East of the Sun, West of the Moon

2007/10/15

Identity Theft

Filed under: Humo(u)r — Erwin @ 3:59 pm

Actually, I’m dealing with the opposite here. Someone has mistakenly used the email address that I have with my ISP (that would be the one that I don’t use except to check it regularly to see if anything other than the usual batch of spam was there, like important messages or anything from the ISP itself) to sign up for websites aimed at future college students.

The most recent one was more than just an email-newsletter subscription, it was an account with all sorts of personal information like the person’s name and address, phone number, current high school, etc. I’d like to warn this person (or the parents) that making mistakes like this is going to cause them trouble one fine day, but how do I do that? Calling them up and saying “Hi, I’m a complete stranger that lives in a different state, but I know your child’s name and birth date and what school s/he attends” wouldn’t exactly inspire confidence, I imagine, and they don’t exactly live next door (the fun of cable companies that provide their service in many different states).

Suggestions would be appreciated. 🙂

4 Comments

  1. actually… calling them and doing just that is probably best.

    we get that at work a lot — folks with common names will forget that they aren’t in face dsmith@gmail.com but really dsmith234@gmail.com. and suddenly the REAL owner of dsmith@gmail.com is trying to figure out why they are getting account notices 😛 We’ll try to track down the real dsmith (really only works when it’s a unique last name instead of smith) and get them to fix their email address 😛

    Comment by Leah — 2007/10/15 @ 4:16 pm

  2. You’re in a slightly different position, comparable to the ISP in my situation. I’ll keep it in mind, though.

    Comment by Erwin — 2007/10/15 @ 6:24 pm

  3. Calling them up and saying “Hey, buddy, I’m receiving your email, and it’s got a bunch of private stuff in it” will probably work, no? I for one would definitely keep listening after hearing something like that.’

    -Kalle.

    Comment by Kalle — 2007/10/17 @ 10:22 am

  4. OH MAN! I had this same exact thing happen to me! This was the most annoying thing!!!

    I had used this particular email address for YEARS without incident. But all of a sudden I started to receive emails that belonged to someone else. When some of the emails turned out to be receipts and order confirmations, I got scared, and thought someone was using my information to buy stuff. However, after a few conversations with customer services reps at reputable companies, I realized that that was not the case at all. Though the person ordering this stuff shared the same first and last name with me, she lived in a different state, with different financial information, and was in no way connected with me. Like you said, it was like reverse ID theft! Someone takes their own ID and tries to superimpose it on yours!

    Also, I started getting more and more junk mail as this person was evidently using my email address all over the place! Since I was inadvertently receiving her private information, and I was sick of the spam, I felt obliged to finally just call her, since her contact information was sent to me in many different unwanted emails. When I finally got her on the phone, I politely mentioned that I was getting her emails and that perhaps she was accidentally giving out the wrong email address to people. She started fussing at me saying “But thats MY website! I NEED MY WEBSITE! I already printed up my business cards!!!” I was baffled why she would be calling it a website; but I continued to try to explain. Finally, she was getting mad and almost yelling, so I just said goodbye and hungup.

    I went back to my computer, and came upon yet another misdirected email, and then…BINGO…I got it! It all came clear! I realized that the problem stemmed from the fact that while my email address was myusername@domain.com, her email address was actually http://www.myusername@domain.com. So, when she would sign up for things, people and/or machines would just automatically drop the www. from the address, and voila, I received the mail. UGH!

    Finally, I emailed her a very diplomatic letter, trying to explain the difference between an email address and a website. She never responded, but to my relief, the misdirected email quickly tapered off.

    So, I guess I didnt really offer a suggestion as how to address your situation. But I thought maybe if I commiserated you might get something from it 😉

    -E

    Comment by Erika — 2007/10/28 @ 4:53 am

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