Lisa S Davis meets Lisa S Davis
April 3, 2017 1:12 PM   Subscribe

For 18 years, I thought she was stealing my identity. Until I found her. The tickets had something else in common. Brownsville, the South Bronx, East Harlem, Bed-Stuy (at least eight years ago, when the ticket was issued), all of them are neighborhoods with large black or Hispanic, and very small white, populations. It was then that it became clear to me: the reason for the tickets wasn’t that these Lisa Davises were petty criminals.
posted by Michele in California (97 comments total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Night_owl at 1:25 PM on April 3, 2017

I saw this on HN. Their take-away was that developers should be less lazy when it comes to determining uniqueness - full name plus DOB doesn't cut it. AT some point kids are all going to get the Mark Of The Beast(tm) just so that everyone has a global UUID for stuff like this.

On the more humane side, it's sweet that they became friends.
posted by GuyZero at 1:28 PM on April 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

I can't keep reading this; I have to prepare for class. Yet I must keep reading this.

There is a Don Pepino in I think Illinois whose son's Christianschool soccer team updates kept coming to me. There's one in another state whose Orkin man sends me a little notice every time he sprays Other Don Pepino's house. A really long time ago I got yet another Other Don Pepino's credit card dunning notice. Oh, there's a Don Pepino in Philadelphia who does wedding planning. I get confused with that one on Facebook sometimes. And once I was courted by a Don Pepino collector on Facebook.
posted by Don Pepino at 1:31 PM on April 3, 2017

I have and it's not a hugely common name combination, but sufficiently common. A few years back I got a series of emails layout out the ground rules and practice times for a high school water polo team in Arizona. I got someone's family contact list today. Annoying but not as annoying as getting spurious traffic tickets.
posted by GuyZero at 1:36 PM on April 3, 2017

Caption on the photo of the two ladies:

Lisa S Davis and Lisa S Davis. Photograph: Lisa Davis


There is a Don Pepino in I think Illinois whose son's Christianschool soccer team updates kept coming to me.

My dad, bless his heart, would email me and not know why I wasn't replying. He was emailing "jsmith" at, not "John.Smith" at (not my name, but you understand), even after I had emailed him directly a number of times. And I've received a few random emails to a group of people, where I did not know anyone. Once connected via the internet, the world can get pretty small. But before the internet, there's still big cities with lots of common-ish names, like Lisa Davis.

And then there's the hassle of travel, where your name is associated with someone else who is on a watch list, as my wife was, until we got married and she changed her last name to mine.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:40 PM on April 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have and it's not a hugely common name combination, but sufficiently common.


It's a big mystery for me because some of this mail is pretty legit (not sign up spam residue), the contents/metadata of which indicate this was mail they actually wanted to get-- and I wonder what circumstances led these people to think they have an email address that they don't actually have, and are giving it out.

Or are they at and people mishear??
posted by danny the boy at 1:42 PM on April 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Just yesterday I sent a recommendation to a hiring manager that he check for a typo as I'm not in Ireland but that the other sam must be an excellent candidate (on the quality of the name alone). I do hope to attend an opera performance one dat by the sam that was in music school in the midwest.
posted by sammyo at 1:43 PM on April 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

And then there's the hassle of travel, where your name is associated with someone else who is on a watch list

On one hand, how laughable is it that you can get around the no-fly list with a pretty simple name change. On the other hand, it's not funny for a lot of people.
posted by GuyZero at 1:44 PM on April 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

I know there's someone in the UK with the same name as mine, because I keep getting brunch invitations from his friends on my gmail account.
posted by figurant at 1:45 PM on April 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

But also TFW you go to the ticket kiosk at the airport and it asks if you are the danny the boy that is going to North Carolina for work or the danny that is going to Paris, France in presumably the best version of our lives
posted by danny the boy at 1:45 PM on April 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

Is there a reason the DMV doesn't just use social security number, the existing mark of the beast?
posted by corb at 1:46 PM on April 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

This happened to me. In college, there was another Kevin Belt. Our library system was only rudimentarily digitized at the time (this was the 90s), and to check out, you would just give your name, and the librarian would enter that and find your record. For some reason, even though my middle initial is alphabetically before his, and I used the library system much more frequently, they would always pull up his account. He ALWAYS had overdue books, and so they'd refuse to check me out, and I'd have to point out that I was the other Kevin Belt. A girl I dated once went to high school with that guy, and apparently he was kind of douchey. When she saw my name, she told me she had second thoughts about dating me because she didn't like him. Saved by the profile picture.

It's funny to me. From what I can determine, there are only like five Kevin Belts in the world. (One is a forest ranger, another played football at Salisbury College.) What are the chances that two of us would go to the same college at the same time?
posted by kevinbelt at 1:48 PM on April 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

Emails I get at my 'j.smith' email address:
- some guy in Utah's GOP newsletters
- some guy in Florida's power bill
- some woman in Manchester's gardening club newsletter
- some guy in Ontario's volunteer fire department softball team information
- some Brisbane landlord's emails from their property manager
- some guy in New Jersey's Nissan dealership newsletter
- some woman's DISH network bill
- some guy in Alabama's home refinancing offers

Fascinatingly mundane.
posted by Jimbob at 1:49 PM on April 3, 2017 [4 favorites]

What are the chances that two of us would go to the same college at the same time?

I'd say 100%
posted by chavenet at 1:50 PM on April 3, 2017 [6 favorites]

Is there a reason the DMV doesn't just use social security number, the existing mark of the beast?

Maybe privacy laws and possibly because the DMV can issue licenses to lots of people who don't have SSNs. e.g. people on long-term visas where they're legally not allowed to work.
posted by GuyZero at 1:54 PM on April 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

Another over here. Turns out there's a Firstname Lastname who lives only a few miles away from me, and I regularly get his email. I once got the catering invoice for the bar mitzvah of his (I presume) son or grandson, and I had to call the caterer to politely decline it.

My wife has an extraordinarily unusual first name, so unusual that she was actually able to snag Turns out there's a woman in Texas with the same first name, and my wife gets her emails so often she gives me regular reports on how she's doing.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:56 PM on April 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

I used to receive so many emails for my own personal "John Smith," who uses my email address every time he logs into anything- finally having had enough, I logged into his car lease (resetting his password with my email), got his home phone number, and gave him a ring.

