Is this an attempt at identity theft or a result of poor security?
September 26, 2016 3:46 PM   Subscribe

I can’t figure this out. At the start of this month, I got an email at the junk mail account I have at yahoo, informing me that an account had been created in gmail that’s only two characters off from the gmail address that I use as my main e-mail account. What’s going on?

My primary account is at gmail, and it’s something like fsmith32121@gmail.com (initial, last name, 5 digits). I have a account for receiving spam at yahoo.

At the start of this month, I got an email at that yahoo account saying a gmail account was created. The gmail account is just a few mistyped characters off my proper one, like fsmith32qw1@gmail.com (versus fsmith32121@gmail.com ).

There are hardly any connections between my gmail account and my yahoo account.

The email from gmail seems legit. It’s from mail-noreply@google.com. When I used the link at the bottom of the email that says: “If you didn't create this Gmail address and don't recognize this email, please visit: URL” I got “Either this link is invalid, or your email address has already been disconnected from the Google Account associated with this link.”

I don’t remember creating fsmith32qw1@gmail.com. I did, however, recently sell a few used computers (that I thought I had zeroed out.)

Is this anything to be concerned about? What could it be? Are there any precautions I should take?

FWIW, my gmail account is on two-factor authentication. My last name is common, but to have someone else create the same email with the last five digits so close to my main account is suspicious.

Thanks!
posted by Roy Batty to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
 
Is the yahoo address also something like fsmith32121@gmail.com? If it's something more like randomstringofcharacters@yahoo.com then this is fishy, but if it's similar to your gmail this is probably someone creating a google account, and misremembering their yahoo account when asked to give a secondary email address. A coincidence, but not an astronomically unlikely one. In which case, just click the "disavow" link in the email you got from Google telling you about the new account.
posted by caek at 4:00 PM on September 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


if it's similar to your gmail this is probably someone creating a google account, and misremembering their yahoo account when asked to give a secondary email address

This. This happens to me ALL THE TIME. Change your passwords if you want but never underestimate people's inability to remember their own email addresses.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 4:07 PM on September 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


Yup, happens to me all the friggen time as well -- heck, got one today even. The sheer number of people who think the own my email address is both staggering and frightening.
posted by cgg at 4:21 PM on September 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Nthing that someone most likely put down your yahoo address as their alternate email account for their gmail account. Not much you can do about that, but it should be safe to ignore as it doesn't actually grant them access to anything of yours, especially not your gmail account.
posted by Aleyn at 4:54 PM on September 26, 2016


Thanks all -- yeah, I think it's fishy then. My yahoo email address is different from my gmail address. My yahoo address has no apparent links to my gmail.

If my gmail is initial, last name, 5 digits - ie fsmith32121@gmail.com

My yahoo is relative's initialx2, town, birthyearx2 - ie gacentercity8586@yahoo.com

And other tips would be appreciated!
posted by Roy Batty at 5:43 PM on September 26, 2016


There are hardly any connections between my gmail account and my yahoo account.

Is one forwarded to the other? Do they share a password or security questions? Because Yahoo got popped in 2014 and the extent - hundreds of millions of email addresses, unencrypted security question answers, and encrypted passwords - only came to light very recently.

So it is possible, under certain circumstances, for there to be a discoverable link between the accounts. Though I think random coincidence helped by some spammer generating millions of fake accounts across two popular mail services is a not entirely zero chance as well.
posted by zippy at 11:14 PM on September 26, 2016


The gmail is not regularly forwarded to the yahoo or vice versa, though there may have been instances where I received an email at one account and I needed it at another account and forwarded it.

They don't share a password, and I don't think they share security questions.

That being said, how would the scam work?
posted by Roy Batty at 5:41 PM on September 27, 2016


"When I used the link at the bottom of the email that says: “If you didn't create this Gmail address and don't recognize this email, please visit: URL” I got “Either this link is invalid, or your email address has already been disconnected from the Google Account associated with this link.”"

What url was the link pointing to?

Also, is the yahoo email address set as the "recovery email address" (or whatever it's called) in your gmail account?
posted by I-baLL at 9:01 AM on September 28, 2016


Thanks for your interest.

The link pointed to https://accounts.google.com/AccountDisavow?adt=....

The yahoo email address is the main gmail's recovery account.
posted by Roy Batty at 7:24 PM on September 28, 2016


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