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How a dot invaded dweinberger’s privacy

Yesterday I started getting a stream of receipts from Amazon for goods I had not purchased. Mainly they were free games and apps so I only freaked out to 70% of maximum.

I changed my Amazon password and checked my credit cards just in case one of the purchases — there were dozens — was not free. All seemed in order.

The receipts cheerily exposed the person’s name to me, thanking “Dixxon Weinberger” for the $0.00 purchase. (I have changed Dixxon’s name because judging from the receipts and from the Facebook page I found under that name, he’s probably a minor.)

Because Dixxon’s name is spelled in an unusual way, I think I found the right Facebook page for him. It looks like an account he doesn’t check. But just in case, I left him a carefully written, friendly note suggesting that he clear up his email address at Amazon. The first thing I said in the message is that he should probably show this note to his parents. I did my best not to sound like an Internet creep, but it turns out that the harder you try, the creepier you sound. So I kept it to a minimum.

Then my son figured out what happened.

I own the email address dweinbergergmail.com. I use it as my backup email in case my primary one (davidweinberger.org) breaks. It turns out that Gmail ignores dots in your name. So, dwe.inbergergmail.com will reach me, as will dweinb.ergergmail.com. I’m sure there’s a good reason for this but I don’t really get why Gmail would so restrict its namespace. Anyway.

Dixxon apparently signed up at Amazon under d.weinbergergmail.com, so all his mail from Amazon (and now from other places he’s signed up at) are coming to me. I am filing them without reading them because I don’t want to know what this kid is downloading, but it seems like a pretty big flaw that Amazon let someone sign up without sending an email requiring confirmation.

Let me now put this in the past tense: I just spent 20 mins on the phone with Amazon support. The support person was very patient. They have closed the d.weinberger account. The poor kid isn’t going to know why because the explanation will go to an address that ends up in my inbox.

Sorry, Dixxon! It’s better this way. And, Amazon, maybe do better at sending confirmation emails.

Of course it’s likely that I mistakenly/absently clicked some confirmation email, although I have no record or recollection of doing so. Nevertheless, I’ve learned that 97% of the mysteries in my life can be resolved by assuming I did something wrong.

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