First he expressed surprise that was not his email address. Then he wanted my grandparents' surnames because he was curious how we were related (Iranians!). Finally, he left me an email address so that I could "forward all emails I get for him from now on." I declined. I still receive his emails.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 1:58 PM on April 3, 2017 [11 favorites]

Ha! I've had several people I know talk to me about this phenomenon recently. I tend not to use my real name for sites and services (partly because I'm someone for whom thinking up new character names is the most fun part of any given CRPG). I did get odd mistaken/misaddressed mail in an unfamiliar script to an old whimsically-named account which inadvertently turned out to share a name with a city somewhere in the middle-east (I kid ye not!). Guessing I'm on at least one watchlist for that.
posted by comealongpole at 1:59 PM on April 3, 2017

social security numbers are almost completely unique. almost.
posted by lescour at 2:00 PM on April 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

This is great, thanks for posting. Everyone with an even somewhat common name has a million tiny stories of their name doppelgangers. This is a whole other level.

I really like that the Lisa Davises are friends, and are working together to sort out the bureaucratic nightmare. I thought this part was especially interesting:

The tickets had something else in common. Brownsville, the South Bronx, East Harlem, Bed-Stuy (at least eight years ago, when the ticket was issued), all of them are neighborhoods with large black or Hispanic, and very small white, populations. It was then that it became clear to me: the reason for the tickets wasn’t that these Lisa Davises were petty criminals. The reason was likely that they lived in highly policed areas where even the smallest infractions are ticketed, the sites of “Broken Windows” policing. .

I appreciate that Lisa used this experience to examine the situation outside of herself. Inconvenience for her, injustice for someone else.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 2:02 PM on April 3, 2017 [41 favorites]

Also, just as an FYI, Gmail specifically ignores periods in usernames, viz. This is often a source of confusion for many folks. :-]
posted by zuhl at 2:03 PM on April 3, 2017 [6 favorites]

I get mails from time to time for (no, I really have that address). Turns out it's people looking for a rabbi, and I just reply that I'm not him, please check again. Most of them are nice. One woman went utterly screamy at me about stealing her rabbi's email address so she couldn't get him to help with the bris. I blocked her. (There's also a NY rapper who has a name similar, but he hasn't reached out for me or tried to grab the domain name.)

Thankfully my real name is as far as I can tell unique in the world.
posted by mephron at 2:03 PM on April 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

There's a person with my first and last name who writes erotic m/m ebooks. Her website is one of the first results that comes up when you do a search on my name.

The really weird thing is how I found out about this: She posted a question to a community for writers that I used to moderate. I remember staring at her username and wondering if I'd had some kind of weird blackout during which I'd created a new account using my real name and, oh, written a bunch of erotic m/m ebooks. My name isn't super rare, but it's rare enough that the idea that it was just a coincidence was almost too much to accept.

It's pretty hard to tell that she's not me, actually even if you're paying attention, because her website is focused on her books and doesn't contain many personal details. I'm soon to be on the job market and it makes me a little nervous...
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 2:04 PM on April 3, 2017 [15 favorites]

I have and it's not a hugely common name combination, but sufficiently common.

Google sees no difference between firstname.lastname and firstnamelastname. Why they even allow the dots is beyond me.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:05 PM on April 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

My husband has a not-common name, and once got a summons to appear in court re: an underage drinking citation issued at a state park a few hours from us. As he'd never been to that park and was in his 30s at the time, we were very confused. Turns out the kid lived in our small suburb, on the *same street* as us, and while the envelope had the correct address on it, the mail carrier assumed it was mis-addressed and delivered it to us, more than once.

I keep waiting for the day when he gets pulled over for a routine traffic stop and has to explain to a very confused officer that no, he didn't get cited (and license suspended/revoked/whatever they do for drunk teens) for underage drinking at 32.
posted by okayokayigive at 2:09 PM on April 3, 2017 [4 favorites]

My husbands first and last names are super common. Even in our small town there is another one - although much younger. We have gotten some strange phone calls over there years - some hilarious ones from middle school girls looking for the younger one but there were two particualry weird ones. Someone from new england named stacy apparently moved to oklahoma to be with someone with my husbands name. None of her friends and family could get ahold of her and it took several phone calls for me to convince them my husband didn't have stacy holed up somewhere. The question they asked to finally satisfy them? My husbands height. Answer 5' 10" Mystery man was like 6' 5". The other super weird one - Someone from south dakota had taken two kids that were in his care and left the state, saying he was taking them to his 10000 acre ranch in Oklahoma. It took lots of talking to convince the woman calling that not only was i not married to a man that showed up from south dakota with two kids, but neither we or anyone i know have a 10000 acre ranch. That one was pretty unnerving.
posted by domino at 2:11 PM on April 3, 2017

I think one of the early implementations of Gmail did use the dots for something, so they are there but not there and it is a colossal mess.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 2:11 PM on April 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

I worked for Social Security a million years ago and in one suburb there were two old ladies with same name and date of birth whose files had big red letters written across them because data matching kept cancelling one or the other of them (or both) as frauds. For myself, I've rarely met people with my first name, Joy, but when I moved here, I found there was a woman with my name about 5 years older living in the same neighbourhood who used the same chemist, same food delivery service, same club. Notice I know her age? The pharmacy gave me her date of birth. I found her online (she had a business presence) but I couldn't think of anything to say to her. Maybe I could have pointed out we shared a name with a soft porn star of the 50s.
posted by b33j at 2:13 PM on April 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

There are two other guys with my name. Well, their full first name is different, but the shortened version is the same.

One of them worked the register at my local REI. I was getting rung up at a different register, and my cashier, on seeing my name, quietly went over to him and said someone was stealing his identity.
posted by notsnot at 2:15 PM on April 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh and the ratbastard ex once renewed his license at the DMV with a woman who was married to a man with the same not common name. He was a compulsive liar, so I would doubt this story, except I was there and she was shocked. Anyway, when I was in labour with my second kid and our phone wasn't working Telstra sent him round to sort it out.
posted by b33j at 2:17 PM on April 3, 2017

I also get far too much random email thanks to not so bright younger me namesquatting seven simple digits, and this puts it into perspective. I even have an AskMe question about how to deal with it.

I have had some close calls, though. My tax filing service glitched my email once, but they corrected it quickly.

I have received everything from little league schedules to legal documents and full on HIPAA violating medical records. I've had baby pictures, family pictures and full on nudes and risque shit intended for someone else.

Oh, and even stuff like e-tickets for planes or cruise ships, hotel reservations and more. In some instances I could have canceled them, changed reservations and more. It's appalling.

