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I have had a GMail ever since it was created, so it's an email address that is easy to remember, but also easy for somebody else to get confused with. Since I'm not going to post my email address here, I'll put the format for it which is [first name][2 digit number]@gmail.com. Because of this, somebody unknowingly (or knowingly) has been using my email address to sign up for all sorts of things and now my inbox is even more full of junk. I was able to get his information (name, address, etc) from all the places that he's signed up for using my email, but I have been unable to find him to get a hold of him about this matter. I have also had to get ahold of all sorts of places that he's used my email to tell them that he has it wrong and all they will do is remove my email and won't try to tell him he's got the wrong email address. It is starting to become very time consuming and annoying that I have to get all these emails and have to get it removed. If I just ignore/delete these emails, then there's just going to be more and more of them. I'm wondering if anyone has had this happen before and if there's any solution for this sort of thing?

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Are you sure someone is not just trying to spam you? –  Pacerier Feb 11 at 6:12

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

This is not very uncommon. Unfortunately you have no single solution, unless the individual is in the same locale as you (in which case you may be able to take legal action if he is causing you to incur costs)

Generally, there is no technical solution, as this is a human problem. They could be doing it deliberately, as Pacerier suggests, or they may just think that they have the email address right.

Online services typically just let people signup with whatever address they give. The better ones require email validation - so as long as you don'tvalidate the email, those ones shouldn't cause you any problems.

In summary - you can try and educate the guy, but basically you'll just need to ignore the issue.

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This doesn't solve the root problem, but might be a useful workaround. You can start giving your address out as [first name][2 digit number][+][last name]@gmail.com. Gmail ignores everything after the + and you can filter for emails which don't include your last name. (It would probably be worth going through the filtered emails every ~week to catch emails from people who you haven't told to use the new address yet.)

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I'm afraid your only viable solution might be whitelisting: set up a filter that marks everything as spam unless it comes from a known lists of recipients, or contains a special string at the end (such as john.doe+foo@gmail.com) - as suggested by user @craq in another answer.

As others have pointed out you could also try to chase down the individual by having the authorities issue a subpoena to reveal the source IP address of a subscription, hoping it's in the same jurisdiction as you are and they don't use TOR:

  • of all the services you have been subscribe to,
  • find all those in your same jurisdiction
  • talk to the authorities, see if the originating IP can be tracked down
  • if the IP is consistent (i.e. not a known TOR exit node or from internet cafes) then the culprit could be tracked down

Of course there are a lot of "ifs" in this; and ultimately, if it is a prankster, they will find other ways to annoy you.

Perhaps they tried to contact you a long time ago to see if you would sell them your gmail address, and being ignored they started harassing you?

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