back to article I'm still not that Gary, says US email mixup bloke who hasn't even seen Dartford Crossing

Despite El Reg writing about the case of the Ryanair passenger earlier this year who was registered for a flight in error after somebody mistyped his email address, poor old "Not That Gary" has been struck by the same problem again – thanks to someone using a toll bridge in southeast England. Gary – no surname – was an early …

  1. Julz


    The Reg is turning into That's Life! Watch out for the oddly shaped vegetables...

    1. monty75

      Re: TV

      oddly shaped vegetables

      Actually we prefer the term "commentards"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: TV

        ... oddly shaped commentards?

    2. big_D Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: TV

      Esther, sausages!

    3. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

      Re: TV

      IT angle:



      1. Christoph

        Re: TV

        ++?????++ Out of Cheese Error. Redo From Start.

        1. Kane

          Re: TV

          +++Whoops! Here comes the cheese! +++

          1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

            Re: TV

            Rude alert! Rude alert! An electrical fire has knocked out my voice recognition unicycle!

        2. TheRealRoland

          Re: TV

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: TV


        Oi! Don't mention those things - innocent cats may be reading!

        (No - I don't understand the 'cats are afraid of cucumbers meme either - none of my lot are. Flea treatments, fireworks and lack of instantly-available food frighten them, not oddly-shaped green watery vegetables..)

        1. irrelevant

          Re: TV

          I had a cat once that used to bring cucumbers home! There must have been a very annoyed gardener nearby, growing these things and seeing them go missing. Apart from the one still in shrink-wrap. She'd drag them in through the cat flap and call her kittens, whom would arrive and look very confused.

          She was half ferral, we were looking after her for Cat's Protection, which might have been a reason for her weird tastes in food..

      3. Red Ted
        Thumb Up

        Re: TV

        My favourite is still the original from Charles Babbage:

        "If, however, any mistake had been made by the attendant, and the wrong logarithm had been given to the engine, it would have discovered the mistake, and have rung a louder bell to call the attention of its guide, who on looking at the proper place, would see a plate above the logarithm he had just put in with the word Wrong engraven upon it."

        With many thanks to the great Sydney Padua for spotting that!

    4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: TV

      oddly shaped vegetables..

      <Spitting Image Mode=On>

      Yes, they'll have the steak too..


  2. Ordinary Donkey

    Can I get you to do Morrisons as well?

    I still (for now) have my mobile number from my time in the UK. Someone's put it on their Morrisons account and Morrisons duly inform me when their next delivery is going to be received.

    I contacted Morrisons and they said that all they can do is ask the user to correct it since it's a breach of some regulation or other to do anything themselves.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Can I get you to do Morrisons as well?

      That is likely the responsible answer. If the user is legitimate, then it is indeed up to the user to correct any profile mistakes.

      Unfortunately, that means that you are subject to the whims of a nitwit that couldn't enter his own phone number properly.

      1. Steve Kerr

        Re: Can I get you to do Morrisons as well?

        So if they accept responses back, e.g. 1 change the time, 2 cancel the order - then hit 2 every time.

        Someone else can't enter their number correctly - cancel all their shopping :)

        1. Ordinary Donkey

          Re: Can I get you to do Morrisons as well?

          If they just accepted responses back saying 'wrong number' that would be plenty.

          Or, you know, require a code to add a phone number to your account.

        2. veti Silver badge

          Re: Can I get you to do Morrisons as well?

          That would probably qualify as hacking and aggravated identity theft.

      2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

        Re: Can I get you to do Morrisons as well?

        That is likely the responsible answer. If the user is legitimate, then it is indeed up to the user to correct any profile mistakes.

        The correct thing to do would be to mark the information "unknown". If it is the customer then let them do that, if it isn't then it is in fact true. The customer can still correct the information any time they choose to.

        Otherwise people are stuck in this 'wrong number' / 'wrong email address' trap forever if the actual customer has died and there's no one but the customer can change things.

        I know from personal experience the NHS manage to sort such problems out.

        After all it's in their interests to do so before they get legal action started against them. Which is the best threat and course if they want to play silly buggers. Turning the tables is sometimes the only way to make arseholes see sense.

      3. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

        Re: Can I get you to do Morrisons as well?

        Apart from continuing to send messages to a number that you've been told belongs to someone else is in itself against regulations.

        By all means, send a verification number to it, then when the inconvenienced person can recite that number back to you, delete it from the system (otherwise they'll end up deleting valid details)

    2. Natalie Gritpants Jr

      Re: Can I get you to do Morrisons as well?

      Download the Morrisons app, log in and order 100 pairs of pants.

      1. Kane

        Re: Can I get you to do Morrisons as well?

        Plus two family size containers of Vaseline, and a pair of cucumbers.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can I get you to do Morrisons as well?

      Someone has signed our on-call phone at work, up to Deliveroo.

      So whoever's working weekends gets texted about servers going offline, and some eijit's KFC delivery.

      1. SloppyJesse

        Re: Can I get you to do Morrisons as well?

        A GP near London has registered my mobile for a patient, so I get helpful reminders of their physio appointments.

        Cannot reply to the number, no details of the GP and the 3rd party system provider doesn't respond to emails.

        Amazing that an NHS provider doesn't do basic verification.

        I'm waiting for a message to include PII so I can report to the ICO - maybe they will care.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Can I get you to do Morrisons as well?

          No need to wait. GDPR covers personal information, not just identifiable. A mobile number, being an 07 number is a personal number. Ergo it is personal information. Not sure where discussions officially landed in that line though.

          Additionally the data they hold is incorrect. Under the act they must correct this if informed. Failure to respond by the system provider, your only point of contact could be a breach and reportable.

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Can I get you to do Morrisons as well?

          >Cannot reply to the number, no details of the GP and the 3rd party system provider doesn't respond to emails.

          Complain to your mobile provider that you are receiving unsolicited messages from the 3rd party system provider.

          When I last had to do it, the EE assistant made the call, so I could eavesdrop.

      2. Tom 7

        Re: Can I get you to do Morrisons as well?

        Try replying with a new delivery address.

    4. TechnicalVault

      Re: Can I get you to do Morrisons as well?

      Actually it's a breach of the data protection act/GDPR for them to knowingly hold incorrect information too.

      "(d) accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date; every reasonable step must be taken to ensure that personal data that are inaccurate, having regard to the purposes for which they are processed, are erased or rectified without delay (‘accuracy’);"

      Also given that it is your personal data (the mobile number) that they are processing without either consent or in fulfilment of a contract it is illegal for them to process that data too.

      Your best bet to get this things resolved is to write an email reminding them they are processing your data illegally to

  3. Evil_Goblin

    "We asked the Highways Agency, which oversees the Dartford Charge, what was going on. Red-faced press officers eventually confirmed to us that Gary's email address had been deleted."

    No you didn't, as the Highways Agency hasn't existed since 2015...

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Evil_Goblin

      Before the inevitable snark about the tips and corrections link - if it was something other than a mailto (maybe a form?) I would love to use it, but I ain't about to email you from my work address :)

      1. Hans 1

        What are you doing reading this at work, get some work done!

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          get some work done!

          This *is* work! Part of my job consists of "keeping up to date on IT trends" and I can (just about) justify using El Reg for that purpose..

          1. MyffyW Silver badge

            This is pretty much the only thing I'm now skilled at...

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            <<"keeping up to date on IT trends"


            using El Reg for that purpose>>

            Very tenuous.

            1. Peter2 Silver badge

              using El Reg for that purpose>>

              Very tenuous.

              You know, once upon a time quite a few years ago I was working in the NHS. We had been having a heck of a problem all day, and I ended up working through my offical lunch time trying to figure out what the hell was going on with the VPN's going up and down like yo-yo's. Nobody knew, from local to national level IT support and everybody was frantically trying to figure out what the cause of the issue was.

              Eventually, I took a fairly short lunch break just before a high level meeting with the directors of several trusts, who one imagines had some reasonable intention of having guts for garters as a result of not being able to fix problems seriously affecting quite literally hundreds of NHS sites we were supporting. For my short lunch break, I dashed down to the canteen, grabbed a sandwich and had it at my desk while reading El Reg. One of the lead news articles was about some scrote having nicked half the contents of a BT Exchange in London which was compromising VPN's nationally, to customers including the NHS.

              After recovering from choking on my sandwich, a copy went to my manager, which resulted in the entire problem and change management teams, the entire department management and the high level management of several NHS trusts turning up to my desk to have a look. Copies then started going everywhere via email, fax and being printed and faxed. The NHS central teams did an update that went out nationally based entirely on that information.

              Word travelled rapidly upwards under great pressure from below. I'm given to understand that multiple ministers ended up reading that article, and having done so they then started putting immense and intolerable pressure upon the highest levels of Openreach to get the problem sorted, which bore quick results.

              The main question then getting asked was, "WHY DID WE NOT KNOW THIS SOONER?" The honest answer of "well, one of our staff just reads that site during his lunch break, and he had a late lunch because he was working on figuring out the problem" did not go down too well. Suffice to say that reading El Reg became not just an officially endorsed work related activity but part of multiple job descriptions at that workplace. Hell, El Reg ended up being on the list of sites read by the PR departments media monitoring operation with a directive to report any relevant issues to IT & their upper management.

