by nobeagle at 9:45 AM on January 12, 2015

Confirm the email address, take over the account, and add a picture of a piece of paper on which you've written what happened, telling the kid to email you to get his account back.
posted by erst at 10:45 AM on January 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

posted by benbenson at 12:30 PM on January 12, 2015

I have this happen to me a lot. I'm pretty swift at deleting and/or unsubscribing to lots of things. Most of the time I can really, truly unsubscribe from people's coupons (though there's some lady out there who signs (me) up for Michael's coupons on a bi-monthly basis and she must truly believe that the idea of Michael's coupons is a scam because she never receives any of them) and I haven't had any issues with phishing or anything.

I occasionally reply with "this isn't who you think it is, please check with David for his real email address" when it seems important. Dorm assignments, in David's case. Or last week for ballroom dancing lessons, since the instructor emailed twice to see if I was still interested.

In this particular case, I would log in, change the password and then move on. I've had to do it for various services like Snapchat, but in the long run it ends up being easier to block their access than to communicate that they don't know their own email address.
posted by komlord at 12:52 PM on January 12, 2015

Make sure you have a good password for your gmail. I've seen teenagers try to steal another person's email account for no other reason except that "that's my name! I want that account!"
posted by Neekee at 2:37 PM on January 12, 2015

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