I've had a gmail account pretty much since they started their beta in 2004, and am very proud that I managed to get the address I wanted since it was the early days and I really like the features over hotmail, not least the very powerful spam handling capabilities.
Anyway I was quite surprised when other friends also went onto Gmail that they were not getting the enormous spam volumes I seemed to be getting - maybe the odd one sent to a random address, not a massive onslaught of daily spam. For a while I coulnd't figure out why.
Now as some of you probably know, there are numerous unscrupulous websites, including some running apps on Facebook and other social networking sites, that do sell on their harvested email addresses. We know that is the nature of those occasional sites you can't use without signing up to somewhere. Anyway, I noticed something when I started browsing the mails.
Most of them - hundreds every month, appeared to be addressed to one "Aida Allen" of "44378 katie ct", somewhere in rural Texas.
Currently with the estimated equity on 44378 katie ct, your current loan and credit history, you are looking at a potentially sizable cash out and payment reduction.
You can maximize your savings by locking in the low rates today."
At this stage I've no shame in publishing this dumb woman's full address, since she has caused my gmail inbox to be bombarded by thousands of spam mails over several years. Anyway, I finally managed to somehow spot one personal mail that appeared to have her correct email and mailed her telling her that she'd probably but the wrong email in somewhere, and I've been getting her stuff for years. Well you'd have thought the woman would be embarrassed and just fix it but no. I got a response telling me that "firstname.lastname@example.org" was her email address for years. I patiently explained that it couldn't be, as she couldn't possibly even log into it (I use the most intricate of passwords and change them regularly). Sure enough, within a day, there was the telltale password change requests as she'd obviously tried to logon to my account and failed.
So I mailed her patiently again, and explained that I had received password change notifications, and sorry, but this is my account. Then she tried to tell me she'd had this account for "years" and would Laura mind compromising?
At that point I just deleted her mail and ignored it, it was going nowhere. Anyway, the spam assault continues, and I seem to have acquired new dumbos who think they've got this account. About once every 2 months I get a password change email from one of these stupid girls who think they've an account they could never have. Google support has been ok - not great. They figure that the users may have at one point registered a similar address and forgotten the exact details, but there isn't much they can do. I get facebook, linked in, other account opening details for these dumb women. I even get genuine online banking stuff (not spam) - which is rather scary as there is no way the adderss could have been confirmed - if somebody tries to open any account using my address my first response is always to shut it immediately - sorry but you can't use my personal email account for your Facebook. Tough.
Lastly, my favourite one, was the lady who sent a sex shop order using my account. I really needed to know that Mrs Pat Bent of Evanston, IL, felt a need for a "cycber bunny" and a "cinammon cyber cock vibe." Charming. But if you insist on putting somebody elses email address on your orders, well you get what you deserve (and I'll get YEARS of your blasted spam). I've even received somebodies login for the LA Times, which I have to say might have been rather useful - I did actually mail them and say, look, this isn't something I ordered, somebodies put their address in wrong.
Otherwise EVERYTHING is marked as spam or deleted.
What does worry me, however, is the risk that someday, some distant outsourced support person might unwittingly pass my password onto one of these dumb people and then I'm out of the picture. It is a real fear. Hence why I also buy an email address with one of my domains - now nobody can touch that.