              Arguing that it's "Very tenuous" to use El Reg to keep up to date with what's going on in IT either on a day to day basis or to keep abreast of general industry trends is in itself "very tenuous". The tone of the reporting might be that of a tabloid, but the reporting is top notch. As presumably you know, since your here reading and commenting on the articles.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Yeah, but ...

                For every 1 commentard who is allowed/mandated to read ElReg at work, I'll bet there are another 500 who are skiving off. I'd further wager that of those 500, probably 30+ would be allowed if they asked permission, with a business case at hand for doing so.

                And to bring it back on topic, I'll bet over 90% of the commentards who are allowed to read ElReg at work are also allowed to drop ElReg a "corrections" email from their official work email account.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                The tenuous thing was a joke, sorry Poe's Law again.

      2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Yeah, why can't The Reg have a simple Contact form ? It's not all that difficult (done it myself).

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. matt 83

          simple contact form?

          There's nothing simple about a contact form if you're doing it right.

          Most "simple" contact forms I see usually just blindly fire off an email to an address with no ability to deal with problems like the server it's sending to being temporarily down or the email being rejected somewhere as spam etc. Most don't even log the activity so when someone finally realises that the form has stopped working there's no record of who has used it in the 6 months since the last message was received from the form (probably when the dev who set it up did a test message).

          For a contact form to work as expected it either needs to be accessed through a web portal or maybe feed directly into something like a google sheet rather than sending an email. If it is sending an email then it needs to be able to queue messages in case of server downtime and it needs to send some kind of weekly digest so the person receiving knows: a) that the form is still working, b) whether any of the submissions that week failed to be delivered.

          Suddenly the simple contact form isn't so simple especially when you can just put a mailto link in there and not have to reinvent a lot of stuff that's already built into email.

          1. phuzz Silver badge

            Re: simple contact form?

            I (an grate webdeveoloper): "Why not just get it to cat the results into a text file on the webserver? Wait, this doesn't seem to be working, I'll give it root access and chmod everything 777 to make sure it's not a permissions issue. That'll work fine!"

        3. DontFeedTheTrolls

          Yup, simple form to raise corrections.

          And a field to add your phone number so that El Reg can keep you updated by text on the progress of the changes you've suggested and the thanks for being helpful and pragmatic...

        4. Kiwi

          Yeah, why can't The Reg have a simple Contact form ? It's not all that difficult (done it myself).

          Contact forms usually seem to involve recraptcha and buggering around with your security letting all sorts of dodgy scum have at the insides of your data.

          A basic email link is just that. If you don't know how to use a different 'from' address (or how to wait till after hours/send from your mobe if allowed at work/nip out to lunch etc etc and do it then) perhaps your should turn in your commentardcard, and probably aren't up to much corrective action anyway... :)

          (Why so many places use recraptcha or any other 3rd-party system instead of something very basic that could be very simply done in PHP is beyond me)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            The recaptcha thing is because with a lot of off-the-peg form scripts, spammers can use the form to send spam automatically. Captcha is a papering-over-the-cracks method of stopping this. So now you know.

            1. Kiwi
              Big Brother

              The recaptcha thing is because with a lot of off-the-peg form scripts

              Not quite correct.. The overall purpose is to steal data for google's slurpservers. It's sold as a solution to spamming, but there's much simpler quicker and far far easier ways to do it that don't involve massive security/privacy risks for the users.

              Almost wishing I was in Europe as I'd be firing off whatever stuff you do under GDPR for any and every site that insists on using 3rd party scripts.

              Just waiting for the changes to NZ's privacy law to finish, then will have some fun being a right bastard to many. Have already started doing it with sites I am dealing with on a regular basis (well, giving them a headsup something like that might be coming anyway)

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                I was answering the "why do so many places use recaptcha?" question, not "what it captcha?", so my answer was correct as far as it goes.

                In much the same way that spammers can use a spider to search for email addresses in text and send a spam to them; so can they spider for vulnerable web forms. People who have websites have at least some money and they're probably interested in my anti-baldness miracle food viagra pill, right?

                So website owners put captcha on as a defence against has nothing to do with user security and everything to do with stopping the owner of the website getting bombarded with spam. There are other solutions, but the captcha scripts are particularly easy to implement. So that's why.

                I never use google's captcha myself and resent having to do free work for google in order to access my stuff. I have seriously thought about invoicing them for it; especially for the fuckers that reload 5 times so you're there for 10 minutes picking out fucking traffic lights.

        5. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. jake Silver badge

        "I ain't about to email you from my work address"

        But you'll happily post from the same IP address? The mind boggles.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. Peter2 Silver badge

            Re: "I ain't about to email you from my work address"

            I'm pretty sure that someone with such a detailed knowledge of the workings and namings of government departments would be an onion fan

            Is that the same sort of Tor branded Onion that it's reasonably well known that the government owns a goodly number of the endpoints for? The same Tor that this site has reported the government suing admins of tor nodes to shut them down, presumably to push more of the traffic to nodes they control? The Tor that governments keep arresting the (law breaking) users of which is reported on here at least monthly?

            That Tor?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "I ain't about to email you from my work address"

              "That Tor?"

              No, I think it's the other one.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "I ain't about to email you from my work address"

          If you happened to work in a UK Gov dept, its not the privacy aspect, it is the fact that all email communications are recorded and FOI'able, so posting to a web forum from a browser is one thing, but emailing is completely different.

          Even a quick email to a family member to say you're stuck at work and running late allegedly isn't advised by the IT policy.

          Also, if working in said dept, I've heard it is nigh on impossible to access any other email accounts other than your work one from your issued devices, and incredibly difficult and a contravention of the IT policy (disciplinary offence) to install any workarounds in order to do so.

      4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "I would love to use it, but I ain't about to email you from my work address"

        Just as well. I did that, not using the registered email address, and later received a LinkedIn invite on the address I used from a, by then, former Register editor. AFAICS this was the only way in which the former editor could have obtained that particular address.

        As LinkedIn had now got that address, and we know what grief that can cause, I had no option but to kill it (the address, unfortunately, there being no way to kill LinkedIn) and set up a new one in its place. An email about this to the present editor has never been answered.

        So now I will not use the tips and corrections link.

        1. jake Silver badge

          But you used an email address to register with ElReg.

          If you hadn't, you wouldn't be able to comment.

          Use that email address.

          (Shirley you know how to set your email address to whatever, regardless of where you are really sending it from, right? Honestly, I don't get the recalcitrance to using email for a situation that email is eminently suited for. Makes no sense. Unless all y'all are just being bitchy for the sake of being bitchy, of course.)

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: But you used an email address to register with ElReg.

            Indeed I did but it isn't the first email address that comes up on my email client - it's an old hotmail address. The address that LinkedIn got was in my own domain so easy to kill completely - I doubt you could ever kill a hotmail address - but inconvenient.

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          and we know what grief that can cause

          You mean all the spam and blatant extortion attemps that arrive as the result of LinkedIn being brached a number of times?

          Fortunately, because I run my own mail server and firewall, I can use -variants of my base email address and customise them to individual services. Then, if I get spam to a particular variant addess I can blacklist that variant of the firewall and never see any traffic using that variant again.

          And since I've yet so see a useful email from LinkedIn, dropping the linkedin variant into the blacklist lost nothing of value.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            That's what I do. It's a bit of a pain when it's an address a good few people have.

        3. quxinot

          >no option but to kill it (the address, unfortunately, there being no way to kill LinkedIn)

          TRY HARDER.

          Or get more options. That was almost leading to a very happy place until you went all defeatist on us.

      5. Jan 0 Silver badge

        So, just send a private email to "", using the title as the Subject field.

        (Works for me.)

        1. Huw D

          Wasn't that the personal email for the Moderatrix? ;)

          1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

            Is that why she left?

  4. IDoNotThinkSo

    I have a firstname.lastname gmail account.

    I've been invited to meetings in Australia, to submit court documents in Florida, asked to comment on sewage treatment works in Warrington and subjected to a variety of other registration spam. I could also have taken over a EA gaming account.

    Still, at least it confuses Google a bit.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      I get quite a lot of fan mail on my GMail. For a very famous American singer.

      1. Efer Brick

        Your Kyleee account?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Handle Gmail handles with care

      Yep. I've had transactions from all over the world (not mine!) come through to my 6-letter-prefix Gmail account. My favourites are the Dallas resident who checks their Merc in for servicing regularly with my address, and the mercifully one-off set of messages to do with a recently-deceased's funeral service arrangements (in Arizona) and settling of estate, although that was a large set of messages. I've had postal redirection confirmations, parcel delivery arrangements, doctors appointments, grocery shopping receipts, vehicle rental, flight booking & itinerary confirmations (including account set up so I had been sent all the info necessary for an account takeover, even residential address), requests for references, neighbourhood watch correspondence and many, many more. These have all appeared to be genuine rather than the usual barrage of normal spam.

      Normally I let it slide, hit delete, and allow people to discover their own mistakes, but on occasions when it appears to really matter a sternly worded email referencing violations of privacy legislation, data protection, and threats to take it to head office seem to do the trick. Apart from Dallas (Tx) Mercedes, bless 'em.

      UK resident, never been to USA. Anon for obvious reasons.

