I have a big issue and don’t know who to address.
I have a Hotmail account and recently, more by accident, found out that there is another user in a different country with the same hotmail id and I am actually getting e-mails from her so I am sure she’s getting some of mine.
I found out by trying to reset my apple id and when I got an e-mail from apple to reset my password, the e-mail kept arriving in French (which seemed odd). After being able to reset the password at apple I took a look at my apple account and hey, this wasn’t my account but instead from some woman in Belgium. All her info was visible incl. credit card number etc. – pretty scary. Naturally I didn’t touch anything and opened a new e-mail account with gmail but I’ve called hotmail on this and just keep getting pretty lame excuses (such as “Oh, this never happened before – let us advise you on how to create an alias).
I found your website and I have hopes you have an answer or rather suggestion on how to deal with this. The lame customer service at Hotmail tempts me to go public with this and expose this because I am very sure this isn’t the first time. Any suggestions?
Be very careful when typing in your email address. Always.
My guess here is that you don’t in fact have the same Hotmail “id” as someone else. They’re just very, very similar, in a way that you might not realize.
Not everyone is .com
There’s a very, very subtle difference that can happen in email addresses, and I do see confusion about it from time to time.
It’s simply this:
are two different email addresses that belong to two completely different accounts. (“somerandomservice” is, of course, just an example. This actually applies to any email account on any domain, and is most common with the free email services from large providers like Microsoft and Yahoo!.)
The “.com” domain is the account that we think of most often, probably because “.com” is the default for users in the U.S., and is perhaps most desirable around the world.
Somerandomservice.be indicates the account is associated with the “somerandomservice” presence in Belgium.
And that’s completely separate.
Getting those “other” domains
It’s actually not that easy to get an account with a top level domain other than the default for your location.
The most common request I get is someone from another country, say India, with an @somerandomservice.in email address, looking to get that same email address on the somerandomservice.com domain. Unfortunately someone else typically has taken the .com name already – because somerandomservice.com and somerandomservice.in are separate domains, and separate services.
It’s actually difficult these days to even try to get that other domain, since most services – at least the ones I tried – will redirect you to the service that is most appropriate for your location. I keep getting redirected to the “.com” versions of these services. (Theoretically it would be possible to use a proxy service with a presence in the target area to trick the service into believing that you’re also in that area.)
So there’s a very good chance that your email address on a “.com” domain for any of the free services may in fact be used by someone else on a foreign country’s domain. Or it might not be in use at all.
The most important thing to realize, though, is that it’s not you.
Getting those “other” domains confused
Here’s what I think is happening:
You probably have firstname.lastname@example.org. This other woman has email@example.com. The same “emailaddress” part, the same “hotmail” part, but different top level domains: “.com” versus “.be”.
Those are two separate and unrelated accounts, as we’ve seen.
My guess is that the other woman is occasionally forgetting and typing “hotmail.com” as part of her email address.
In other words, she’s typing in your email address and as a result, you’re getting the email.
Resolving the confusion
This is often difficult to resolve.
But as we’ve seen with other typographically similar yet different email addresses, there sometimes are ways to do so.
You can send an email explaining the situation to the other email address. Make sure to enter the other one, and not your own.
You could reply to the sender indicating the error, or what you believe to be the error.
Since you have the other contact information for this woman in Belgium, you could call her, or write a physical letter to her explaining the situation.
You can also ignore the situation. Given that this other person is not getting emails that she expects – and it sounds like some of them are important – it’s very likely that she’ll end up needing to correct the error on her own.