Real Estate/estranged family - how concerned should I be?
October 9, 2020 2:00 PM   Subscribe

I have been estranged from a family member for over 15 years. Over this time they've stalked me and other members of my family, and I've been very clear that we do not want any kind of contact. The estrangement had been working until today.

Today I received a cold call solicitation in an email from a real estate company. It was sent to my personal email account, but addressed to the estranged relative.

The real estate company contacted me on behalf of a neighbor who wants to buy the estranged relatives property.

I am concerned that they reached out to me over this, as I do not want to be associated with the estranged relative in any way, and I'm concerned my contact information is now available to them.

My questions -

Am I just overreacting emotionally due to the stalking/trauma?

Is this a real privacy concern?

If my info is entangled with theirs in some way, do I contact the attorney to sort it out, or would that just confirm to the estranged parties that they successfully reached me?

I know I'm not thinking logically about this so I'd appreciate any thoughts on how this may have happened, how to undo it, and how to think about what I should do next.

thank you!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (9 answers total)
 
I would ignore this and treat it as any other email that references someone you don’t know. No reply.
Anything else will confirm that this email is a working Avenue of contact to you.
posted by calgirl at 2:10 PM on October 9 [7 favorites]


Cold call? Possibly overreacting. I had relatives get similar strangeness on a debt I was fighting that went to collectors. I think the term is "trace skipping" but basically they'll phish for anyway to get ahold of someone who can get ahold of someone that has the debt. This might be, "Oh your estranged relative doesn't live there? Can you tell us how to get ahold of them please?" sort of situations. Really embarrassing for me and having to explain to my family why they were getting it. I still don't think some believe me, but it is what it is.

I'd file it and keep a record of it. I would not read too much into it if possible, I know this is traumatic and easier for a stranger on the internet to say.
posted by geoff. at 2:13 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]


don't worry about it and don't respond.

there are any number of "personal info" sites that publish "known associates" of people by combining various databases - some very old. (I myself have been getting several text solicitations per week from real estate buyers because my cell number, that i've had for about 20 years, for some reason appears on a list as a "possible match" for some other person who apparently owns some attractive property.) some old info of yours probably popped up in one of those databases.

I don't know how one gets one's info off of such lists, I'm afraid to contact them for fear it will just serve as confirmation that they've got a match.
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:20 PM on October 9 [4 favorites]


Since its about the estranged relatives property, my guess is the real estate agent googled relatives name, couldnt find contact info for them, but did for you, somehow* made the connection, and emailed you. You can ignore the email or reply back to the agent saying you cant contact estranged relative, sorry.

*My concern would be how the real estate agent made the connection to your email address. If you email them you can ask.
I would be concerned if spokeo/other people search engines have your email address linked to said relative. Im not sure how you solve that problem without money. Someone here on ask within the last couple weeks had a related question and people mentioned a deleting service and lawyer letters and such.
posted by TheAdamist at 2:23 PM on October 9


The ask i was referring to, there might be others.

ask.metafilter: How do I get rid of MyLife, Spokeo, WhitePages, and the rest?
posted by TheAdamist at 2:27 PM on October 9 [2 favorites]


I've requested having my information removed from many of these "people search engines" but as soon as you get it off one, it pops up elsewhere.

I have a similar situation and I just ignore -- the company does not know and does not really care if you're the right person to contact, and any response encourages them to engage you further. They may try reaching out again but eventually they'll give up and move on to the next name they've found attached to your relative. IME they are unlikely to pass your info along to anyone else since they don't know you are the person they're looking for, but unfortunately it is possible.
posted by sm1tten at 2:29 PM on October 9 [4 favorites]


I agree with the folks above that it's probably a skip tracing style contact. However, it may mean that other people in your family will also be contacted. It might be worth sending a group email to them identifying the real estate company and explaining what to do so you're all acting as a unified front to keep everyone safe.
posted by carmicha at 2:37 PM on October 9


I have a similar situation. I was estranged from my mother, and she bequeathed her home to my cousin. Shortly after my mother died, my cousin also died, and the house is just kind of sitting there, underwater financially, not foreclosed. I have no idea what is the deal is except that it’s a big mess and not mine to deal with.

And every few months I get a cold call, I mean an actual telephone call, from some dumb fuck who wants to buy the property from me. Evidently there is some resource that links me to the property and some suckers trying to make a buck on real estate that subscribe to it. I never have been able to track it down. As you may be able to tell, this irritates the living shit out of me. I handle it by simply ignoring phone calls I don’t recognize and deleting the voicemails. If by chance I do happen to pick up a call from one of these people, I usually curse them out.

So my advice to you: ignore. Ignore ignore ignore. And don’t be surprised if it happens again, and again, and again. Just keep ignoring.
posted by Sublimity at 6:33 PM on October 9


"there are any number of "personal info" sites that publish "known associates" of people by combining various databases - some very old. (I myself have been getting several text solicitations per week from real estate buyers because my cell number, that i've had for about 20 years, for some reason appears on a list as a "possible match" for some other person who apparently owns some attractive property.) some old info of yours probably popped up in one of those databases.

I don't know how one gets one's info off of such lists, I'm afraid to contact them for fear it will just serve as confirmation that they've got a match."


There is a company we used called BlackCloak. They are pricey, but they will clean up the sites that list your contact info, at least for the period of time that you use them. Once you quit using them though, that info may resurface.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 7:38 PM on October 9 [3 favorites]


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