      1. PapaD

        Re: Handle Gmail handles with care

        I have the exact same problem, except almost everything i receive in error is from the USA - I am on some form of Parents email list for a school, some sort of alumni mailing list for a US university - i've been signed up to receive potential real estate options for when I move to the relevant area (i managed to get this one stopped). I've been told of by a religious leaded because my child had the temerity to go and represent her school at some national sporting even, rather than turn up for yet another sunday school something or other - I almost responded to this one as the preacher had the gall to complain that my child (not my child) was setting a very bad example to the other children by not sticking to their commitments, despite the child in question sticking to the commitment they made to their school and school team by playing for them in a national final.

        Sometimes i respond to get it shut off - sometimes i just delete them. I've been in touch with people directly to have them inform whoever they are emailing that they have used the wrong email address.

        Sometimes its funny, sometimes not. Whoever isn't getting their emails is often missing out on really important information (when to pick up their car, what their children are supposed to be doing, etc etc)

        1. Tom Wood

          Re: Handle Gmail handles with care

          I get all the same sort of stuff too. I have a very old, 6 letter gmail address. The ones that irk me most are from the likes of Instagram and other websites that really should know better about email verification.

        2. Olivier2553

          Re: Handle Gmail handles with care

          Whoever isn't getting their emails is often missing out on really important information

          Information must not be that important if people were not able to give their email right to start with.

    3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      firstname.lastname gmail account

      Likewise. But since my surname really, really isn't common I've never had anyone elses' emails.

      Am I missing out?

      1. Teiwaz

        firstname.lastname gmail

        Same here, not a common name.

        I did get one from a Canadian* kindergarton asking if I could sub one saturday morning.

        * I had to track it down from the name of the school.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I have an initial.surname email account with what used to be my ISP. I do get emails relating to one stupid cow in particular who obviously cannot be bothered to type her correct email address for the shops she uses.

      I once got an email asking for a job reference for someone she knew. I replied to the employer with a "not me, guv"; I hope it brought that person a rejection.

      Sometimes I get emails about credit purchases and arrangements. These I seriously try to correct as it could tarnish my own credit rating.

      1. Cuddles

        "I have an initial.surname email account with what used to be my ISP. I do get emails relating to one stupid cow in particular who obviously cannot be bothered to type her correct email address for the shops she uses."

        To be fair, the hooves make it really hard to type accurately.

    5. baud

      And that's not getting into how gmail apparently ignore the dot in email adress, making firstname.lastname the same as firstnamelastname, as far as gmail is concerned.

      1. SW10

        I have the address *without* the ‘.’ and they have the one *with* it.

        I turned down the invitation to a family event saying they must have got the wrong guy and kicked off some kind of massive family feud whereby I (the other person) was accused of just wanting to pas off certain people

    6. TheProf

      My Name!

      I DID take over an EA gaming account.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      When the internet was just coming into use in the mid-80s I had an account with which I used with OS/2 (the on-ramp to the internet!) ... initially had to register with a ~8 letter username but after a bit they announced that users could also register a "Nickname" of any length that could be used as email address - I managed to get which was my initials + my username at work and I thought it was a goof email address .... until I discovered that loads of french secretaries who had not encountered email before when faced with a box marked "address" were typing in a postal address so I got several emails address to ",,"!

      1. Allan George Dyer
        Big Brother

        My personal best wrongly received emails incident dates from 1984, when I discovered that, as a biosciences student of University College London, I was organising an artificial intelligence conference at the University of Los Angeles.

        This might explain the current state of AI.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      same here

      I too have a first.surname gmail account. I think that at some time, Gmail allowed gmail addresses to be unique with the dot. At least in teh account creation screen. Thus, John.smith@ and JohnSmith were registered.

      I have recieved a student in teh states for years. I tried to send him his crap back - but he got nancie - and demanded I surrendered my email address to him! When I told him to get a life- he has for years since registered my email addy with every signup he could find.

      It did get him suspended from uni when the report came in that he had been caught bunking off for a college basket ball match - instead of attending an exam. I passed this to him - after I spotted it - though this was after his appeal date.

      Nowadays, it cant be done. I created my email addy in the days of the Gmail pilot - so the link below has some clarity on it.

  5. Graham Dawson Silver badge

    I've started, recently, getting emails for someone called Dennisha Dawson, who is apparently my daughter and having swimming lessons. It's a bit silly.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Just wait, she'll be stuck in the pool one night and you'll have to express her some money over Western Union to get her out! :-D

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I know this issue all too well. It's worse due to the fact that and the legacy both get sent to the same mailbox, as well as ignoring any punctuation in the address. So firstname.lastname, and firstnamelastname also just get sent to the same mailbox.

    There's some guy in Liverpool keeps using my address for Uber Eats, and Doctors appointments. Someone malicious might cancel said appointments, or take advantage of the fact that password resets for Uber send a text message to their registered phone number... at early hours of the morning. Repeatedly. :innocentsmiley:

    1. MiguelC Silver badge


      When I created my gmail account, the firstname.lastname account was already taken so I added my middle name initials

      And as it was different from my accounts on other mail providers I kept forgetting to put those initials when login onto gmail.

      Poor firstname.lastname kept getting is account locked until I managed to get the hang of it.... sorry firstname.lastname....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: firstname.lastname

        I kept forgetting to put those initials when login onto gmail.

        IT'S YOU YOU B*STARD!!!

      2. Olivier2553

        Re: firstname.lastname

        That and some client lack the ability to remove one address that was once typed incorrectly and will time and again offer the same autocompletion with the wrong address at the top.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    we are unable to assist with your request

    amazing, how the "unable" changed into "able", when the message filtered through the "propa" channels. That said, don't blame the hapless, underpaid bod (possibly a bot) at the other end of the e-mail line, they're only following orders / scripts because, if you pay peanuts, you get bots.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: we are unable to assist with your request

      Getting a bot would be an improvement to the monkey receiving those peanuts.

      1. Stoneshop

        Getting a bot would be an improvement to the monkey receiving those peanuts.

        "Alweer bot gevangen."

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Had similar when my name and address were used for instant credit store cards - trying to get through the phone security to report the fraud when the rest of the details are made up was incredibly frustrating - and also says a lot for the quality of their credit checking process. Of three cards that came over a week or so, one was issued *after* I had reported the fraud to that issuer...

  9. jonha

    Where's the EU when you need them?

    Same story here, early GMail adopter, common name. Getting tax documents, car insurance docs, mobile contracts, bills for air condition equipment, etc etc etc for other blokes with my not so uncommon real-life name.

    Apart from the mental state of these individuals what is driving me mad is exactly the sort of behaviour on the senders' side the article describes.

    Take O2, a so-called tech company. Getting an email that I have opened an account with them and given them this email addy. Would I please acknowledge the email address is correct? Of course I don't and think that's it.

    Nope, for from it. I now get a stream of detailed messages about my new mobile tariff, the mobile no and what have you. I have, more than once, contacted them... getting exactly nowhere. They don't care though they take security and all the rest VERY VERY seriously,

    There should be a way (similar to other privacy EU initiatives) to force governments, companies, institutions, etc to really, REALLY VERIFY that all email addresses given are valid and connected to the intended recipient. This should be enforced by a nice and tidy little sum to be paid by said governments, companies, institutions etc as a penalty to the hapless victim if they don't get it right.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Where's the EU when you need them?

      Put the ICO in CC, then next time you write to them that they are sending PII to the wrong address, maybe a rocket up the rear will get them in gear.

    2. Empty1

      Re: Where's the EU when you need them?

      +1 for being trapped with O2 email and no way out

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Where's the EU when you need them?

      "This should be enforced by a nice and tidy little sum to be paid by said governments, companies, institutions etc as a penalty to the hapless victim if they don't get it right."

      I've sorted snail mail to a former tenant at my address by ringing the sender (after numerous returned mail with a note he no longer lived here) and telling them in future I would bill them a £10 handling charge and enforce it through the small claims court if unpaid. That stopped it.

      1. quxinot

        Re: Where's the EU when you need them?

        >I've sorted snail mail to a former tenant at my address by ringing the sender (after numerous returned mail with a note he no longer lived here) and telling them in future I would bill them a £10 handling charge and enforce it through the small claims court if unpaid. That stopped it.

        The annoying people that think that the prior-prior-owners still use this address finally quit after I saved up a big pile of their biweekly pre-addressed, pre-paid envelopes and stuck them to the largest cardboard letters that I could send through the mail (asked the postman, who laughed and helped give me maximum dimensions). Needless to say, a less than polite phrase was returned to them one day in a pile of jumbled letters, along with a punctuation mark.

        Then, and only then, did the letters cease coming here. It was a lot of fun, collecting the envelopes and planning that over the course of a few months. :)

    4. jelabarre59

      Re: Where's the EU when you need them?

      There should be a way (similar to other privacy EU initiatives) to force governments, companies, institutions, etc to really, REALLY VERIFY that all email addresses given are valid and connected to the intended recipient. This should be enforced by a nice and tidy little sum to be paid by said governments, companies, institutions etc as a penalty to the hapless victim if they don't get it right.

      Well *THAT'S* no good. Because when *insists* I provide them with an email address and I have no reason to give them one, I wouldn't be able to provide the email address of

  10. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    Me too

    I've got a lastname.firstname Gmail Addy, which I've had for many years.

