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What Would You Do if You Get a Misdirected Email?

Would You Reply to Misdirected Emails?

Lately, I've been getting a lot of personal emails for a woman who shares my name. My friends and I joke about it because suddenly I know all about her life. I know what town she lives in and which websites she visits — she must be accidentally entering my email when she registers with different sites, and has definitely put it on at least two group mailing lists. At first, I responded to the senders telling them they had the wrong person, but after receiving multiple emails from the same addresses — people who clearly haven't bothered to find the correct address — I've stopped responding. Some days I feel guilty, but I don't think I have an obligation to do so.

The New York Times agrees. According to their ethicist, unless the email seems like an emergency or other very important piece of communication, I'm not ethically obligated to reply. This must happen a lot — especially to people with relatively common email addresses. Does this happen to you? How would you handle it?

Join The Conversation
inlove23 inlove23 7 years
That's crazy. I'm glad this has never happened to me. However, I think I may have sent pictures to a wrong person before (nothing bad) because I accidently typed instead of Hopefully the email address doesn't exist!
Claire-Underwear Claire-Underwear 7 years
i keep getting emails for this woman in Australia. At first it was junk mail stuff, like art societies or newsletters. Then I got an email for her from her lawyer and another from a realtor. I thought I should respond, if they're sending sensitive information.
hyzenthlay20 hyzenthlay20 7 years
I've gotten several emails meant for a professor at the university I attended. I've always emailed those people back and let them know that I am not the person they hoped to email . . .
Happsmjc Happsmjc 7 years
Wow, this has never happened to me. Probably because I have a very uncommon last name, therefore an uncommon email address. I would probably do what others have said, reply to the first. I hate having mail clog my inbox. The only thing that ever happened was in college when applying to law school some kid accidentally sent this email to a huge list of many potential law students (I think it was a list of kids applying to law school that went to Jesuit colleges). The email included his SS number, LSAT score, and a ton of other info. Then everyone commented on it back and forth all weekend until someone shut the list down Monday morning. My inbox was getting hundreds of emails and I was so confused, AND I felt so bad for that kid!
socalbeachgal socalbeachgal 7 years
It depends on what is being sent...if it seems important I will send it back. Otherwise I'll ignore it.
KadBunny KadBunny 7 years
If it was reeally important, sure. I'd do something about it. Never had it happen to me though. Also, I love that mailbox! :D
skigurl skigurl 7 years
it depends i've done it, but i've also not
girlwparasol girlwparasol 7 years
I've recently been having the same issue with a man who has the same first initial and last name as me, and seems to think my email belongs to him. I'll politely respond to the FIRST email I get from an address, informing them that they have the wrong person. Subsequent emails get ignored, though. Mailing lists get marked as spam. It's probably not my responsibility, but considering I've gotten emails with his private, sensitive information from sources like his landlord, I feel it's only right to make the sender aware that the information is going to the wrong person, and needs to stop.
Ghostgirl Ghostgirl 7 years
I get the email confirmation of some woman in Tucson, AZ that she's paid her water bill every month. I've emailed the company several times saying a)this isn't that woman's email b)maybe you should stop sending me someone else's personal financial information. Never heard back from them! Finally after the 5th time they sent me her confirmation, I just marked it as spam.
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