Someone's stolen my email address!
October 16, 2006 10:33 PM   Subscribe

Someone's signing up for internet accounts using my Yahoo email address. Help!

Yesterday, I received an email from MySpace asking me to activate my account. The problem? I never signed up for a MySpace account using that address. And though I obviously didn't activate the account, there is now a MySpace Music page linked to my email address.

Then, today, I received an email from a particular actor's message board, asking me to click the link in the message to activate the account. And, you guessed it, I didn't sign up for an account there either.

The address being used is So is there a particularly inept person trying to impersonate me? (It doesn't make sense to fake being me when the confirmation emails come to my address, right?) Is someone screwing with me? Or is this a scam of some sort?

Also, in what may merely be a weird coincidence, my last name is the same as the actor whose message board I am now apparently a member of.

I've written to MySpace and have not yet gotten a response; I can't find a contact email for the message board. I've changed the password on my Yahoo account and directed all potentially sensitive emails to another address.

Anything else I can/should do? How worried should I be about this?
posted by serialcomma to Computers & Internet (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is it possible that the person has the same name or similiar name as you and maybe misplaced letter or something?

You should be able to go in and request your password using your email address from myspace. Then you can delete the account.

Do not click on the links to activate the accounts and go the site that sent you the emails and ask for your password via "I forgot my password," using your email as verfication and the passwords should be sent to your email. Then you can delete the accounts.
posted by wilde at 10:42 PM on October 16, 2006

I would jettison the compromised address immediately. Sounds like you've already got some alternate addresses, and this is a wise policy. I always try and keep at least one or two spambot addresses to use for sign-ups and so on. Only my friends are aware of my true address.

As for setting your panic level, I'll leave that to the rest of the hive mind. As one of the world's leading technochondriacs, I feel my advice would be of no help there.
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:44 PM on October 16, 2006

Oh pisshaw EatTheWeak, are you some spy or something?

This is not a "compromised address" even if someone is doing something malicious they've done nothing to alter the security of the account. If this were true then you'd automatically compromise your account by allowing anyone with fingers to know an email address.

A sane response is perhaps using a stronger password and disregarding the activation emails, they exist for a reason. Just don't activate.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 11:09 PM on October 16, 2006

(As for what's causing this, it's probably innocuous poor keyboard skill and at worst innovative spam.)
posted by Matt Oneiros at 11:11 PM on October 16, 2006

serialcomma, I had a similar experience. I'm still being bombarded by subscriptions to services I would never sign up for - about 50% are from people hawking boats, the rest about industrial water useage/firefighting and whatnot, various state tourism organisations have stopped for now, after some polite emails from me.

Initially, I thought I was the victim of some kind of innovative spam - not so much anymore. The emails that persist seem to be from services that have "problems" with their unsubscribe buttons - they don't unsubscribe. I think my emails are down to someone having a laugh at my expense, although I'm still not sure who it was or whether I know them IRL.

As a matter of fact, after I posted here, the subscriptions increased due, possibly, to my address being in my profile. I note that you have a different one though, so you should be safe from such drive by comedians. Your email woes sound a bit like they could be due to a mistype error. Autocomplete may be compounding the problem.

Keep an eye on it though, there's an outside chance we're victims of a new spamming trend...
posted by davehat at 11:52 PM on October 16, 2006

I get this all the time. I have an address with a popular-ish mail forwarding service at which I managed to snag chris@ when they opened. And now frequently get account sign-up emails fro MySpace etc. thanks to idiots who can't remember that their own email address is chrisp@ or chris_f@ or whatever.

If you just delete their account, they'll just try and sign up again, and I've never had any joy with contacting the website people themselves.

So now, I usually log on and change their profile to

posted by chrismear at 12:06 AM on October 17, 2006 [3 favorites]

My RL Gmail address is . . . and I can promise that I've omitted the period at least once or twice when signing up for things. I've felt like an idiot and registered new accounts, but I've never e-mailed firstnamelastname to apologize.

You're probably just dealing with someone as dumb as I can be. I don't think you should freak out, although if it happens enough to get annoying, I guess you can e-mail a couple of variations of your name

posted by booksandlibretti at 12:38 AM on October 17, 2006

My RL Gmail address is . . . and I can promise that I've omitted the period at least once or twice when signing up for things. I've felt like an idiot and registered new accounts, but I've never e-mailed firstnamelastname to apologize

Gmail email addresses go to the same inbox whether the . is in them or not, or to put it another way, and are (in Gmail's eyes) exactly the same email address. My spam-filter address is and just the other day someone signed up to YouTube using and I got their activation email.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:14 AM on October 17, 2006

Depending on how common your name is, it might just be extremely dumb technologically naive people who, as soon as they get a net connection, think their email address is automatically

A friend of mine has had exactly this problem for many years (and has endured literally hundreds of vitriolic emails from people around the world convinced he has stolen their email address!). I also encountered many people with this same belief back when I was doing DSL installs.
posted by Pinback at 1:42 AM on October 17, 2006

Seconding chrismear. Mock them cruelly.
posted by flabdablet at 4:02 AM on October 17, 2006

I want to tell you to ignore the emails;

There is a chance that this is a new spoofing type; where you click the link, and "choose" a password, and now a third party has your generic password you've been using. Possibly it asks for something like a credit card as well.

I might examine the links without actually giving any info.