    For a while I've been getting emails to, for several American airline bookings and a swanky NewYork rooftop restaurant booking, amongst others.

    I did a bit of digging against some of the personal details I got and eventually discovered it was a guy with a addy ("Jon", not "John" - no "h").

    I forwarded his airline booking on to him and got a grateful response. It seems he'd given his email address verbally in each case, saying "Jon" but it had been written down with the "h" as John

    From other info I trawled up, I know him and his SO were expecting a baby last August. Hope it arrived OK.

    1. Huw D

      Re: Me too

      "From other info I trawled up, I know him and his SO were expecting a baby last August. Hope it arrived OK."

      Well, if it was arriving by plane you'd have the email, right?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I suffer from mistaken email identity all the time - pretty much every week.

    I signed up for an Apple email address on the day the iTools service was released back in January 2000. Because I was early I managed to get the short-form of my firstname (for example <> - it's not that though).

    As the iTools service morphed into .Mac, then MobileMe and now iCloud, I have also gained the same username and

    Now it seems, everybody who shares the same first name as me, thinks one of these email addresses is theirs. So I get online shopping confirmations, flight and hotel bookings, Netflix signups, PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live subscriptions, medical appointments, mortgage approvals and everything else you can think of.

    In the past, I've often been able to contact the organisation, explain and have my email address removed. But since GDPR they often want me to confirm some account details I don't have just to contact their support or customer services.

    So, in such cases, my only option is to request a password reset, login, and either close the account, or change the email address to something else.

    I think every email sign-up should require people to confirm their email address before allowing them to proceed, and the confirmation email that is sent should have an "I didn't signup, remove my email address" option. Currently, hardly any do this.

    1. Hans 1

      I think every email sign-up should require people to confirm their email address before allowing them to proceed, and the confirmation email that is sent should have an "I didn't signup, remove my email address" option. Currently, hardly any do this.

      GDPR, anyone, anyone ?

    2. 2Nick3

      "So, in such cases, my only option is to request a password reset, login, and either close the account, or change the email address to something else."

      Are they able to do that without confirming you are really the person who opened the account? Why not just run the account out of login attempts with a bad password, then the actual owner has to get a reset done without the right email address - if it's important they'll fix it, and they get to jump through all the hoops. That way you are only attempting to access the account, not actually accessing it - which is less likely to end up with you in trouble.

    3. Stoneshop

      I have also gained the same username

      Good thing your first name isn't Roger then.

      Or is it?

  12. joeW

    Similar thing happened to me a few weeks ago - someone in the US registered for a Postmates account (as a delivery driver or something? I dunno) with my [firstname][lastname] email address. Quite how this was achieved without some sort of "Follow this link to confirm address you've given us" email, I am not sure.

    Took more than one attempt to get Postmates to understand the situation. Their first reply was along the lines of "Sure, we'll just need your Social Security number to verify that you are the account holder, and we'll deactivate it for you".

  13. jake Silver badge

    This kind of thing probably happens all the time.

    I get SMS "emergency" messages from Dominican University of California. I have never been enrolled at, have never worked for, never visited, nor in any other way been affiliated with Dominican. I'm not even certain where their campus is, other than somewhere in San Rafael, California.

    I've tried to convince them to stop sending the messages to me, but they say that because I can't prove I'm the person that requested them, I can't turn them off. (WTF? It's my telephone getting them ...) When I asked them to provide me with the contact details of the person who listed me as the recipient, they can't because "privacy". So I asked THEM to contact that person, to tell them that they made a mistake in the recipient details. They say don't have a procedure for that. Etc.

    I wrote the above back in January, in response to Gary's first tale of woe ... Update it now for the recent PG&E "emergency" power cuts and the fires we've been having here in California. Over the space of a week I received close to two dozen "emergency" text messages intended for some poor soul who is obviously doing without. I had reason to go to San Rafael, so I stopped by the Dominican campus to clear things up. They threatened to have me arrested for intercepting their communications! I pointed out that they were sending them to me, I wasn't intercepting them ... which seemed to confuse the flunkies. After about an hour, they decided that the person I needed to speak with wasn't in that day, and would I mind leaving my number?

    In theory I will be receiving a call from somebody who can fix it this week. I'm not holding my breath.

    Insert something about "mod cons" here ...

  14. hammarbtyp

    I, Tonya

    I used to keep getting regular status reports for a GMC Yukon. It would tell me interesting reports like tyre pressures, diagnostic reports, mileage etc. It even listed its VIN number etc

    Only one problem, I have never owned a GMC Yukon and since it was registered in Michigan, and i live in the UK, it is unlikely to be mine. I traced it down to a difference of one letter. I'm Tony and the car is owned by a Tonya.

    Being a good citizen I set about trying to fix it. However I found it impossible to contact the diagnostic firm. They had no customer contact email. In the end I did it via twitter messenger. I told them the problem, but they seemed to struggle with the concept. They eventually agreed to fix it.

    1 month later I got another diagnostic report. At that point I said what the hell. I just hope Tonya doesn't get a big issue with her car

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I, Tonya

      Being a horrible person, I would simply send out slightly altered copies of said emails about the Yukon to the suspected correct address.


      And the like.

    2. Snowy Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: I, Tonya

      You could try sending Tonya an Email just change Tony into Tonya where it is in the email address and inform her of the error?

      1. hammarbtyp

        Re: I, Tonya

        my email is 1st initial + Surname so i have no idea what Tonya email address is. I've sort of looked but to no avail

    3. GrapeBunch

      Re: I, Tonya

      "Being a horrible person" I just report all the messages I really don't want to deal with as "Spam". When I can't hear the bagpipes from Sky Pilot.

  15. Andy Non Silver badge

    Capital One

    At a previous address, I received a credit card addressed to someone who had never lived there. I phoned Capital One to tell them of the error but they refused to speak to me as I wasn't the card holder. A few days later I received another letter from them with the pin number and a while later a letter containing a bank statement of the intended card holder at a similar but different address to me, presumably sent to Capital One originally as proof of address etc. It seems that Capital One in their wisdom had "corrected" the person's postcode and street name to be my address; some 20 miles away.

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: Capital One

      I bought a motorbike a few years ago and the seller put my correct postcode but incorrect street name. The DVLA helpfully corrected the postcode to match the street, which existed on the other side of London, and the next I knew of it was two bailiffs at my door to collect payment (£70 plus £430 charges) - which I had to pay to get the clamp removed.

      Frantic FOIs to the council and DVLA traced the problem and I got it refunded, so all ended well. And now I double check the V5 before I post it off.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Capital One

      Is it legal to open someone else's post? It may be your address, but it's not your name on in. Maybe a legal grey area?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Martin

        Re: Capital One

        Nice thing is with post, you can "absent-mindedly" open someone else's letter in among your own. It's perfectly understandably and no-one could easily accuse you of malice.

        But if you're getting someone else's email, you can't legally "absent-mindedly" log into their account, do a password reset and cause mayhem.

        I still get emails from Amazon (US) which are for someone else's account. I assume he only uses his phone number to log in.

      3. Andy Non Silver badge

        Re: Capital One

        Normally if I get any mail addressed to previous occupiers, I mark it "Return to sender. Moved" and put it back in the post box. However, something unusual addressed to a total stranger that obviously had a credit/bank card inside the envelope (you can tell from the feel) rings alarm bells that maybe there is some sort of fraud afoot; and I'd sooner get it sorted ASAP. When it became clear what had happened I returned the envelopes with the card and PIN to Capital One and mailed the bank statement directly back to the hapless person with a note inside telling them what had happened and a none too complimentary comment about Capital One.

      4. TwistedPsycho

        Re: Capital One

        If the post is addressed to your address then I am sure that under the Postal Sevices Act you would not be liable if you opened it in order not to detriment the intended recipient.

        So if you opened a handwritten addressed envelope with no return address to contact the company on the letterhead you are not acting in detriment of the two parties.

        Saying that, when Barclays started sending demands for cash from the person who sold us our house, when we read them the account number over the phone we were accused of illegal tampering of mail.

        Except I was reading it through the Window of the envelope in clear view for all to see.

      5. Rtbcomp

        Re: Capital One

        IIRC in the UK once it's been delivered you can open it because it's no longer in the postal system. Some council somewhere wanted to read a suspected criminal's mail and the only way they could do it was by getting the police to break into the house after the letter had been delivered and picking it up off the doormat!

    3. Electronics'R'Us

      Re: Capital One

      Many years ago (late 80s or perhaps early 90s) when I was living in the USA, a credit card snail mail was delivered to my address despite it not having my address on the front.

      Marked it as 'Delivered to wrong address' and put it back in the post box; the idiot of a postal service worker 'helpfully' had the credit card company change the address to my address.

      I ended up having to threaten both the US postal service and the credit card company with legal action (things got to the point of threatening to turn up at my door for payment even though I was not the holder of the credit card in question).

      So this form of idiocy is indeed quite timeless (and goes to show that we could make idiots then just as easily as we do now).

  16. iron Silver badge

    Quite Common

    A friend of mine in Canada receives a lot of email for a moron of the same name in England who thinks he has the same gmail address. This moron appears to be quite wealthy since the emails are often recepits for sports car repair, yacht club activities, swanky hotels and once very expensive houses. He has tried informing all of these companies that he is not their customer but none of them care and the person who is using his email address doesn't seem to care that he never gets his email receipts. The latest is an appointment at the Citizen's Advice Bureau later this week to get help filling out forms - perhaps he's fallen on hard times and needs to claim benefits now?