I have spent more time than I'm comfortable with trying to correct some of these things. One of them took a year or more to resolve, and it was just some little league group or something where they'd take my email off their mail group for a while, and someone would revert to an old DB or list at some point and I'd start getting a flood of little league crap again until I'd loudly complain in terms like HELLO STRANGER DANGER YOU'RE LEAKING DATA ABOUT YOUR KIDS TO A STRANGER WTF and then they'd finally pay attention.

I sometimes get receipts or other records that include phone numbers. This is where google voice comes in handy, because I can text them and tell them to stop using made up email addresses for their crap. And we're not talking throw-away spam crap, here, but fairly important stuff like vehicle repair or medical appointments or records or something.

I can't imagine dealing with an actual legal name namespace fuckup like this. I'd probably just change my legal name.
posted by loquacious at 2:17 PM on April 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

Google sees no difference between firstname.lastname and firstnamelastname. Why they even allow the dots is beyond me.

They used to differentiate between addresses. For a while I had a gmail account, with firstname.lastname@gmail as the format; I'd tried to sign up with FirstnameLastname and was told it was occupied. But I could use the dot, so I did.

Then, some time later, Gmail announced it was no longer going to see the difference between the formats with dots, the formats with dashes, etc. - it was all going to be the same thing. As for those of us who had already signed up with firstname-lastname formats, but with dots or dashes or what have you to distinguish ourselves, well, sucked to be us.

For a while we muddled through. The upshot of this change was that those of us who now all had each others' email, we were all receiving each others' email. I didn't get much on my gmail account at that stage anyway; but my doppelganger, a wedding planner in Virginia, certainly did. I tried for a while to forward her the emails to the "correct" address - the one without a dot - and tried alerting the senders to the mixup. Then, on a day when I received a series of progessively more flirty emails from her husband, despite my gently and then firmly reminding him "this isn't me, remember," I finally gave up, let her have the address, and got a totally different one.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:20 PM on April 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

I can't believe I forgot this one. There's a Don Pepino who wrote an essay in the local paper about her faith community and people were coming up to me at the farmers' market congratulating me on getting my essay about my church in the newspaper.
posted by Don Pepino at 2:23 PM on April 3, 2017 [5 favorites]

Wow, all I have to worry about is an Oddman in California who sometimes defaults on credit cards. All I do is call the collection agency and make it clear that the SS they have isn't mine. And that's that.

Come to think of it, he hasn't defaulted on anything in a while. I hope it's for good reasons.

(Also the AARP seems to think I'm my dad, but that's just funny.)
posted by oddman at 2:37 PM on April 3, 2017

The expansion of the SSN as Identifier
State laws restricting private use of Social Security numbers

This issue with similar names is an issue in insurance as well. It sometimes results in the claim being processed under the brother's or father's policy. Worse, the policy is under Mr. Dan Smith. A claim is submitted for his wife Peggy with inadequate information. It is processed under the policy owned by an unrelated Peggy Smith because search function for spousal info is borked. You basically look everything up under the policyholder's name (or did, back when I worked in insurance).

My ex is a junior. He joined the army months before his father officially retired from the army. They were vastly different pay grades and at different duty stations, but using the same bank. They were getting each other's pay. It was all kinds of headaches for everyone.
posted by Michele in California at 2:39 PM on April 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

The AARP was so convinced I'm my mother that their junk mail followed me for two addresses after I left home, no matter how often I asked them to stop. Finally, I called and explained to a nice agent that my mother had been dead for years and the constant reminders following me were actually rather painful. Putting it that way got instant results.
posted by Karmakaze at 2:42 PM on April 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have a relatively unusual name (why be coy; it's part of my name here -- you guess which part), and as such I have almost NEVER had any sort of name collision anywhere. In the Internet era, I've generally been able to be chet@ whatever domain I had email on, which is nice, though I missed the boat on buying my .com or .net domains back in the day.

Once, though, towards the end of the dot-com boom, my company hired an HR contractor in the New York office whose name was also Chet, and whose last name started with a letter that put him after me, alphabetically, in the company directory. And by then we were using Exchange, so people were just typing names into emails instead of addresses.

And because it was HR, and not an operational department (where I was known, even in NY), it took them most of two days to realize that maybe they shouldn't be sending me all this internal HR crap.
posted by uberchet at 2:44 PM on April 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

I occasionally get receipts or "Thanks for shopping at [store in Australia]!" and ignore them. The one time I did follow up was when I got the loan documents from someone's bank for a personal loan. I sent the person a postcard explaining the situation and presumably they resolved it.

In the 90's friends who accidentally sent emails the the .com version of my domain name would get blistering emails back from the badger breeder(?) who lived in Australia and owned the .com.
posted by bendy at 2:48 PM on April 3, 2017 [4 favorites]

The only time this worked in my favor was my exhusband's credit getting mixed with his dad's because his excellent history probably helped our credit score.
posted by vespabelle at 3:15 PM on April 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Somewhat relatedly, I had long heard of my mysterious doppelganger. We lived in the same town and worked for the same company. She was killed in a really tragic accident last year. I didn't know SHE was my doppelganger until I randomly ran into her cousin, who also works for the same company, and that's how I found out that I accidentally caused some of the people in my workplace a lot of feelings when they saw me walk down the hall. This article made me finally look up her obit, and... yeah, we basically had the same face. Bringing it back to TFA, I was so thrilled that white Lisa got to meet THAT Lisa, because I always wanted to meet the other me. I just didn't know who she was until two months ago, and by then, it was too late.
posted by Ruki at 3:21 PM on April 3, 2017 [7 favorites]

I have a somewhat uncommon last name, there's only a couple of thousand people in the US with it. My first name is middling common, but my middle initial is unusual for a woman. Despite that, and the fact I lived in a county of only 100K people, there was someone with the exact same name and middle initial in the county, and at least once as a teenager I had to pay for a water-ruined book she had apparently dropped in the tub or something. Oh how I resented her!
posted by tavella at 3:39 PM on April 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

Once, I represented on a criminal case a guy named Roy. I searched him in the system, which showed that he was incarcerated somewhere else in the state, and should still have been there serving a sentence. I figured there was a mix-up bc my records had him getting arrested the day before and housed in the county jail. I finally went to the jail to figure out who it was that they were holding there, where Roy stepped out and said he had an identical twin named Royce, who went by Roy for short. Same birthdate, and their social security numbers were all entangled together by a system that most of the time didn't bother to separate apart beyond first and last name and date of birth. Every time I had to argue over his criminal record, I had to make the same argument: no judge, that's his identical twin brother, also named Roy. I think a lot of the prosecutors and judges thought I was doing the old public-defender trick of repeating the same dumb defense our clients feed us ("judge, she says the coke was in the purse when she bought it") for lack of anything better to say, until I started bringing in & comparing mug shots and other documentation to prove it.

