Why do I get other people's G-mail?

This is a weird one. I have a G-mail account that I seldom use.

Every day, without fail, I get mail for other people. I know when they pay their traffic tickets, have a doctor’s appointment, when their kid has a parent-teacher conference, and a lot more.

Their emails are close to mine, and these people are in the US, Canada, UK, New Zealand and more. Just this morning I got one mean for someone who rented a car in New Zealand.

Their emails are close, but not exactly like mine.

My email is firstnamelastname@gmail.com.

I get emails for:


Why is this happening?

Check the mail headers.

Dots are meaningless in gmail addresses (they have advantages in tracking and other situations), and you can add as many dots as you want to a firstnamelastname Gmail address and it will still go to firstnamelastname. (Same for Capitalization.) Whenever I’ve gotten mail like that it’s becase the recipient did not understand the permitted variations on their gmail address and they gave the wrong one out.


I can at least answer the first one. the “.” in the address doesn’t matter. Gmail made it a policy that they all go to you.

The second one is questionable.

I have a common name and get a lot of wrong messages. If somebody incorrectly put their email, there’s not much you can do about it.

@bowline beat me to the punch!

1 Like

What I’m genuinely surprised about is that people don’t seem to care that they gave the wrong one out. I had one egregious case that I actually cancelled their order because they wouldn’t change to the right email.

Here’s a snippet from Dots don’t matter in Gmail addresses

What to do if you get someone else’s mail

Adding dots doesn’t change your address, so dots aren’t why you got someone else’s mail. Instead, the sender probably mistyped or forgot the correct address.

For example, if someone meant to email john.43.smith@gmail.com but typed john.smith@gmail.com , the message went to you because you own johnsmith@gmail.com .

Notify the sender

If the email seems irrelevant but not suspicious, reply to the sender saying they have the wrong address.

Look for “hidden” middle initials.

I own firstnamelastname@gmail.com. My name is not common, but not uncommon either, especially in the UK. There’s a guy with firstnamemiddleinitiallastname@gmail.com, and I get his E-mail all the time because his middle initial tends to be visible. Compare: johnbeales vs johnhbeales - people miss the h. I once got his confirmation information for a first-class flight on Air France from Paris to Johannesburg. That’s when I realized he is real and the E-mails I was getting weren’t all phishing attacks.

There are a couple of other John Beales’ out there that I get E-mail for, and I don’t know their real addresses so I don’t know why I get their mail. A few are landowners or landlords in the UK, so I often get stuff from their lawyers or accountants about real estate transactions or things they’re trying to convince the local council to do. Generally I let them know and move on. One is a professional soccer player, and occasionally I get contract-related stuff for him.

1 Like

I’ve been getting email from the condo concierge of some fellow in London for years. Some of it very actionable. (“Your driver will be at the front door at 6:00 AM with your airline tickets.”) The sender’s address is send-only for some reason, and I’ve not managed to guess at an address with a real person on the other end. So after a year of attempts, now I blacklist the address.

1 Like

you could move to London and live someone esle’s life :scream:



I have a x.lastname@gmail.com account (where x = first name initial - very clever :face_with_monocle:) and sometimes I get email addressed to xlastname@gmail.com. I never understood gmail’s dot policy…

I never thought to check the mail headers! I will do that from now on.

Does gmail allow someone to register a gmail address like first.last@gmail.com if firstlast@gmail.com is already taken? They should prevent that from the get go.


Ha, there is some amusing irony in that those goofy email addresses from the 2000s might actually have prevented some these issues. I guess a modern strategy could be to use your own domain in your email address or use something other than your name.

Why is this happening? We used to call this an iD10T problem.

If you are getting multiple emails to the same address, create a server side rule to mark them read and move them to Trash.

Someone registered a fantasy football team at CBSSports and opened an account at Chick-fil-a using my email address. (He likes the #1 Combo with a large drink). I changed the passwords on both.

Lol. That’s one thing I didn’t understand. Peoples emails are crucial. Easy to reset the password. If it were me, I’d freak out and correct it

Sometimes it’s just a typo. I once received a pretty important email for a Zachary Cavender (the sender was very glad I alerted her).

He and I both use the firstinitialsurname@gmail convention, so given the standard QWERTY keyboard, it was an easy mistake to make.

I get emails for a Susan Hackett pretty often. Her email is one letter off from mine