    I wonder if reporting them all to the ICO would help.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Quite Common

      Won the lottery and now skint again?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Quite Common

      Sounds like that might be my boss!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Quite Common

      I remember many years ago there was a very angry website run by the person who had registered "" for a aviation related site detailing the discussions he'd had with Telewest over their decision to brand their broadband as (basically TW had told him "people are going to get confused and think you are their ISP so you better change you domain name to avoid getting swamped with complaints"

  17. John Styles


    The only time I have ever lost my temper with someone on the phone was with Vodafone - when the contract department refused to talk to me as I have a PAYG account when I contacted them about some scammer ordering a contract phone to my address (presumably hoping to intercept the delivery somehow).



  18. daftdave

    James Veitch gets emails like this too

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dartford Crossing

    Nothng surprises me about the incompetence of those idiots, although to be fair, the accounts people are based in Leeds, 250 miles away from the crosssing. No normal private company could run with the incompetence they demonstrate, but since they have a near endless supply of near captive customers, they get away with it.

    There's even a nice song on youtube about them.

    I feel its the bane of my life, and I live 100 + miles away. I feel sorry for those who have to suffer it everyday of their lives.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dartford Crossing

      It's alright, it is being re-tendered shortly, so the existing incompetents will all be TUPEd across to deliver the same standard of work under a different name, and it will all be wonderful.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dartford Crossing

      i'll trump the Dartford crossing with the total sh1t storm that is the Tamar bridge and ferry company! A joint effort between Cornwall Council and Plymouth City Council so what could possibly go wrong, to which the answer is the torpoint ferries which are FOR EVER going wrong. So now the toll is rising as they haven't got any money, well that'll because you've spent £5M of council tax payers money on glass fronted offices at the bridge!

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Dartford Crossing

        Tamar bridge

        My wifes' dad (who died in 1977 so I never knew him) was the British Rail structural engineer[1] responsible for all the bridges, viaducts and stations[1] from Exeter to the Penzance. One of his responsibilities was the Tamar rail bridge which needed repainting every year or so. He used to do random inspections in the works while painting was being done (to ensure that the workmen were not just painting over the rust but were actually cleaning off the rust *before* painting) and sometimes took my wife with him (she was 10-12 at the time). She distinctly remembers walking through the tubes on the top of the railway bridge..

        So that bridge is forever known in our house as "Dads' bridge".

        Me - you'd need to knock me out and carry me up there. I'm really, really not a fan of heights. Although I don't mind flying (and the couple of flights in a light aircraft where I've had a go at flying were great fun).

        [1] He was, originally, a stonemason by trade. He orginally worked in his fathers' granite quarry in Cornwall then ended up working for the railways/

        [2] Our[3] bed is made out of reclaimed timbers from Dawlish station - they were replacing one of the platforms and he managed to scavenge the usable parts (light oak) and had a carpenter freind of his make it. It's held together by cast-iron angle-brackets and 1" coachbolts. He thoroughly believed in overengineering.. The bed is really, really heavy - 4" solid oak beams are *not* light.

        [3] Well - originally made for my wifes' half-sister (who is 18 years older than her). Her marriage fell apart just before we got married so she was quite happy for us to have the bed. Fortunately, you can take it apart (although the hand-cut oak struts that go from the side beams to the centre beam are all numbered because they only really fit on one place. Unfortunately, each side has numbering starting from 1 so we had to add L or R to denote which side it went)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Dartford Crossing

          that'll be the Royal Albert Bridge opened something like 1860 designed and built by Brunel I think he died before it was completed. The train infrastructure between London and Cornwall was better then than it is now! HS2 feck me we have Victorian infrastructure down here!

          1. Korev Silver badge

            Re: Dartford Crossing

            It's a very cool bridge, but is a massive bottleneck for trains (single track, low speed limit). Maybe it's time to build an alternative railway crossing and keep the Royal Albert Bridge for pedestrians etc.

          2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

            Re: Dartford Crossing

            Unfortunately he died before a lot of things were completed.

        2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

          Re: Dartford Crossing

          I am so envious right now of this post.

    3. Dr Paul Taylor

      Re: Dartford Crossing

      (This seems to be the only comment that is pertinent to the article.)

      My previous "tenant" (actually a local businessman who sub-let my house to his labourers) registered his vehicle at my house and drove through the Dartford Tunnel without paying. When I took the house back, I told Dart Charge exactly where to find him. They persisted in sending threatening letters, with exponentially increasing amounts owing until eventually bailiffs turned up, after new tenants had moved it. When I complained, they demanded proof that he wasn't there any more.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dartford Crossing

        Sounds like harassment...

    4. nick of herts

      Re: Dartford Crossing

      At one time I was using the Dartford Crossing several times per month, so registered with the auto payments system. On the whole this worked well, except for one return crossing. The ANPR picked up the correct number plate because they managed to send a penalty notice for non payment. This was cancelled however despite requests no explanation was ever provided as to why the system managed to not match the number with the list of those on automatic payment.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dartford Crossing

      I seem to recall reading of problems with peope, driving hire cars over the bridge as they always appl payments to the oldest outstanding bill for the car so people were paying for their crossing but finding that as their payment had been applied to the previous hirer, who hadn't paid, they were then getting assessed for a penalty .... and also, it was reported they never bothered to chase up the 25-50% of non-UK registered vehicles crossing that didn't bother paying.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    PC World

    I've had the same with a certain high street computer store. Trying to tell them to stop using my contact address for someone else. But that just hit with a brick wall of "must supply proof of ID with driving licence". Which, or course is impossible as no ID would match the details they had on account. Dozens of emails back and forth and they just could not get their head around the issue.

    The worrying thing about all of these cases is it shows that staff are now being employed to specifically NOT engage brain and use common sense. Not allowed to think. Must just follow the script no matter how daft the script is.

    It is a bit like those early SatNav drivers who would happily drive into a lake because the computer told them to.

    1. Huw D

      And a twist on that...

      Last night a DHL pickup point refused to give me my package even though I had the card, the right name, and photographic ID (their email lists driving licence, passport, military ID card and others), because my photo ID was not a driving licence.

      "Look mate, I don't drive. I don't have a driving licence. Here is a passport, which is perfectly valid according to the DHL email"

      "Computer says I must see your driving licence!"

      "No, it says 'Photo ID, e.g. driving licence'"

      "e.g. means exactly"

      "No it doesn't..."

      30 minutes waiting for the manager

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: And a twist on that...

        If you've paid for the package it's your property. "If you don't give my my property that'll be stealing. Do you want me to call the police?"

        30 minutes waiting for the manager

        Invoice for your time. Minimum one hour or part thereof.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: And a twist on that...

        I had a TSB bank account which then turned into a Lloyds bank account ... I only every ahd it because when I took out a TSB mortgage in the 90s they were allowed to require you to make the payment from a TSB account (and they tried to persuade me that I should switch to this as my main account) ... so as a result for ~20 years the account had 2 transacxtions each month - a standing order from my main account paying money in and then a debit from the account to take the mortgage payment. As a result, when they originally sent me a direct debit card I pointedly handed them bac saying I didn;t want them. FOrward ~20 years and with mortgage paid off I decided to close the account ... as there was ~£100 left in it the person at the bank tried to transfer it back to me ... but computer said "need bank card to authorise transfer" - eventually the bank person decided on a plan where they closed the account and then we went to the counter where she asked the cashier to check the branches "unidentified money balance" which now held the ~£100 which they then gave me in cash!

    2. Anonymouse-Cowherd

      Re: the Evil Empire

      Carphone Warehouse in my case (another tentacle of the Evil Empire).

      Sent an email bill for a mobile phone I hadn't bought from a branch of theirs I had never visited.

      Tried to tell them to redirect the bill to their real customer and...

      All manner of rudeness, lying and idiocy from the "Help Desk" ensued.

      I was told to visit a branch and take two forms of photo i.d. so they could set up an account "because GDPR". Once I had an account with them they would be able to talk to me about how I didn't have an account with them.

      I amused myself for the next month by phoning them (hands free) every morning for a month and winding them up.

  21. BenDwire Silver badge

    Snail Mail Too

    Ever since I moved into my house 6 years ago, I've received the monthly Talk Talk bill for one of the previous occupants who moved out 15 years ago. For the first year I wrote "return to sender - no longer at this address" on the envelope in the vain hope that someone would at least think to contact the said customer, but no. To this day I dump them straight into the recycling unopened.

    As as for the email woes described above, I simply set up filters to move them to the junk folder and mark them as read. And random SMS senders get given a silent notification tone, so at least they don't disturb me. In fact, the banks get the same treatment as they insist on messaging me my balance alerts in the middle of the night (i.e. before 9am)

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Snail Mail Too

      "In fact, the banks get the same treatment as they insist on messaging me my balance alerts in the middle of the night"

      I'd change bank.

  22. Peter Christy

    I can sympathise....

    Back when I got my first ISP to join t'internet, I was running OS/2 (yes, really! Even then, I was spectacularly unimpressed by Micro$oft products.). As part of the Warp 3 promotion, IBM offered to be your ISP for a very reasonable amount, along with an email address. Thinking this was pretty cool - and there only being a few users back then - I ended up with as my email address (long defunct, so spammers, don't bother!)