When I finally met his mother, the idea that somehow it was a bad idea to name identical twins Roy and Royce seemed like it had honest to god never occurred to her before.
posted by likeatoaster at 3:43 PM on April 3, 2017 [33 favorites]


my name is kirsten. every so often, kristen.mylastname forwards important gmails to me.
posted by changeling at 3:50 PM on April 3, 2017

I have and it's not a hugely common name combination, but sufficiently common.

My is evidently common enough that I got invited to three different holiday parties (in Chicago, IL, in Baltimore, MD and Belfast, Northern Ireland--and fyi, the Baltimore party looked to be the most fun) and a save the date for a wedding (in Opelika, Alabama) this past December. I briefly considered attending all just to see what would happen. The positive/negative of not being a rich person is that I didn't actually go through with it.

I have since been invited to several more events from the Alabama people. I finally wrote and told them they had the wrong Alison and two weeks later I was invited to someone's 70th wedding anniversary down there. Now toying with the possibility that I have a secret family or a double life I don't know about
posted by thivaia at 4:00 PM on April 3, 2017 [4 favorites]

My mom decided to drop her maiden name, rather than her middle name, while my dad decided first born children should be named after their parent. Apparently girls don't get Jr or II, which has given me a lifetime of this.

I think this is part of why privacy isn't a giant concern for me. Instead I want transparency so I can prove to you that you meant an entirely different politikitty born 21 years before me.

My credit report was riddled with errors before I was 18. I would show up to the polls finding my mom's signature scrawled on my entry. Paychecks would sometimes not show up in my checking account. I was once diagnosed peri-menopausal without a blood test.

None of this was malicious. Just poor planning.
posted by politikitty at 4:02 PM on April 3, 2017

There are only about 300 people with my unusual last name in the entire world -- we're all the result of the same spelling error back in Brittany, France, and our New World connection all descend from the same dude in the 1600s -- so I am related to literally all of us, and many of us are connected on LinkedIn and stuff just because. I have a google alert on my last name and I see stuff I do, and stuff my brother does, but also a spokesperson for the Canadian federal ag department, and a high school track star in upstate New York, and every now and then a few French businessmen.

Anyway there are no other "Eyebrows McGee"s but I have "emcgee@google" and there are a few other E. McGees. Over time I have "met" most of them because a relative typed a wrong address or they brain-farted and typed it wrong. emcgee@aol just died recently and I was super-sad because we used to exchange news when I forwarded her missent e-mails from her son-in law. But! I just got train tickets from who turned out to be emcgee94@gmail ... at her school she's emcgee@sorbonne or whatever so forgot to type the 94, and I got her end-of-term train tickets! I found her on facebook and saw she was at school in Paris and from [some small town], which were the same two cities on the ticket, so I was pretty sure it was her and I messaged her, "Bonjour, I think I got your train tickets by mistake!" She was very apologetic, but I am happy to have a new emcgee and look forward to our many years of exchanging periodic e-mails over address confusion.

It's very upsetting that the government can't discriminate amongst people with the same name, though. I would flip the fuck out if I were assigned a bunch of traffic tickets that were NOT MINE!

This is one of my pet peeves in general, government officials or corporations who insist that because the COMPUTER says you're the same person, the entire apparatus of government/contract throws up its hands and can't do anything about it, because the computer is confused and NOBODY CAN OVERRULE THE COMPUTER. This is bad design and should be spanked. I once spent six months in computer hell because my water company was unable to properly clear an incorrect bill. It kept sending me an overdue notice for six cents, I would pay it, it would have already sent the next notice before they processed the last six cents, so it'd send me a new notice threatening to cut off my water over the six cents. One month I sent it twelve cents to cover TWO months of panicked computer overdue notices, and that REALLY flipped it out, and then it kept sending me 12-cent checks and then six-cent overdue notices threatening to cut off my water, and the human staff could see the problem but were unable to stop the computer's death spiral because nobody had the power to overrule its six-cent rage and it was simply not possible to get it to process the six cent payment before it kicked into the next billing cycle.

(Eventually the solution was to have me not pay for three months, enter the 90-days-late payment by hand, cancel all overdue fees, and erase the deliquency from my record, because humans are allowed to do that with a 90-days-overdue bill, but not when the computer is freaking about a six-cent billing error for months on end and you keep trying to pay it. Humans can only intervene when it's "serious.")
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:14 PM on April 3, 2017 [21 favorites]

My brother has a humorous story of a related confusion. My brother, who we shall call MC, has a not-unusual name. He is a physician with a couple of unusual specialties, and was invited some years ago to give a keynote address at a yearly conference. He was thrilled, not least because the conference was in Hawaii, and they were paying for his travel. So he went, and when he registered at the hotel, they said his "friends" were in the bar.

Of course, the guys at the bar were all, "Who the hell are you?!" Because the Dr C the conference staff had intended to invite was 30 years older and far more renowned than my then-30something brother. I can't remember if he ended up giving the keynote, but he hung out with the real Dr. C's friends, and they prank-called the intended speaker after a round of drinks.
posted by suelac at 4:14 PM on April 3, 2017 [17 favorites]

I got pretty dang frustrated about needing to change my bank account password every time I wanted to log in (due to too many failed login attempts) until I changed my username from "NMcCoy" to something more complex and un-namelike.
posted by NMcCoy at 4:25 PM on April 3, 2017

The justice system is terrifying and overwhelming and unresponsive to human need even when they've identified you correctly. But this? This is Kafka.

And the one "solution" that the system could reliably handle was for her to plead guilty. It's almost like she accidentally entered some sort of assembly line for processing minorities, one that she wasn't meant to be exposed to...
posted by clawsoon at 4:28 PM on April 3, 2017 [26 favorites]

There are dozens of people using my email address,, as their own at any given time in half a dozen languages. I ignore most of it, but sometimes when it's a real person trying to get something done I reply to try to set them straight. For a few weeks I was the administrator of an Italian sports team's wordpress site and being asked to approve all the comments, which I rectified right away. I've been signed up for dating sites, job searches...for a time the administrative assistant of a Portuguese biochemist was sending me all his travel reservations and I was forwarding them to him, and he replied with "This is funny !" which struck me as pretty hilariously tone-deaf and entitled coming from someone who was inconveniencing me.

