Alexander: E-mail mix-up probably not an accident

  • Article by: STEVE ALEXANDER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 15, 2011 - 4:36 PM

QSomeone else with my name and a very similar Gmail address has been having his mail delivered to me. My e-mail address contains periods between the first and last name, and his doesn't. I was puzzled by this, because I know Gmail actually ignores periods in e-mail addresses -- so this person appeared to have the same e-mail as me.

I wondered why this was happening, and several times replied to the sender, indicating that the e-mail (all from organizations) was being sent to the wrong Naren Shah. Then, last year, I received an e-mail from another person with the same last name. I e-mailed him back, and found out that he was the son of the person for whom I was getting e-mail. The son said his father didn't have the same e-mail address as me, but had used it as a fake e-mail address on a website, probably to avoid receiving spam. He said he would tell his father not to do that in the future.

The e-mail for the father stopped for a while, but now it has started again. The son has not responded to my latest e-mail. Is there any way to stop this e-mail from coming to me?

NAREN Shah, Nepean, OntARIO

AI think you've got a bigger problem than stopping some unwanted e-mail.

After reading your correspondence with the son, which you included in your e-mail to me, I'd say your identity may have been stolen.

Consider the sequence of events. A man signs up on a website using your Gmail address, supposedly to avoid getting e-mail. After you've responded to the junk e-mail without effect, the man's son contacts you. You correspond with him, sharing your full legal name, the city you live in, the part of India you are originally from and your wired and cellular telephone numbers. He says it's all a big mistake. But you never hear from him again, even though the junk e-mail resumes and you e-mail him.

I suggest you read the Federal Trade Commission's alert called "What To Do If Your Personal Information Has Been Compromised," at tinyurl.com/5u5oezq. Also, don't respond to any more e-mails related to these people. Mark them as spam instead.

Several readers have asked why their HP printers no longer scan documents or photos to a PC.

HP says the problem occurs when printer users switch PC operating systems from Windows Vista to Windows 7. The fix is to go to tinyurl.com/7fgfh7j and download either "HP Solution Center version 13 or higher" or, if there isn't one for your printer, download "HP Solution Center patch."

Note: Nancy Cox Marafioti of Utica, N.Y., was misidentified in last week's Droid smartphone item.

E-mail tech questions to steve.j.alexander@ gmail.com, or write to Tech Q&A, 425 Portland Av., Minneapolis, MN 55488. Include name, city and telephone number.

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