    For a year or two, all was well, but then I started getting regular, large newsletters from some Republican senator, telling me what a great job he was doing for his local community and state. This was all very well, but I've lived in England all my life, and while I have travelled the world a bit, I've never been to America! He was certainly wasting his time (and my bandwidth) trying to elicit my vote!

    Repeated polite requests to have my name removed from the mailing list fell on deaf ears, until eventually I snapped. I sent a rather curt and very impolite email.

    I was never bothered by him again, but I do wonder if my name is now on a blacklist somewhere, and what would happen if I ever DID try to visit the USA....!

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: I can sympathise....

      IBM offered to be your ISP for a very reasonable amount, along with an email address

      At the point I was using OS/2 on the desktop I had a Demon Internet address. I also had a linux box doing dial-on-demand (I picked Demon because they had some good FAQs at that point about how to configure such things - and SMTP/NNTP).

      Since we were IBM-all-the-way at work, I dicovered that we were also connected to the IBM network and all had an IBMMAIL address which we could use to get internet email to and from our local PROFS system.

      I think I used it a couple of times, realised what a faff it was and, instead, pushed for a proper SMTP connection via Pipex. Which, eventually, we got. It helped that very few other people realised about the IBMMAIL stuff. Yet another example why I was destined to not be a programmer for long - I was far more interested in exploring the nooks and crannies than coding..

      1. Stoneshop

        Re: I can sympathise....

        Since we were IBM-all-the-way at work, I dicovered that we were also connected to the IBM network and all had an IBMMAIL address which we could use to get internet email to and from our local PROFS system.

        Early '90's I was working at DEC, at department that used to be Philips, and a friend was doing postgrad work at IBM in Heidelberg. From reading a NOTES file I found out I could send mail to the outside Internet, and some more digging revealed the incantations to send mail from there to an IBMMAIL address. So after three or four tries I managed the right combination of quoting, gateway arcana and munging the address to get mail to him. And of course him hitting 'reply' did not work without further changes to the mail path.

        As the crowcarrier pigeon flies it was 600km; mail went halfway around the world via Palo Alto and either Toronto or some other IBM site on the US East coast.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Believe it or not, I have a smilar problem

    But in my case, it is with someone with the same name as me who lives in East Africa.

    I'm posting this anonymously, because you can work out my gmail account from my handle here. It's an unusual name you would think, but so far, I've had mail meant for this namesake from hospitals, from the British Consulate in Dar es Salaam (inviting me/him to a reception with the ambassador, no less), three different hotel chains, at least one school, Barclays International Bank, goodness knows how many people wanting to introduce themselves, and. to cap it all, my namesake's daughter.

    I actually had a bit of a pleasant exchange with said daughter while trying to let her know that she was using the wrong email address, but even though I thought I had got the message through, I'm still getting mails from her.

    When it started happening, I spent some time attempting to get all of these people to correct their records, but having failed, I now tag them and delete them from my inbox in gmail (can't remember exactly the filter I use, but it's pretty specific). I currently have in excess of 2000 mails, gathered over about 8 years.

    My namesake actually has an account with ymail, but people obviously either misread or mistype ymail as gmail, and thus I get his mail.

    I've given up trying to fix it. It's a good job Google give significant amounts of space, but I wonder what on earth their profiling algorithms make of me apparently living both in the UK and Tanzania.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Believe it or not, I have a smilar problem

      "It's a good job Google give significant amounts of space, but I wonder what on earth their profiling algorithms make of me apparently living both in the UK and Tanzania."

      A wealthy jetsetter with an enormous airmiles account?

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Believe it or not, I have a smilar problem

      thought I had got the message through, I'm still getting mails from her

      Part of the problem may be the autocomplete address function in Outlook (and maybe Microsoft Mail too - but I've never used that) - once they've sent an email to an address, they'll autocomplete to that address in the future even if it's the wrong address..

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Believe it or not, I have a smilar problem

      "I wonder what on earth their profiling algorithms make of me"

      So it's not all bad.

    4. Olivier2553

      Re: Believe it or not, I have a smilar problem

      I wonder what on earth their profiling algorithms make of me apparently living both in the UK and Tanzania.

      Send you twice as much spam? Lucky you.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One reason why I bought my own domain ...

    I have a hotmail account <myname> from 1996. It used to be a nice subtle indication that I was there when it was still fields.

    But quite aside from the dangers of name collision*, I have to trust Microsoft to manage my email ? Fuck that. The final straw was the perplexing inability to get the calendar working with any decent Linux desktop. But at least I own the whole lot.

    *Despite having an unusual name, there are still a few exact matches in the world. As a co-worker discovered trying to Google me, and telling colleagues about a conviction I had. Only I hadn't - that was a US version of me. Cost them their job, sadly.

    1. Rustbucket

      Re: One reason why I bought my own domain ...

      *Despite having an unusual name, there are still a few exact matches in the world. As a co-worker discovered trying to Google me, and telling colleagues about a conviction I had. Only I hadn't - that was a US version of me. Cost them their job, sadly.


  25. chivo243 Silver badge

    save your sanity

    anytime you get email intended for someone else, just delete it. I've had a gmail account since the days of invites... I get tons of messages for other people. I tried to alert the sender a few times, but I keep getting the messages, now I mark them as spam.

  26. MJI Silver badge

    I have one

    Keep getting emailed news letters for Yank places.

    Theme parks, Disnentry rubbish, local politicians.

    There are unsubscribes but no feedbacks.

    Usually get them in batches, now if I knew their address I would sign them up for loads!

  27. Pontius
    Big Brother

    Not one of the boys from Brazil

    Buttle? Tuttle?

  28. Big_Boomer Silver badge


    Unsubscribes only seem to work for UK companies as it has been legislated for. I suspect that most US (and other) companies just add your email address to their "Sell it to spammers" list. I bought some clothes from a US retailer whilst over there using a one-shot email account I'd setup for that purpose, and they proceeded to send me marketing emails every single day. I unsubscribed and it took 2 weeks for their marketing emails to stop. Shortly after that the account started getting all kinds of willy-pill and get-rich-quick spam. No biggie, I just deleted the account, but really shitty business practice and they have lost me as a repeat customer.

    1. Wyrdness

      Re: Unsubscribes

      It's not necessarily the business selling their contact list to spammers. Sometimes it's a rogue employee who has access to the customer database and wants to make a few quick bucks. That happened where I work, when a call-centre employee sold the customer database to scammers, who then phoned customers to offer fake warranties. I think that the employee in question ended up with a conviction over that.

    2. quxinot

      Re: Unsubscribes

      If it's a one-shot account, just make a new mail rule.

      Upon incoming, fwd to all contacts.

      Then just keep adding the contacts as they email you. (Clearly, don't do this on anything with repercussions, e.g., don't crash your own mail server, but still... spam for me? Spam for you!)

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Unsubscribes

        Find a senior manager in the original company. Forward them all to him.

  29. Bronek Kozicki

    My wife has this problem ...

    ... and so do I. There should be laws to force companies to fix "bad email address" promptly.

    1. Stoneshop

      Re: My wife has this problem ...

      ... and so do I.

      Kind of inevitable if you're both named Brian.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sometimes it works out

    I kept being sent some Shell club (snail mail) letters for someone I'd never heard of. This started several years after we moved in to our house, and the name didn't even match the people we bought it off. After sending a few back with 'not known at this address' I got bored and opened one to found they contained reward vouchers as this individual bought quite a bit of fuel. It wasn't much but nice to have, until Shell did a new loyalty scheme. Oh well.

  31. Pen-y-gors


    Wrth amlwg, dydy ysbryd Rebecca ddim yn fyw yn y Dartford Toll.

    Not sure about the modern PC-ness of dressing in blackface and women's clothes to smash toll gates...

    1. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: Tollgates?

      ...not to mention the wisdom of welshing on a debt.

  32. Nick

    Same here

    I too bagged as soon as they became available. I have quite a collection of impossible to remove associations, including:

    - Australian kids' football club who are *very* annoyed that I won't just settle my namesake's debt

    - South African Tag watch repair - who have had my namesake's watch for a couple of years, but won't talk to me unless I can tell them his postal address

    - Several US department stores who want money

    - Several genealogy sites answering questions I didn't ask

    - A very angry lady who wants her passbook back

    I tried quite hard to put these right at first but not anymore.

  33. spold Silver badge

    All that glitters is not Gary

    1. John Presland

      No, Gary does glitter. What you meant is "Not all that glitters is Gary".

  34. A. Coatsworth Silver badge

    More adventures on wrong emails

    It seems Gmail is a real winner on this. As many other commentards, I've received my fair share of interesting correspondence... My email is SurnameInitial at gmail and I guess there are a few persons with variants of surname.initial.

    The most interesting was a couple of years ago when I got an email with the security detail, and the schedule of the bodyguards, for a very big award ceremony in Los Angeles (I think it was the SGA)... one of my email dopplergängers is a private security officer in California.

    I normally ignore these emails, but in this particular case I made an exception and contacted the sender back, just in case, even though I've never been to California, or to the Land of the Free, for that matter.