Honestly the only thing that worries me is when I get photo attachments. I do not want pictures of strangers' kids, ever.

NMcCoy, I had to do just the same thing. Added a bunch of numbers on the end :)
posted by potrzebie at 4:29 PM on April 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

The justice system is terrifying and overwhelming and unresponsive to human need even when they've identified you correctly. But this? This is Kafka.

The Georgia DMV is like this in terms of just registering your car and shit like that. When I was a military wife, it had a reputation as one of the worst two in the country. When I had a problem one year and was just apoplectic and finally exclaimed "I was BORN here! What do I have to do to prove I am a Georgia citizen?" the black civil servant I was speaking with walked over to her white boss and blithely lied straight-facedly "She never got her bill."

They charged me a $20 late fee, which I was totally thrilled to pay so I could get my tags up to date and stop driving around illegally. I had driven like a thousand miles from another state to do this in person, all with expired tags, because GA DMV Fuck You.

It was hugely eye opening as to what a normal experience for whites versus blacks is.
posted by Michele in California at 4:39 PM on April 3, 2017 [6 favorites]

He is a physician with a couple of unusual specialties, and was invited some years ago to give a keynote address at a yearly conference. He was thrilled, not least because the conference was in Hawaii, and they were paying for his travel. So he went, and when he registered at the hotel, they said his "friends" were in the bar.

Have you read The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs by Alexander McCall Smith? Because that's pretty much the plot of the book and it's hilarious.
posted by GuyZero at 4:44 PM on April 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

I once received a check issued by the state of Arkansas in my name for some $1200 dollars. I opened the envelope since my name was on it and had lived there for several years previously. Turned out the check was intended for someone who shared my name, but had a different address than mine. Plus there was no reason for Arkansas to be sending such a sum as I had never worked for them or anything like that. I sent the check on back to its rightful recipient. Later I learned from some random website that upwards of 300 people across the U.S. shared my name. Could have used that money, too.
posted by metagnathous at 4:50 PM on April 3, 2017

My real name is uncommon, to say the least, and yet there are a number of other people with the same firstname lastname combination wandering about; a few years back, one of them harassed a well-known conservative, which got my blog some unwelcome attention (luckily, nipped in the bud quickly after a FOR CRYING OUT LOUD THAT IS NOT ME post). More eerily, there was someone in an adjacent profession (English teacher, rather than professor) with the same first name, last name, and middle initial.
posted by thomas j wise at 4:52 PM on April 3, 2017

I really enjoyed the story. And I knew realized as I was reading it - ticket for what? out after curfew, cellphone? I bet Other Lisa is brown. It was a disappointment that that was .. indeed the case.

Other Lisa sounds like an amazing woman, and I am sorry that we have yoked her with a criminal record and a bureaucratic nightmare just because.
posted by Dashy at 5:15 PM on April 3, 2017 [7 favorites]

I'm another firstnamelastname@gmail. Looking back on it, I should have gone with something less generic. My name is common. I get almost as much mail for other people as I do for myself. There are a few elderly people with my name that sign me up for all sorts of mailing lists. Those are easy enough to deal with. But there is a kid in New York that has his bank information sent to me and the bank hasn't corrected it. I once had to go back and forth for a while with a woman to convince her I wasn't her husband. I was on seemingly every new age mailing list in New Mexico until I finally found somebody that fixed it - and kindly offered to let me come visit if I was in the area. Apparently I drive an RV, a Harley, and a Toyota, and simultaneously live in at least eight states, while also living in Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Canada, and Ireland.

I get invited to conferences and meetings. I graduated from a college I've never seen and they contact me constantly. Yesterday I went to the vet with a new pet for the first time - 3000 miles away. Some guy with my name at a fortune 500 company forwarded all of his mail to me.

In some ways it is humorous but it has definitely wasted a lot of my time.
posted by bh at 5:22 PM on April 3, 2017

The part that really made me say WTF is

In 2015, I failed a background check for a new job because, according to the NYPD, I hadn’t paid the ticket “I” had gotten for walking in a park in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn after hours, at 10pm. Now there was a misdemeanor on my record, and I had 60 days to clear it up if I wanted to keep the job

Step into a park at night while non white: You can't get a job. Nice.

Back to the name collision anecdotes, I also have firstname.lastname@gmail and initial.lastname@gmail. Most of the misdirected email I get is of no consequence, but I've gotten some good ones:

Picnic in Argentina.
My namesake is the organizer, he added his real email address AND mine to the mailing list. He argues with me when I ask him to remove my email, says that since it is his name it should be his email. He starts getting aggressive and signs me up for a bunch of spam.

I look up another nice park in the area and email everyone except him to change the venue. I get death threats for ruining his picnic.

Deadbeat father.
I keep getting messages from a primary school in Japan. My namesake is missing parent-teacher meetings and is behind in payments.

I contact the school and they remove my email from their database. The father adds it again. Repeat 5 times.

Now I am getting cell phone bills, hotel bills, and sometimes email from the dude himself trying to email reminders to himself I guess.

An army friend suggest this guy may be military, does some research, and finds someone to talk to at a military base in Japan. I send them a message and forward the emails.

A week later I receive a 1,000 word apology email from the dude. According to my military friend it is pretty unlikely this dude will do this again.

Dog fighting in Oakland
Someone uses my email to register in a classified ad site. I start getting inquiries about some dogs I am apparently selling in Oakland. My wife recognizes the wording as dog fighting related.

I forward emails to Oakland police and give them my info. A few months later someone from the DA office calls me to ask if I am willing to testify on this dog fighting case. Over the phone I explain my only involvement was owning my email address, DA office decides it is not worth the trouble getting me involved.

Medical Equipment Discount
My namesake is the director of the blood lab for a small hospital in Chile. He used my email address to request some quotes. I get quotes from vendors for all kinds of hematology related machines.

I contact the guy and he is very apologetic, but he keeps adding my email address to the cc list while he is negotiating with the vendors.

At one point a vendor makes an offer, $120,000. Because I am bored and now think the blood lab director is an idiot I reply "Is that your final price? It is too high". I keep doing the same until the price is down to $93,000.

