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Issue #618: May 25 – June 1, 2019

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Q: I am receiving emails that are intended for another Marion McCleann. She has the same name as me, but lives in Texas. I have been getting very personal emails of hers from banks, lawyers, pharmacies, online ordering, etc. I have even received a first draft of her will sent by her attorney. One email actually had her phone number on it and I called her. Apparently, her email is McCleannMarion@gmail. Same as mine, except in mine, the names are separated with a dot. It does not appear to be a scam and they never ask for anything. I have tried to contact Google with no luck. I have had this email for more than 10 years.

I have Cox cable and Verizon wireless. When I called her, it kind of sounded like she got the email address when she got a new phone. She said she would check with her carrier but I never heard anything more. She also said she does not receive my emails but seemed to be missing some of hers. When I researched it, Google says that the dot is inconsequential and that both emails are the same. Outside of changing my email address, I don’t know what to do.

 – Marion M.
Fort Walton Beach, Florida

A: I thought I was going to have a difficult time answering you because of my policy of not publishing the full name of people who write-in. After trying several different things, I opted simply to give you a temporary name change to mask your identity. So, readers, in the interest of full disclosure, consider yourselves informed that the name used within this issue is not genuine. I also went to great lengths to choose an appropriate and available name on Gmail, so as to not cause problems for some poor innocent who happened to share the name I chose.

One important thing to know about e-mail addresses is that they are not case-sensitive, and as you said, any dots embedded in the name are strictly to enhance human readability. So, McCleannMarion@gmail.com is the same e-mail address as mccleann.marion@gmail.com. There is no way you and this other person can both be receiving mail at the same address. It’s generally an all-or-nothing deal. One or the other of you will get either all of the e-mails, or none of them.

I’m a bit concerned that you left out the “.com” part of the address when you entered it in your question. I hope that was just an innocent omission. You shouldn’t make any assumptions – I have received communications via my website in the past from people who complained that they couldn’t reach me at my e-mail address. When I’ve looked into it, the problem was either they were trying to use my website URL as an e-mail address, or they were omitting the .com part of the address. Some people forgot it, and others stated that they thought it would work without it. (Hint: It won’t.)

Another thing I noticed is the two adjacent letters C in your address. There are about a dozen different ways to spell “McCleann” and I can’t help but wonder if, when you were discussing the matter with the other Marion, you went through the address, carefully enumerating each letter. For that matter, if all that was discussed was your mutual name, there might have been confusion around whether the address was structured FirstnameLastname@ or LastnameFirstname@. And with the complex, and rather unusual spelling of the address, I can see the potential for every single person who receives this address to accidentally leave out one of the Cs, or add an extra if the name is spelled with only one. Happens to me all the time, even when I spell-out my e-mail address. My point is, perhaps the other Marion has an e-mail address with a single C, but thinks she has one with two Cs. Maybe she’s been accidentally giving out your e-mail address, thinking it’s hers. Who knows? What is certain is that you both cannot own the identical address.

As for what to do, it really seems like it is the other person that has the problem. It is she who is losing e-mails, and you have done what you can to reach out to her to try and correct it. Your conscience should be clear at this point. The only absolute way for you to fix things is to create a new account for yourself. If you don’t want to go to that extreme length, my suggestion is to change your account password (just in case you both really are somehow able to access the account) and in the future, just delete messages that you know aren’t yours.

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