Receiving someone else's mail
There are three common reasons why Gmail users think they're receiving someone else's mail. Please select the description that matches your situation below.Your address is similar but has more or fewer dots (.) or different capitalization.
Sometimes you may receive a message sent to an address that looks like yours but has a different number or arrangement of periods. While we know it might be unnerving if you think someone else's mail is being routed to your account, don't worry: both of these addresses are yours.
Gmail doesn't recognize dots as characters within usernames, you can add or remove the dots from a Gmail address without changing the actual destination address; they'll all go to your inbox, and only yours. In short:
- email@example.com = firstname.lastname@example.org
- email@example.com = HOMERJSIMPSON@gmail.com
- firstname.lastname@example.org = Homer.J.Simpson@gmail.com
All these addresses belong to the same person. You can see this if you try to sign in with your username, but adding or removing a dot from it. You'll still go to your account.
If you get mail that seems to be intended for someone else, it's likely that the sender entered the wrong address, just like if you've ever dialed a wrong phone number for someone. In these cases, we suggest contacting the original sender or website when possible to alert them to the mistake.
One last thing: Google Apps does recognize dots. If you'd like to have a dot in your username, please ask your domain administrator to add your preferred username as a nickname.
If you don't see your email address in the To: or Cc: fields of the header, the sender has probably mailed you a 'blind carbon copy,' or Bcc:. The Bcc: field isn't displayed in the header of received messages. This means that you won't see your email address at the top of any message you receive as a blind carbon copy.
If you're receiving lots of messages addressed to another Gmail user, another possibility is that someone else has accidentally configured their account to automatically forward mail to you. To see if this is the case, open the full message headers: click the down arrow next to Reply (or More options in Safari), and select Show original. Starting at the top, look for X-Forwarded-For. If you see X-Forwarded-For, then another Gmail user is forwarding mail to your address, and we recommend contacting them to inform them of the mistake. Please note that there won't be any X-Forwarded-For information in the headers if the mail was autoforwarded from a non-Gmail account.
Also, if you're receiving messages sent to your username @googlemail.com, don't be concerned. email@example.com is the same as firstname.lastname@example.org, too; googlemail.com is Google's email domain for users in the United Kingdom and Germany, so if you register your username @gmail.com, it becomes unavailable in @googlemail.com as well.
The message you received was probably the result of a common practice among spammers called 'dictionary spamming.' Dictionary spammers often use a software application to randomly guess email addresses based on words in the dictionary.
Spammers use these lists of addresses to send mass mailings. If you don't see your address in the 'To:' or 'Cc:' fields of the message, that means you've been sent a blind carbon copy of the spam (your address was entered in the 'Bcc:'.field).
As always, we ask that you help us stop spammers by reporting all spam you receive in your inbox. Just check the box next to the unwanted mail and click 'Report Spam.'
Vivian is a Gmail expert and the author of this help page. Leave her feedback about this help page.