I have a standing offer for free blood-work if I ever need it in Southern Chile.
posted by Dr. Curare at 5:30 PM on April 3, 2017 [55 favorites]

This was a great story, thanks for posting. As a Matt Brown, it really resonated. Most of the crossed-wires I receive are pretty mundane; trivial work emails, receipts, etc. Every once in a while I'll get something spicier or more sensitive involving romantic travails or employment difficulties or bank details or what have you. A few weeks ago I randomly got some Australian teenager's resume, and even though it obviously wasn't intended for me it was so badly put together that I ended up editing it for him anyway. Modern life is strange.
posted by saladin at 5:43 PM on April 3, 2017 [10 favorites]

Since my last comment I have received someone's ebank transfer data, another cruise ship confirmation, a sign up to a streaming/broadcasting service and Snapchat sign up confirmation.

At this point I strongly feel that any commercial service from an auto repair chain, store receipt rewards or whatever should be legally mandated to require both a properly signed confirmation reply as well as an obvious and easy to use "No, I did not sign up for this. Please remove my email account from your service." button.

Don't get me started about Facebook.
posted by loquacious at 6:03 PM on April 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have a name double somewhere in England. I got an electronic receipt from a mattress store one time.

My wife has a name double who lives about 30 minutes away. My wife worked in child development, her double murdered her baby.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 6:36 PM on April 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

I once received a deposit in my bank account that was intended for another account-holder of the same name. Luckily for both of us I am not the kind of person who would think that meant "hey, free money!" and caught it within a day of it happening.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:36 PM on April 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

This was a fascinating article -- thank you for sharing it!

I've never met any of my same-namers, and I don't think I have a particularly popular name, but there are THREE of us -- with varied spellings but different birthdates -- at my gynecologist's office alone.

And when I left a job a few years ago, one of the candidates who was interviewed to replace me was, guess what, AlmostMyFirstNameMyLastName. That was a weird one (and I don't think she got the job).

I highly recommend Alan Berliner's movie The Sweetest Sound, in which he gets together with a bunch of other Alan Berliners to talk about names, life, and mortality.
posted by vickyverky at 7:24 PM on April 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

I hate my idiot name twins who keep using my email address instead of theirs; there's one in Texas who keeps signing me up for QVC shopping, and one in the UK who signs me up for everything--in particular, I keep getting updates for afterschool programs for her (grand?)kids, and even some receipts for travel (I was sooo tempted to try to cancel her hotel reservation once). The latest is I've been getting a back and forth from her and the BBC, where she wrote in to complain about something in a tv drama they aired that offended her... Sigh.
posted by TwoStride at 8:19 PM on April 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you can find it, Are You Dave Gorman? Is hilarious. Comedian Dave Gorman meets a great many Dave Gormans, including one who is a dog!
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:22 PM on April 3, 2017

I have and it's not a hugely common name combination, but sufficiently common.

I also have a address, which occasionally gets emails to a few people who aren't me—a pastor, a member of the military, and someone who runs a youth soccer league. Based on looking people up based on job/life details from the emails (or, in one case, an attached resume), I'm pretty sure that the issue in each case is that they each have (for different values of m), but write it as, which can easily be misread as, especially by people who know that they are emailing someone named First Last.

Please, people, put those periods in your gmail addresses! It (now) doesn't change who gets the emails, but some separators really help make things readable!
posted by JiBB at 8:53 PM on April 3, 2017

I have a foreign name uncommon in the US, but my wife has the (apparently very desirable?) email address from way back when. We know all about her doppelgangers' vacation photos on Picasa, attempts to sign up for Snapchat and Facebook, their picnic planning meetings, their hematology appointments ... And her iCloud account gets locked once a week on average from people trying to claim it, which is a ridiculous denial-of-service attack, because there's a cascading chain of failures if your primary iCloud account gets locked.

I have 2-factor authentication on it, and we'll get a stream of password reset texts alternately to my phone and her phone, and yeah, it's probably Firstname Stein or Firstname Calhoun trying to break in again. Don't they see that it's not even the last few digits of their phone number? Are they hoping to guess the 32-character recovery phrase and the 4-digit pin in the text message?

Anyway, she'll probably have to give up her account just because of the denial-of-service attacks.
posted by RedOrGreen at 9:18 PM on April 3, 2017

If you can find it, Are You Dave Gorman? Is hilarious. Comedian Dave Gorman meets a great many Dave Gormans, including one who is a dog!

I saw this fantastic off-off-Broadway show once (I even reviewed it) by a guy who spelled his name VERY similarly to Josh Holloway from Lost, and found himself getting unusually popular when the show was getting going.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:20 PM on April 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have the email address and there is an assisted living facility in America somewhere that sends me regular updates about my 'relative' (not my relative), to the extent that it contains information about his medications, bowel movements, socialisation activities, and prognoses. They sometimes also send private financial information. I also get invites from them to events and activities they run for family members. I have replied multiple times telling them I am no relation to this person, that they have the wrong email address, and that they are probably violating all sorts of medical confidentiality laws by continuing to email me, but no luck.

I just don't understand how the person's actual relatives don't realise they aren't getting those updates. It's kind of sad to imagine.
posted by lollusc at 10:07 PM on April 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

My name twin and I went to the same doctor and pharmacy. I had to sign in with my SSN.

This was egregiously inconvenient the week both Unicorns were in car accidents.

My married name is unique -- no other found yet to date online or IRL. We also do the Google alert thing and I've seen it pop up 3 times in 9 years.

So weird to go from doppelgängster to unique just like that!
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:12 PM on April 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have a different but related issue. I own a domain which I use for my email. I create a new email for each business etc. I communicate with. The domain name is one character off from a Hollywood agency, a movie production company, and a Hollywood attorney. I receive emails for any name @ my

From time to time I get requests for SAG credentials for an actor or for model releases. I've been signed up for several "what's happening in the movie biz" newsletters, one of which I kept because it's interesting to see what's coming.

The oddest thing I've received was a mistype to the attorney. It was a list of the substantial number of properties owned by Bob Hope shortly after he died. He invested quite well.
posted by Warren Terra at 10:25 PM on April 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have a simple gmail address (see mefi profile). If I get your emails, not only will I report them as spam, but for social media accounts I will reset your password and takeover the account. I do this because it's the most effective way to stop the emails.
posted by ryanrs at 11:41 PM on April 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

The obvious solution to all this would be to assign a GUID to every baby at birth.
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:18 AM on April 4, 2017

I scanned the comment thread and didn't see anything mentioned about how the states I have gotten driving licenses in (NM, AZ, WA) have individual identification numbers on the licenses! It used to be standard for checkout clerks to write this number down on checks as part of buying things!