    Other, less exciting include a person going late on their loan payments in Peru; and a very prolific internet buyer in Argentina, who seems hellbent on subscribing to every store newsletter they can find

  35. Pax681

    you still have turnpikes in England?

    We've not had them for years in Scotland not that there were very many. Just a couple of bridges a think but the Scottish Govt abolished the tolls thankfully.

    1. Charlie van Becelaere

      Re: you still have turnpikes in England?

      More pertinent, at least to Gary, is the fact that they still have turnpikes in New Jersey:

  36. PickledAardvark

    OFCOM rejected my complaint

    Back in the days when UK telecoms mostly comprised BT and odd ball companies, before mobile telephony was a thing, I had a billing dispute with BT. I wrote to them; BT did not reply. And again.

    I pursued this with OFCOM who wrote to me that I needed a letter from BT, the company who declined to write to me, in order for them to follow up. Thanks, OFCOM.

    I wrote to BT telling them that I would stop paying my phone bill until the problem was resolved. One Saturday morning my phone line was cut off. I could still phone BT where I spoke to a pleasant operator who reconnected my phone on a temporary basis and contacted the billing department.

  37. Dapprman

    Couple of times for me as well, though in the past

    One amusing, one not so.

    First the amusing one. My first ISP account from through Demon and I went all HHGTTG with my domain - using one of the character names. My email address was forename followed by first letter of surname at the aforementioned domain. Putting aside the occasional accidental email from Professor Heinz Wolfe of The great Egg Race fame, I suddenly found my email address had been added to a distribution list for a group of swingers. Quite amusing at first until I started receiving photos. When I pointed out they had the wrong person I received a very apologetic response and it all went quiet (I should have asked if I could still join in ....).

    The not so amusing one. One of the UK cable channels started a psychic hotline. Problem was the last two digits of the number were the transpose of my work number. It would sound funny but the calls I received were from recent widows often sounding like they were in their 70s/80s wanting to see if they could get in touch with their recently departed husbands. I would like to point out I was polite and also careful and courteous when explaining they had the wrong number. I quickly contacted the TV show and they apologised and changed the number.

    1. Tom 7

      Re: Couple of times for me as well, though in the past

      Shit psychic if they didnt see that coming.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Couple of times for me as well, though in the past

        Due to unforeseen circumstances next week's meeting has been cancelled.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    brain dead customer services abound

    I had a very similar exchange with Tesco customer services. I have account and some idiot signed up to tesco clubcard using the wrong email address (mine). Tesco kept telling me they wouldn't reveal their customer's details, and I kept repeating I didn't want their customer's details, I just wanted them to stop using my email address. After much to-ing and fro-ing, someone at tescos must have actually activated part of their brain and did the necessary.

    Other times I have had to do "forgot password" and then login to the offender's account and change their email address. I usually set it to "" to match the domain for that service provider.

  39. popetackler

    Not surprising. From dealings with Dart Charge (parent: Emovis), the call centre staff are stuck to using scripted responses and when asked to step outside their comfort zone have no one to speak to, as management is just as clueless.

  40. jasper pepper

    Gary is safe

    At least Gary is safe in the US. I mean the US doesn't take kindly to foreign jurisdictions harassing its citizens. Gary is at liberty to tell DART crossing and everything to do with DART crossing, their appeals process, their debt collectors, their kangaroo court and their bailiffs to go fuck themselves. I envy Gary, you may wonder why. Well one day your plates may be cloned by rogues who use that crossing - then you will understand.

  41. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    Similar, but worse.

    I managed to get back an expired domain I'd lost, and started getting email from about payments received. I went to the site, it had a "reset my password via email" link that I clicked, and subsequently received a password-reset token url.

    I didn't precede further, but contacted them, explaining the situation, and they said they couldn't alter the email address as I wasn't the account holder, and besides, they couldn't remove an address - just replace it with a different one, and as I had no knowledge of their new email address, nothing could be done.

    A few mails back and fore, I finally lost patience and said they should contact their sysadmin, and PR, and legal department for a solution, because if it transpired that they knew someone had unauthorised access to someone elses account, and decided to withdraw the few hundred dollars that were going in, it wouldn't go down well.

    I was assured by reply that the email address had subsequently been disabled. It hadn't. I just ended up bouncing mail sent to that address, but checking the logs now, they still appeared for about 6 months (up until September)

  42. fronty

    Me too

    Happens to me too, I get all the statements for some Birmingham residents' Virgin Broadband account. We don't have Virgin where we live. I did use their online chat facility to talk to someone to try and get my email address removed but it didn't work. I even reset the password and logged into his account, unfortunately there was no cancel option! :-(

  43. Any mouse Cow turd

    It's quite common

    I also have a common name and an account and currently have a Hilton Honours point account and a PayPal account created with my address that I can't access due to 2FA (and I'm assuming the other guy can't either). And I keep getting various other USA car dealerships confirming my car servicing booking, which is nice. Maybe Gary would like to use one of these slots to get an oil change for his car that's never been to the UK ;)

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah the glory of Gmail wrong addresses

    One of my cousins had a firstname.lastname address from Gmail. He started to get all kinds of bumf from Facebook, as someone had signed up for Facebook using his address. He wrote to the user. Nothing changed. He used the contact phone number in Facebook and called the user, who apparently worked for Shell in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Didn’t get the user, left voicemail. Nothing changed. Went onto Facebook, left a message. Nothing changed. Went onto Facebook, changed the password. Problem went away for about a week, then came back, apparently after the user figured out how to change the password back. Went onto Facebook, changed the password again, to something like “you’re a fucking idiot” only stronger, and went through the process to ‘deactivate’ the account. That worked. The user still has not contacted my cousin. Exactly how someone so stupid manages to walk and breathe at the same time is not clear.

  45. Howler

    Typical modern bureaucratic stupidity. I am suprised he didn't get fined and extradited.

    Anyway. Gotta get back to my inbox.

  46. This post has been deleted by its author

  47. Anonymous Crowbar

    I get this crap all the time

    I get emails from a stupid left-pondian for all sorts of crap. I am in Ireland. Hotel bookings, car bookings, flight bookings, school details, his daughters dance company, etc

    For about 3 or so years.

    A lof of the time, these contain personal information, most of which if it was me, I wouldnt like out there.

    I originally tried to be nice, but the fuc*tard kept doing it. Now I respond to bookings with "I assume my card has been scammed as I did not book this", and to his school groups etc with "Tell the f**king numpty this is supposed to be addressed to to stop using my email." Generally with a reply all as they dont seem to know how to use BCC, and also just to show what a muppet he is.

  48. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    After a colleague moved house he kept getting dunning letters for the previous owner. In that case the owner wasn't entirely unknown. He was one of the QCs we'd frequently come across representing defendants.

  49. Gogugogu

    I have the same problem with the guzs at .

    Too lazy to follow up after 3 unsuccessful attempts.

  50. IWVC

    Another Dartford crossing complaint...

    At the beginning of the year I sold (part exchanged) my car and received confirmation from DVLA that I was no longer the registered keeper of the vehicle. A month or so later I started receiving emails from Dartford Crossing about multiple unpaid crossing fees. I had opened an account with them several years earlier as it was the only way to pay for using the crossing. I only used it twice, once in each direction, and then forgot all about it. In the meantime the credit card I had to use had expired but they were still trying to take money from it. I contacted Dartford Crossing and explained I was no longer the owner or user of the car at the time of the crossings they kept billing me for and if they checked with DVLA this would be confirmed. No dice,the vehicle and your credit card is registered on our system therefore you have to pay. I spoke to several people there, one of which was sympathetic due to the circumstances but I had to "appeal" to Highways England (presumably the English bit left from the Highways Agency after the Welsh and Scottish Highways Agencies had been split off) This then started a merry go round as HE said that I'd have to take it up with DC obviously washing their hands of any complaint. and DC saying that I had to take it up with HE. Being very wary of large organisation's ability to bully through the legal process, I decided to pay the outstanding charges, cancel my dormant D account and just get out of it all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another Dartford crossing complaint...

      And this is why I like the SunPass/EZPass/WhateverPass we have in the US. It's usually a small plastic box which attaches to the windshield with little suction cup feet; this means that it can be removed from a vehicle and moved to another one, and that the SunPass/whatever people only care about the car license plate if there's insufficient funds on the SunPass, so I can and have placed it on other vehicles, including once a hulking great U-Haul truck. There are SunPass thingies which are designed to be permanently affixed to the windshield, but only el cheapo people go with them, they're $5 instead of $25... but they also come with only $5 of initial SunPass charges, instead of $25, as the SunPass device itself is free, on the Kodak or Gillette or inkjet printer business model. I use the Turnpike three times a week, about $4 per run, as going from West Palm Beach to Hialeah via the Turnpike is a hour 20 minutes usually while going West Palm to Hialeah via I-95 is two hours at that time. I'm serious, there's a 40 minute difference. I'm willing to pay $4 to not have to face I-95 in Miami-Dade County, especially between October and April, when the Canadian snowbirds infest the place. Apparently no-one in Quebec knows how to drive. It's bad enough normally, with the young Hispanic males who have watched too many 'Fast and Furious' movies and can drive sideways, and their sisters who are worse, it ain't testosterone poisoning. I stay as far away as possible from white license plates with blue text, that's Ontario or Quebec and they do things that the Miami Cubans have never dreamed of. The Don should build the damn wall along the northern border and keep the snowbirds out, the Mexicans are much better behaved. They're better behaved than the Miami Cubans.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Another Dartford crossing complaint...

