Ask Miriam | Email Mishap Makes for Frustrating Unresolved Problem


Dear Miriam,

Someone in California (presumably with a similar email address to mine) is mistakenly using my email for her gym membership, bank statements and rideshare apps. I pride myself on a neat inbox, but I’m now getting dozens of emails a day that aren’t for me. I’ve contacted all the institutions, but they refuse to do anything about it. I’m not worried about identity theft, since it only seems to be an email issue, just about the annoyance. I’ve started generously tipping her Lyft drivers with the hope that she will notice and fix the situation, but I realize this may not be appropriate either. What should I do?


Email mishap

Dear Email,

This sounds extremely aggravating. Unfortunately, if this person hasn’t noticed a slew of missing emails, she probably will not notice the additional expenses associated with Lyft tips. Not that most of us notice digital bank statements and app receipts, but it seems like she’s probably not the most careful record keeper in general, and your act of resistance isn’t going to make an impact.

I appreciate that you’ve contacted the relevant institutions, and I’m surprised that none of their customer service departments can help you figure this out. While I almost hate to suggest it, I wonder if contacting them about the issue on social media would make an impact, since public bad press is harder to ignore than private customer service inquiries. I also wonder about contacting the email provider directly. They may be able to locate the person with a similar address to yours.

Along those lines, I wonder if you could troubleshoot some possible similar email addresses and try to find the person yourself. Making direct contact would probably be extremely satisfying for you, however, it’s also possible that even if you reached her, she wouldn’t adequately change all of her accounts. If you can’t find her through email, maybe you can find her through social media and let her know what’s going on. I also wonder if you could even find her physical address and send her a letter, considering how many of her accounts you have at least partial access to.

On the other hand, all of these suggestions have the potential to be a real time suck, much more so than deleting a bunch of emails or even setting up a filter so you don’t see them anymore in your pristine inbox. I completely understand the impulse to get to the bottom of this, but it might just not be worth the effort.

If you want to continue tipping drivers in California, as vindictive acts go, it’s actually pretty kind, so don’t let me stop you, but I don’t think it’s going to solve your problem or fix your frustration. Instead, I suggest making the delete button your best friend and moving on with your non-identity-compromised life.

Be well,




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