Of course, the usual, I could be wrong.
posted by filmgeek at 4:47 AM on October 17, 2006

Gmail email addresses go to the same inbox whether the . is in them or not

Really? When I signed up, the periodless version was taken, but Gmail had no problem letting me sign up with a period in the middle.
posted by booksandlibretti at 6:31 AM on October 17, 2006

booksandlibretti: I just tested it by emailing my firstname.lastname and firstnamelastname addresses, and when I opened the email (it only arrived once), in the To: line it said next to the periodless address "(Yes, this is you)" and linked to this:
Am I receiving someone else's email?
Google Mail does not recognise dots (.) as characters within a username. This way, you can add and remove dots to your username for desired address variations. Messages sent to and are delivered to the same inbox, since the characters in the username are the same.
Keep in mind that hyphens (-) and underscores (_) cannot be used in a Google Mail address. In addition, usernames are not case sensitive. Therefore, it does not matter if you enter upper case or lower case letters.

If you created your account with a dot in your username and you wish you had not, you can change your 'Reply-to address'. To change your reply-to address:

Click 'Settings' at the top of any Google Mail page.
Enter your without a dot in the 'Reply-to address' field.
Click 'Save Changes'.
When you log in to Google Mail, you need to enter any dots that were originally defined as part of your username.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:46 AM on October 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

I had a big problem with this for a while with my gmail account — somebody kept trying to change the password (like, hundreds of times) and tried to sign me up for lots of different web sites. I deleted the mail and otherwise ignored it, figuring it was either somebody who was trying to steal my address or someone who didn't realize the address wasn't theirs. It went away eventually, and no harm seems to have been done.
posted by jacobm at 6:49 AM on October 17, 2006

Why isn't anyone considering a prank? That's the first thing I thought of. Hell, I've done it to people. I know they won't click through, but knowing my mark will get an email inviting them to activate their membership to the Haley Joel Osment fan club is enough to give me a warm, satisfied feeling.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 6:50 AM on October 17, 2006

I have to say, the error rate for people entering email addresses is staggering. I have a Gmail account that's my first initial and last name, and I get about two or three emails a day that are intended for some other version of that email address; I even get the owners of the other versions cc:ing me on their email rather than themselves. It's pretty funny; there's a not-smalltime screenwriter who belongs to one of the similar addresses, and I pretty frequently get edited versions of his work, invoices and bills, that sort of thing.

In any event, delete and forget about the verification emails (although MySpace having an account already visible despite no verification is pretty painfully stupid of them), and shunt anything that didn't require verification into whatever spam filters or service you might be using.
posted by delfuego at 9:44 AM on October 17, 2006

although MySpace having an account already visible despite no verification is pretty painfully stupid of them

The worst part is that (in my experience) they will merrily start emailing you your doppelgänger's friend requests, comment notifications, etc., even though you haven't 'verified' the email address yet. Makes me wonder what 'verifying' the email address actually achieves.
posted by chrismear at 10:56 AM on October 17, 2006

I also have a firstnameinitial.commonlastname@gmail account, and after a couple of years of getting other people's email, I am gearing up to change my address to something a little more exotic. It totally sucks because I've loved having this simple address. For example, just the other day some stranger emailed me a bunch of heavy metal songs for no apparent reason. I expect it's only going to get worse.

Not to thread hijack, but what do you think is the appropriate email response to misaddressed email? I used to always reply, "wrong address," but sometimes this just leads to more confusion--and occasional hostility from the moron who doesn't understand what's going on (this also automatically adds your address to their contact book, adding to the fun down the line).

My only hope would be for Gmail to start offering some kind of opt-in / verification service. I don't think that's going to happen . . . buh bye Gmail, my friend, it was good while it lasted.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 11:11 AM on October 17, 2006

Huh, EndsOfInvention, then I don't know why it threw a random error when I tried to create firstlast. Thanks for clarifying.
posted by booksandlibretti at 11:30 AM on October 17, 2006

It couldn't hurt to change the password on your email account, just to be certain someone else isn't using it.
posted by Gamblor at 11:57 AM on October 17, 2006

I've been getting misaddressed mail sent to "Cpl. Captain Gunn" detailing all kinds of reserve training stuff. I first told them they had the worng address, but when it continued, I started telling them I was a spy.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 12:30 PM on October 17, 2006

Depending on how common your name is, it might just be extremely dumb technologically naive people who, as soon as they get a net connection, think their email address is automatically

I had this problem - with, an account I've had for six years or so. Suddenly, earlier this year, I started getting real mail (not spam) obviously not intended for me - activation e-mail for, e-mails from a church activity group, some guy trying to hook up, a local band mailing list, directions to a job interview from a recruitment firm, etc. I figured out it was a woman with the same name as me who lives in another state. I wrote back to the person at her church group, and asked that person to explain to the woman that she does not nor has she ever had my e-mail address. I guess that worked, because the e-mails stopped.
posted by candyland at 1:31 PM on October 17, 2006

Everyone, thanks for the advice. My email address appears to have been appropriated by a teenage girl whose first name is the same as mine.

I deleted the MySpace account--odd, isn't it, how it appeared without confirmation. The message board account isn't active, but should it go live or should other accounts appear in my inbox, I plan to follow Chrismear's recommended course of action.

Thanks again, all!
posted by serialcomma at 9:01 PM on October 17, 2006

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