I mean, does NY state NOT have license numbers on driver's licenses? If they do, how can this kind of mix-up happen? Or am I missing something about what cops actually do when they "go run your license"? I assumed it involved using that unique identifier for that specific license.
posted by hippybear at 2:02 AM on April 4, 2017 [3 favorites]

Oh and the confirmation for a week at an incredibly beautiful spa at Iceland hot springs just killed that it was for one of the other "sam's".
posted by sammyo at 3:49 AM on April 4, 2017

I mean, does NY state NOT have license numbers on driver's licenses? If they do, how can this kind of mix-up happen?

They do, but a lot of people don't carry their licenses. Some people tell cops they don't have them in hopes the situation will go away (maybe even in just this way). And a surprising number of NYC residents don't have driver's licenses.
posted by Etrigan at 4:11 AM on April 4, 2017

I have and it's not a hugely common name combination, but sufficiently common.

Rings a bell here too.

According to the census of 2007 there are only 147 people in the Netherlands with my family name. One other guy has the same first name as me, but I was first claiming my (our) full name at google.
He is very remote family, I think the (half?) brother of my great-grand father is his (great-) great-grand-father. This brother moved away to another part of the country so I never met any of his descendants.

So, although I never met the guy, sometimes I sometimes get gmail destined for him (he is some kind of teacher or so). Every time I will send back a mail that they have the wrong Rob.

On a side note: my last name is the name of a farm that existed about 200 years ago. In that time the people living on a farm took the name of the farm. At that time Napoleon had occupied the Netherlands and in 1811 all Dutch citizens had to be registered to get a 'proper' name. Since it is a very unusual name it was easy for me to search and find genealogical data.
I do not mention my last name here, because you would directly be able to find me (or him).
posted by RobHoi at 5:03 AM on April 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

“How are you managing your heroin addiction, Mr R.?” was something my brother didn't expect to hear from his new doctor after moving for work. Seems that in reshelving medical files, my brother's opioid-enjoying namesake's records ended up in my brother's folder.
posted by scruss at 5:06 AM on April 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

This is one reason why I took a Gmail id something like "yourmothershavesbadgers". I am considering it as a legal surname but expect pushback from my local DMV.
posted by delfin at 5:42 AM on April 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

I had an uncommon, but not rare, maiden name (according to some website there are 12K people in the US with that last name). When I was in college, apparently there was another Liz Lastname who not only went to the same college as me, but also lived in the same apartment complex! The apartments thought they were being smart when they listed me in the call box as Liz L. and her as Lastname L, which meant her name appeared waaaay before mine did. I didn't find any of this out until some friends were coming to visit and not going to get in until like 4am. I said to call me on the box and that will wake me up to let them in. Cue me waking up to my friends banging on the door wondering why I wasn't awake. Turns out they had selected her in the box and she let them in! It was later I realized that I never really got calls from the box, I always assumed my friends piggybacked on someone else. Turns out she had been letting all these people in all the time!

I'm now in a situation where I work with another Liz LastInitial. She used to be in a different department but has since transferred to my team and sits right next to me. It's taken a bit of getting used to but now when someone comes by and says "Liz" neither of us answer until we get a last name.
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:49 AM on April 4, 2017

I worked as a freelance French-English translator for a while. I was eventually hired by a client; at the beginning they would tease me about being a dictionary.

One day a woman with the same name as me got in touch and mentioned that she's in charge of one of the big-name French-English dictionaries. We had a copy in our offices, so I opened it up to the credits, pointed at "my" name and nodded meaningfully. Our managers got a kick out of it.

The only other mixup I've had was similarly nice, a woman with my name who had reserved a lovely trip in New Zealand and had it sent to my Gmail address. Got it straightened out for her. But now really want to go on a long hike across New Zealand.
posted by fraula at 7:19 AM on April 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

I haven't had any real email trouble, but I learned recently that there's an up-and-coming female singer with my exact first and last name. I am also a singer. There have been congratulatory Facebook posts and everything, and it's sad to correct them.

Also a main character in a Beverly Cleary book has my exact first name and maiden name, which caused much hilarity when I was a kid.
posted by altopower at 7:32 AM on April 4, 2017

I get a ton of the firstname.lastname@gmail stuff, and I mostly ignore it but do try and correct people for the important things like lease applications, legal bills, repeated plaintive emails from mother. Many of them initially insist that they are sending email to the correct person despite me telling them otherwise, and frequently then go on to ask me for their person's correct email address. With the lease application, after hitting a wall with the original sender, I was able to google up the landlord and sent it along to him, and he was grateful.

One guy keeps signing up for dodgy hookup sites and at least three of these sites have sent me his username and password together in plain text in the same email. I think he is also responsible for me getting a lot of emails directly from individuals that include photos of women in suggestive poses seeking further communication.

Finally, it is surprising that even some big companies that you'd expect to have their act together (American Express) will send important information without verifying ownership of the email address.
posted by exogenous at 8:53 AM on April 4, 2017

There's a Don Pepino whose mother attends the birthday parties of that Don Pepino's daughter. The mother included me in the e-mail list for ten pictures of the entirely hand-done minions-themed birthday party when the child turned four. All the four-year-olds had little paper minions goggles to wear that, according to the grandmother when I wrote to thank her and explain the mixup, the child's talented teenaged sister had cut from posterboard and painted and glittered. There were minions cake pops AND a minions cake and a "pin the goggles on the minion" game and various minion-themed signage, all of it handmade, all gorgeous. It was possibly the most wistful I've felt so far as a gmail Don Pepino.
posted by Don Pepino at 9:37 AM on April 4, 2017

This makes having a last name that sounds like a first and last name seem tame in comparison. I just couldn't even deal with any of what y'all are talking about.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:59 AM on April 4, 2017

This makes having a last name that sounds like a first and last name seem tame in comparison.

Oh yeah I have that too. And yeah, I think having email-illiterate doppelgangers is worse.
posted by GuyZero at 11:05 AM on April 4, 2017

I have a weird first name, weird maiden name and weird married name. That has problems of its own, most of them basically social in nature, not legal. This is why I go by my least weird name, my middle name: Michele (with one L). So, this is absolutely not a problem I typically have. I typically have completely different problems.

