Why it might be a good idea to drop your Gmail account.
Google’s Gmail seems to have a serious problem in distinguishing similar emails. In full disclosure, this is something I accidentally stumbled upon with my own account. The issue stems from a “.” that sits comfortably in the center of my Gmail address. To be specific, a “.” that exists in mine but not in someone else’s that has the same address. As an example let’s say my name is John Doe, well there is someone in England that also has the name John Doe, and like me he uses his name in a Gmail account. My address uses a “.” in between the first and the last name, like so: “firstname.lastname@example.org” while the user in England has no “.” at all, like this: “email@example.com”. So yes, they’re similar.
The issue that has come out of all this is that Google can’t seem to see or determine the difference between the two addresses. This is a problem because I have been receiving a LOT of financial information for the poor guy in England who has the awesome name of John Doe! In fact, I’m now in a position to control not one, but two of his credit cards. Fortunately for me, I don’t use Gmail for ANYTHING that would require ANY form of security. Because I don’t appreciate them scanning my emails for… whatever reasons.
Now, as a good citizen, I’ve filled out several bug reports with Google. But have yet to receive any indication from them that they are working on the issue, or have even read my reports. This leaves me with no alternative than to discuss the issue in open forum. I have however contacted the financial institutions that were involved and they have been receptive to the issue and have worked with me in determining where the issue lies. Their systems have the correct email address, and we’ve figured that it has to be within Google’s systems. How exactly we’re not sure? Could be a bug in Gmails services from the U.K. or it could be something else? Never the less, the problem remains. Gmail is sending me someone else’s email.
While this is a pretty isolated and (hopefully) rare case, it doesn’t change the fact that Google has a problem with similar email addresses. So, the simple advice here is to; A. Not use gmail. B. Not use your real name which could be similar to others. And C. Not use unsecure email for important accounts.