How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask John T. F. Your Own Question
John T. F.
John T. F., Mac Druid
Category: Email
Satisfied Customers: 3022
Experience:  Setting up and servicing Email accounts since 1994!
60674955
Type Your Email Question Here...
John T. F. is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Over the past few months my e-mail address has appeared in

Customer Question

Over the past few months my e-mail address has appeared in two other peoples' profiles. I discovered this when I started getting their e-mail notifications. One of these people is a customer at BMO Harris, a bank in the Midwestern USA and the other is a customer at TalkTalk Broadband, a telecommunications provider in London, England. Both of these strangers have the same first name as I do. Other than that, there is no other connection. I have had my e-mail address since Google began offering Gmail. Other than deleting my e-mail address which would cause obvious problems, any ideas? Google is not answering me so they are useless. My only hope is that the financial institution will get some answers if they are smart enough to see their potential exposure to fraud.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Email
Expert:  John T. F. replied 1 year ago.

Hi,

unless you've actually confirmed the account exists with the institutions mentioned then these emails are probably phishing schemes. Since it doesn't sound like your email address has been compromised then the other party can not actually use it to create and verify accounts on third party sites as all email would go to you when they attempt to sign up.

More likely, a spammer (or, even, a virus on one of your friend's Windows computers) is merely using your email address in an act of obfuscation. They "inject" your email address into the headers of the spam they are sending in order to hide the true sender of the email in order to trick other users into providing info about themselves. In this case you should not click on any links contained within the emails or respond to them in any way.

Eventually, the emails should cease (if they haven't already) as they move on to using another email address or the virus is cleared.

Also, it's important to note that you should not give up your email address. This happens on a regular basis and the annoyance is, sadly, part and parcel with having an email address.

John

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I too thought it might be some phishing scam so the first thing I did was research the companies in question. They are both legit. I do have a virus on my work computer and I do open my email at work. That may or may not be related but I thought I should at least mention this. Since no one has asked me for any personal information as a result of this situation and this doesn't seem to be directed toward me I am at a loss to see the objective behind this violation. Perhaps this is directed at the "senders" of the e-mail like BMO Harris, the bank. I don't know, maybe it's just a hacker joke that is harmless. I guess I should start migrating everyone over to a new e-mail address so I don't have to do it if it all comes crashing down. Would you say gmail is safe or is apple cloud email safer because I have an apple email I can use? By the way, what does "obfuscation" mean?
Expert:  John T. F. replied 1 year ago.

Hi again,

yes in most cases the businesses themselves are legit but not the actual, true senders of the emails in question. This is how people are fooled; they seem to originate from normal companies and may be directly addressed to your email address or name. Often, however, one or more links within the email itself don't direct to the actual company website but to another fake website or email address that exists purely to gather info about you when you visit the site or attempt to contact them, fill in any forms, etc... Even an image, when loaded in an email, may tell the sending server information such as your IP address when it's requested.

My preference is for iCloud email over gmail, just for the ease of use as I have multiple Apple devices. However, again unless you think someone has directly hacked into your account, your email has not actually been effected. you could move to a new address but may end up getting similar messages in the future.

If you haven't changed your email password ***** a while, you may wish to consider it.

You can check how "strong" a password ***** ***** using the following site:

https://howsecureismypassword.net

Note: it's okay to enter the password ***** the above site as it is not asking for details of any account. It merely looks at the string you enter as a password. You can use it to test certain potential passwords and then modify it for use in the actual account by just changing a letter or two.

John

Expert:  John T. F. replied 1 year ago.

Oh and "obfuscation" essentially means to make something intentionally ambiguous or misleading...

John

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I need to apologize. I called "Just Answer" because I thought you hadn't understood my original question but it looks like you did. So I hope there aren't any ramifications for you over my frustration with this issue. To be honest it's making me a little crazy. Please forgive me. Anyway.....so what you're saying is that even though both the legit companies as well as myself are all uninvolved in this process, someone is using my email to get information. But the part I don't understand is how. Did they insert a Trojan horse into my computer to mine for data? That's where I'm losing you. And are you absolutely certain that phishing is all that's going on here? Both email addresses that were replaced by my email address at both of these companies are owned by people with the same first name as mine. Isn't that odd?
Expert:  John T. F. replied 1 year ago.

Ok, there shouldn't be any ramifications but when we are finished, perhaps you might call and update them on your standing with our conversation. I am not an employee of JustAnswer and so am only credited (and judged) based on positive ratings here and feedback elsewhere.

Yes, what I am saying exactly is that you and the mentioned companies are not directly involved. The phishing party/scammer just uses them to their advantage, as a means to an end.

They do not have to insert any software on your own computer for this. If a friend of yours had their computer infected by a virus or other piece of malware, it may have harvested your email address and name from their address book. If you've ever entered your name and email address on a less than ethical website that later sold your email address to "Advertisers" they may have gotten it that way.

Think of it as a real letter and envelope sent through the post office. It may contain the business name on the return address and can certainly include your street address even though the unknown sender has never been in your house or had anything to do with the business it pretends to originate from...

As far as the other "people" having the same first name, this is likely not an accident and it's also just as likely that they are as "fake" as everything else.

I've received similar email myself, both from sites that I do NOT have an account with and those that I do, that were also phishing expeditions. The data mining happens when you start clicking on links and/or images within the emails as all or some may not lead to where they appear to go, or may send you through an intermediate site to capture browser data before you get there, etc...

Again, I would recommend not interacting with the emails in any way and disposing of them completely. These are not emails of note or unusual UNLESS you see other signs that you are being intruded upon in some way.

John

Related Email Questions