But, in going by Michele at my job at BigCo and getting them to kindly label my cubicle with Michele LastName, I eventually ended up on a team where my boss was also named Michele (with one L) and her boss had a name that sounded exactly like ours, only spelled different. At that point, I asked them to go back to the standard FirstName LastName label for my cubicle.

This thread is making me downright grateful for the trials and tribulations of my weird ass names. I can readily opt out of being a doppelganger on the rare occasions when that happens socially.
posted by Michele in California at 1:29 PM on April 4, 2017

My brother and I share the same initials, are aged a couple of years apart and born in different months. But we were born in the same city and lived together for a couple of years out of college. Fortunately, neither of us have had to worry about legal issues, but periodically the credit reporting agencies decide we're the same person and merge our reports causing all sorts of havoc and we take a couple of months of calls and letter writing to sort it out.

P.S. - Michele in California...For a time I was dating two Michel(l)es, and people would joke how did I tell them apart. Easy...there was One-L-Michele and there was Two-L-Michelle. Which was what my friends called them, because my friends are kinda jerks sometimes. I ended up marrying one of them.
posted by kjs3 at 3:52 PM on April 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Back when I joined Facebook, facebook was a new thing. I'm still friended with someone with the same first and last name from another college (because college membership was relevant originally). I occasionally remember to give him a happy birthday, but I don't think we've ever been confused.
posted by gryftir at 5:57 PM on April 4, 2017

Several years ago, I was attracted to someone I met in a writers' workshop, and since I was incapable of saying such words with my mouth, I added him on Facebook. Surprisingly, on Facebook he seemed a lot dumber and a lot more interested in fishing. It took me several days to realize that I had added the wrong person, who happened to look a lot like him as well as having his name, and even longer to unfriend that person, because I didn't want to be rude.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:19 PM on April 4, 2017 [4 favorites]

I think he is also responsible for me getting a lot of emails directly from individuals that include photos of women in suggestive poses seeking further communication.

Exogenous, I think everyone gets those...
posted by yohko at 6:22 PM on April 4, 2017

I got a call today from the property mangers handling my application for a new apartment. The initial application had my name, address, and SSN. She was calling because they needed my middle name for further differentiation. After she asked for that, I quickly pointed out that my name is incredibly common and sometimes other people's credit dings were listed on my credit report. She sounded skeptical. Luckily the application was approved anyway. It hasn't always been that easy.

These errors have real word consequences, as my fellow Lisa eloquently wrote in the FPP. Email's a problem, sure, but I've gotten lawyers' threats to sue me, had to put down a large deposit for my electricity because my credit report was damaged, and watched necessary credit card offers get withdrawn because of someone else's mistakes. That's just the civil side of things--this woman is dealing with the criminal side. Our governments need to do better with this sort of thing.
posted by librarylis at 9:13 PM on April 4, 2017 [3 favorites]

What are the chances that two of us would go to the same college at the same time?

Could be worse.

I, Obi W Wasabi applied to transfer to a university at the same time a different Obi W Wasabi also applied to transfer to the same university. When I called the automated answering service to find out if I was successful I got something like 'your application was...error, please try again'.

'Yeah we were sorting a list or something and you were in there twice so we just kept the latest record.

'Do we have the same date of birth? Or the same address?'

'No we thought that was weird but you have the same middle initial so it all checked out.'


'Better luck next time!'
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:35 PM on April 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

I think he is also responsible for me getting a lot of emails directly from individuals that include photos of women in suggestive poses seeking further communication.

Exogenous, I think everyone gets those...

Well, now I don't feel so special.
posted by bongo_x at 11:32 AM on April 8, 2017

I literally don't understand all these people who give out the wrong email address. How do you not know your own email address? Is someone getting all their phone calls and physical mail too? I understand how a sender could mistype it (AFABulos vs AFABulous) but not how the owner could repeatedly do that. In any case, my email is mr.firstname.lastname and the "mr." part seems to have solved that problem because I never get anyone else's mail.

I changed my name in late 2015 and it took nearly a year for the credit reporting agencies to straighten it all out. I got a court summons for OldName and I panicked until I saw that the court system had assumed we were the same person and filed a change of address for her [to my address]. I still get mail for OldName that's actually intended for me. So, Lisa Davis changing her name probably wouldn't have helped all that much. Lisa NewName would still be linked to Lisa Davis in government systems.

My new name is the same as a convicted child molester who lives an hour away. (Protip: always google first.) Thank god we don't have the same birthdate.
posted by AFABulous at 4:17 PM on April 10, 2017

Exogenous, I think everyone gets those...

Yeah, yeah... the emails I'm talking about weren't the random crap that I sometimes get at my Ye Olde Yahoo email. The attachments were mostly photos of fairly regular looking women and they would come in bursts a few times a year. One time several different emails mentioned the same weird specific thing, as in "I too am interested in ____" (I forget what it was). I think some bozo must have published my email address on some corner of the internet as someone interested in connecting this way.

More interesting, I wonder if the mom who clung to the notion that I was her son ever reached him. An excerpt: "You will agree with me that your marriage was 100%your own choice only. IN this, we have not committed any crime other than fully co-operating and conducting your marriage well . Going to Delhi, under whatever may be the circumstances, was yours and your wife's choice. From the inception, whenever any discord was reported in your marriage, I suggested to both of you to go for marriage counseling. But u both conveniently neglected my suggestion. The rest is history...!"
posted by exogenous at 6:10 AM on April 11, 2017

I literally don't understand all these people who give out the wrong email address. How do you not know your own email address?

In the case of the person who most often gives out my email address, it's because they have my name at yahoo, but my name plus one letter at gmail. and they forget which one they're using, so every now and then I get signed up for an email list in a foreign language and I forward it to one of those other ones that I know is right.

The people I don't know I figure just mis-fingered a couple of letters around and didn't bother checking it because, hell, people make mistakes all the time.
posted by Etrigan at 8:33 AM on April 11, 2017

I have a not at all common last name and have as my email address which has revealed to me that a) my name is not as uncommon as I used to think and b) it's definitely more common in Poland because I get a decent amount of misdirected emails in Polish.

There's also a realtor in Virginia Beach who has (my email) and I get misdirected stuff for her all the time that looks really important, like documents for mortgages and stuff. I just forward it along and she always thanks me.

Oh and apparently SiriusXM wants me to confirm the email address associated with my account, which is of course not my account.
posted by zempf at 9:48 AM on April 11, 2017

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