My Gmail address is given to banks, Electricity Department, Water Department and so on and so forth. Let us assume, my email address is John@GMail.com. There are lots of other users, who have email address such as: JohnG@GMail.com, John.G@GMail.com, Johnn@GMail.com.

The banks, when emailing the other Johns, incorrectly type their email address as John@GMail.com which results in a lot of (unwanted) email to me.

I cannot mark the email as spam because, even I will receive my statements from the same banks.

Any suggestions on how to sort this problem?

Or, do I pick up a bottle of chilled beer and start reading Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure and relax that my life is far, far better than theirs? :-)

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    Love the "Jude the Obscure" remark :-) – Joel Spolsky Oct 20 '10 at 17:01
  • I doubt it's the bank making the error. The accounts holder probably mangled their own e-mail address. – ale Oct 21 '10 at 16:06
  • My friend has a similar problem. Her address which is <first-initial><lastname>@gmail.com, eg. jsmith@gmail.com, but nowhere near as common is plagued by a few users who share her first initial and last name and keep using it for their address, when it isn't, repeatedly. Arghhh – Joseph Kingry Dec 17 '10 at 4:54

I would reply to the banks, and tell them that they are emailing the wrong person, after all, you are probably receiving confidential information, which could result in legal problems...Email their support department, and/or visit them in person, and make sure you go high enough on the management, so that they will take you more seriously and correct the problem quicker...

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    studiohack: I have emailed the Support Team's many many times...but to no avail. Escalations seems to be the only way. – Kanini Oct 20 '10 at 16:43
  • can you visit them in person? – studiohack Oct 20 '10 at 16:52
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    studiohack: Visiting them in person is a solution no doubt. But, shouldn't the people who are not receiving the emails be more worried about. I am just looking for a solution where I do not get my inbox flooded with these emails. BTW, I understand the condifdentiality part, but what I can do regarding the legal problems. After all, I am at no fault, except of course, for picking up an email address as John@GMail.com when GMail was initially rolled out. – Kanini Oct 21 '10 at 7:19

If you are receiving email at specific addresses you can create a filter for them. Put those addresses in the "To" field, then set them to be deleted. Deleted items stick around for 30 days in the trash so you can check regularly in case any emails you wanted went in there.

Side note: johng@gmail.com and john.g@gmail.com is the same account - GMail ignores all dots in the username.

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First, accept the fact that you will constantly be flooded with emails that aren't intended for you and don't get picked up by a spam filter automatically. There is nothing you can do about this, because from a spam filter's perspective, it doesn't look like spam. There is no alternative to manually marking those emails as spam.

Given the fact that you accept this, it is my understanding is that you occasionally run into a situation where you can't mark the email as spam manually, because you also use the site from which the false email is being generated. By marking it as spam, you block legit emails from reaching you.

If you must keep that email address (sounds like its more trouble than its worth), then you can use plus notation and some tricky filtering to fix that case. In emails, anything after a plus (but before the @) is discarded for delivery purposes, but can be used for filtering in email clients like gmail. For example, sending an email to John+nospam@gmail.com will actually be delivered to John@gmail.com. But gmail still konws that the email was delivered to John+nospam@gmail.com, so you can filter on everything after the +.

When signing up for alerts on sites, give them the John+Nospam@gmail address. Then, create a filter in gmail to tell it to never automatically mark emails to that address as spam. In the "to" field, place "John+Nospam@gmail.com". On the next screen, check the "Never send it to spam" field. Then click on the "Create Filter" button.

Now, you can mark whatever you want as spam, without worrying about your emails from getting through (as long as you give out the john+nospam@gmail.com address to those sites that you also use).

I doubt I did a very good job explaining myself, but hopefully it will get you started. A quick search for "plus notation" in google will give you more information on how to use plus notation.

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  • @arscan: Hmm. Let me get it straight. I update my email address in the banks, water department, electricity department as John+NoSpam@GMail.com and then setup a filter in my GMail and the problem is solved? If that works (although, I do not understand half-of-what-you-wrote), the next time we meet the beer is on me. – Kanini Oct 22 '10 at 7:12
  • Yes, if I understand your problem correctly. Personally, I would just get another email address... – arscan Oct 22 '10 at 13:12
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    Also, one small correction in your original post. Gmail strips out all <period>s in emails, so it is not possible for 2 seperate people to have JohnG@gmail.com and John.G@gmail.com. They both point to the same inbox. Just FYI :) – arscan Oct 22 '10 at 13:17
  • Here's some more information about using the "plus-addressing" in email: lifehacker.com/144397/instant-disposable-gmail-addresses While this could solve a lot of your problem, please note that there are sites out there that think a + is an invalid character for an email address and won't let you use it. – ale Oct 22 '10 at 18:14
  • @AL E: Yep, some sites may mistakenly think that emails with +'s in them are invalid, and prevent you from signing up with one. Only way to find out is to try. An alternative hack would be to take advantage of gmail's treatement of "." in email (it ignores them), and sign up on those sites as j.o.h.n@gmail.com, which will get delivered to john@gmail.com but is still filterable in the same manner as the + emails. Gmails behavior towards .'s isn't standard though, so it would only work if you use gmail. Again, best solution is to get another email address :) – arscan Oct 22 '10 at 18:29

You can forward emails to other Johns saying that the bank has sent you emails with confidential information. They will be probably more eager to solve this problem for you.

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    Jakub: Thanks! But, I would not know to which John should I be forwarding the email. Is it JohnG@GMail.com or John.EdwardGammel@GMail.com or ... – Kanini Oct 21 '10 at 2:21

Presumaby if these emails are coming from banks, utility companies, etc then they will have the other "John"'s full name somewhere in the email, maybe even the other "John"'s home address.

As long as it's normally the same individuals (or at least a fairly limited group of individuals) who keep making this mistake, then you could just set up a filter for each person diverting the mail straight into a folder, or delete it straight away.

Eg create a filter, "Has the words" "John Smith", "Skip the Inbox", "Apply the label" "Wrong John".

You'd obviously have to create a filter for each John, but it should save you work in the long run I'd have thought.

Oh, and congratulations on getting into GMail early enough that you got the email address that everyone else wants!

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    Thanks! But, I am quite not sure if getting that GMail address early enough was quite the sensible thing to do now :-) – Kanini Oct 25 '10 at 17:20

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