        I think I now understand why US TV contains so many advertisements for drugs

  51. Just Another SteveO

    AT&T did the same....

    I’ve been getting billing/payment stuff for a guy in the US (I’m in London UK) - normally does his business in a Georgia store. I even got his ‘welcome to AT&T email. It’s not clear however if he used my email or AT&T logged the wrong one although I have my suspicions.

    AT&T usually respond with all the same details I can’t supply either, what with not and never have been a customer and all.... And if I can’t log in to their system to prove who I am, then well, I can’t be dealt with.

    They aren’t very good....

    1. hayzoos

      Re: AT&T did the same....

      Not at all surprised with AT&T. I think they have at least four separate databases containing an email field. They are not all updated upon changing your e-mail, via one of the many ways to change your e-mail. One of them does not work with plus addressing aliases from gmail. I think it is the paperless billing, but part of it does. I could register and verify and receive email from the paperless billing except for the last step where I would receive paperless bills, but I would get other notifications pertaining to paperless bills at the plus address. I eventually created an att alias email on my domain.

      On a related note with AT&T, They plastered another layer of security over their insecure ad-hoc system. They implemented 2FA via SMS, but only to AT&T numbers, and only to an AT&T number on the account. High fives and adjourn for beer after that meeting, eh. So, when I find myself working out of town where there is no cell coverage but I can get wifi, I cannot login to my account. Of all the 2FA options available SMS is the most vulnerable to interception. The backend TOTP generation is the same as used with tokens without the swiss chees SMS. They refuse to acknowledge that the 2FA they implemented keeps me out, but not a determined hacker.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    About 10 years ago I bought a new mobile phone wioth a new SIM and when it came I thought I'd got a really good number as the number incliuded a double and a triple in it. However it turned out to be recyced and after a few weeks I got an unexpected phone call - turned out to be a landlord wonderign where his tenant (and I assume her rent) was, then over next weeks had occasional calls/texts from her friends followed by a full set of utility companies chasing unpaid bills. Next I started getting texts from payday load compainies offering loans then after about 6 months started to get the calls from debt collecting firms (who, to give them credit, were perfectly uinderstanding when I explained that the person they wanted had had the number in the past and they removed my number from their systems) .... this kept on going on a occasional basis for years - I still very occasionaly get a call like this.

    Worst case was Scottish Power who started sending daily "your account is in arrears" texts to me - I phoned them to ask them to stop and got the "can In have the account number please" question - explained I didn;t have an account with them so I ddn't know them number so call centre person said there was nothing they could do I explained that in that case if I kept on getting texts I would be making a formal complaint of harrassment .... a couple of hours later got a call back to say that they'd "managed to search their database to find the account associated with my number deleted it from the contact details"

    Also in the process of all these contacts I got to find out the full name of the person who'd had my number before,, the address where they'd been (one of the utility companies had helpfully asked me to confirm I didn;t live at that address), I could probably deduce the name of a gym where they'd been a member and also a hospital where they were being called for checkups

    1. Tom 35

      The first time I had to get a mobile phone for work (a Motorola flip phone) the number they gave be was recycled from a drug dealer with at least 4 upset girlfriends. After a day (and night) of constant calls I had to get a new number and have them reset my small number of "free" minutes.

  53. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    "Turnpikes – the concept of charging road users for the privilege of driving on a particular road, ...They were progressively abolished..., having proved an impediment to free trade and national prosperity."

    May be the "Information Super Highway" will be funded centrally in order not to be an impediment to free trade and national prosperity

  54. Hazmoid

    I totally sympathise

    having one of the 6 letter prefix gmail accounts, I totally sympathise with Gary. I've had many emails regarding all sorts of things for multiple people with the same inital and surname. I usually just reply and say that I am not the person they are trying to contact as I live in Perth Western Australia and have never been to the USA. I then assign it to my junk mail folder, never to be seen again.

  55. Haviland

    I have had people using my gmail address to sign up to Chaturbate alerts, book a weekend away in Stirling (got part of his wife's CC data then), someone opened up an investment account with Capital One in the US and someone who used a hotel on The hotel didn't seem that bothered until I pointed out that I could cancel the booking by hitting a link in the email, booking was non-refundable, and it wouldn't be me going getting shit when they tried to check in.

  56. holmegm

    This is eerily familiar. Right down to the early adopter, first.surname gmail.

    I am regularly astonished by not only the namesakes of myself who do not know their own email addresses, but also by the thickness of the organizations and people to whom they have supplied my email address.

    No, I am not your family member.

    I do not owe your foreign government any taxes.

    The vehicle to which you refer is not mine, and mine has never driven in your land, though I'm glad you want my repeat custom.

    I'm glad you found someone with my name fetching, but I do not want your rather-too-personal photo which you have sent me (yes, this has happened, and it turns out the randy bloke had actually had business cards made up with my email address. I tracked him down from sheer curiosity, and he found it hilarious.)

  57. MJI Silver badge


    Last seen in a flat in Peckham after being found in a van.

  58. Olivier2553

    firstname.lastname at gmail

    I don't understand the problem of firstname.lastname being the same as without the dot. Gmail will not allow to register the dotted version if the undotted pre-exist and vice versa.

    So if you own the firtsname.lastname another person cannot own the one without dot. They are making a plain mistake in giving their email address, this has nothing to do with Gmail.

    1. holmegm

      Re: firstname.lastname at gmail

      That is correct; either the person himself gives the incorrect email address, or the shopman typed it in wrong, or friends and family typed it wrong, simply assuming that their loved one has the good email address instead of the joe.smith546 that they actually had to settle for.

      It is not Gmail's fault; they are simply so large that it happens with them more often.

  59. Tom 35

    Forward: Stupid daily sale flier I didn't sign up for

    To: Guy that said he could not do anything

    Funny after 3 days they stopped.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Glad it's not just me then.

    There's a bloke in the states with the same name as me who thinks he owns my email address. I've had unexpected communication about all sorts of things:

    - Playstation network, this was the first one quite a while ago, I contacted Sony and they shut down the account.

    - Instagram, I went to sign up for an account and discovered I already had one. Reset the login, loads of pictures that were nothing to do with me. Deleted and started again!

    - Goodgame Empire, online game of some sort. Got a ton of spam from this, contacted them and they deleted the account. Next thing I know I get another email from them, a reply to a support request about a failed logon... So used the address again on a webform I'm guessing? Clever(!)

    - Harry's, you know the shaving subscription thing? Reset the login so I could close the account, couldn't find that option. Contemplated ordering an absurd quantity of items to his address but decided this would put me in a decidedly dodgy position since it would cost the guy money... So changed the name on the account to STOPUSING MYEMAILADDRESS instead, to send a message. Wouldn't be surprised if it still says it on his regular delivery.

    - Insurance quotes. Tons of them.

    The one that really concerned me though was Amex. I can't see his account number or anything like that but I get a statement summary every month, I can see how much he owes, I can see whenever he makes a payment. All data I should not have access to. I tried contacting them by email, through their website and by telephone. Every time I was told, you're not the customer so we can't change anything. To use the website chat I actually had to reset the login, and even though I explained I had done this and was accessing the site through their customer's account they weren't interested. In my job, if I suspected an account was compromised I'd lock it down fairly swiftly. If I got a message directly from someone using the account saying it was breached there would be no hesitation or question about it. Maybe they're scared the customer would phone up to complain when his payments wouldn't go through, maybe the customer's convenience takes precedence over the security of their data, but really it would be kinder to him and less hassle for everyone if they'd step in and tell him to stop being a dickhead and remember his own email address. If it was their UK branch processing the data I'd be onto the ICO already, but alas, out of their jurisdiction I fear.

    Btw, I have considered contacting the guy by mail, or by phone, it wouldn't be a problem since I've had those details thrust into my lap enough times now, but I'm genuinely scared, since it's clear that he's an idiot, he'll probably decide it's all my fault and set his lawyer on me. It's just not worth the risk.

    Edit: Something I've always been irked about when this happens and ought to mention - It could all be avoided if these sites and services would bother to verify the address when someone signs up.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Glad it's not just me then.

      " I have considered contacting the guy by mail, or by phone, it wouldn't be a problem since I've had those details thrust into my lap enough times now, but I'm genuinely scared, since it's clear that he's an idiot, he'll probably decide it's all my fault and set his lawyer on me. It's just not worth the risk."

      You said he's "in the states" (wherever that is!), and I assume that you are not. You are out of his jurisdiction, so it's safe for you to contact him, even if he is an idiot who like to make trouble for people trying to help him. If his "lawyer" contacts you, simply ignore it. You tried.

  61. Rtbcomp

    Unsolicited Fax from a Solicitor

    I once got a fax from a solicitor intended for his client. I put it in an envelope and sent it second class to the client.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One up

    All this is trivial; my misdirected gmail yesterday came from Donald J. Trump himself!

    Apparently he needs to raise money from Theodore (my name also starts with T) for an "Impeachment Witch Hunt Fight"; the total raised by yesterday was $3,144,257 but his target is $5m. But the deadline was midnight last night, and I missed it.

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