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My personal and work email addresses are very similar, first.last@company.com and first.middleinitial.last@gmail.com. About a year ago I temporarily lost access to my company email address and communicated with a coworker from my personal address while IT sorted it out. I got back up and running, no problems.

Recently, that coworker sent out an internal email to many coworkers, and accidentally sent it to my personal email address instead of my work email address. It happening once is no biggie, I can forward it to myself and get on with the day.

The problem is that my personal email address is now in the contact books of all the recipients. And now it might be included in group emails, shared with new people, and on and on, spreading like a virus.

I caught it within the hour and was able to send out a mass email asking everyone to remove the personal address from their contact books, so far everything seems fine.

How could I have handled this better? How could I have handled this if it had spread to senior management or even the customers?

  • 3
    This is also litigation problem. Let say discovery is granted for your business email and there is a reference to personal email. The other side can ask the court to include your personal email and it is almost always granted. I used to do litigation support and people would open up in private email thinking it was private and it is not. – paparazzo Dec 2 '16 at 20:55
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    "About a year ago I temporarily lost access to my company email address and communicated with a coworker from my personal address while IT sorted it out" - don't do this. Instead, ask your colleagues to phone you or contact you by some other means while IT is fixing your account. – Brandin Dec 2 '16 at 23:50
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    @JoeStrazzere If half of my work email goes to my personal address, I need to check my personal email during the workday to make sure I'm not missing anything. I would also like to provide a consistent public image to customers through a single, professional, email address. – MackM Dec 3 '16 at 0:50
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    You ask what could have been done. My suggestion for future is to create a separate email address just for that purpose. – PM 77-1 Dec 3 '16 at 14:40
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    @MackM. If half of your work email is sent to your private email address, then you check on the weekend and send the same reply to each one: "Sorry mate, you sent this to my home email. My work email address is ... Please resend the email to the proper address. " – gnasher729 Dec 3 '16 at 16:14
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If it were me, I'd have just started with changing the "Reply-To" on any email that gets sent to your personal email. Most of it would go away that way.

Then after a couple weeks when someone sent it to that address, I'd do the same but then mention that it's a personal email and should be using the company one.

Lastly, I would eventually set a rule in gmail to auto-respond to emails coming from the company address telling them that if it's company-related, I could be better reached at my company email.

What I wouldn't have done is spammed the entire company about it. It's not that big a deal and has little chance of making you look good.

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    The issue wasn't the individual email chains, new emails were being sent to the personal address. Also, the mass email I sent went to ~15 people. It was important to stop it quickly before it became a problem that reached customers. – MackM Dec 2 '16 at 21:01
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Well as far as the past - you should have waited for IT. You definitely overstepped here. It wasn't your fault that your business e-mail wasn't working right, but it wasn't your place to decide you should use a personal facility as a workaround. Others here have detailed the reasons why - both logistic and legal. I'm sure that waiting a little longer probably would have only created slight interruption to business, as opposed to the longer term problem created by your approach.

As far as the present is concerned, you don't have many options.

  • If your provider for personal email has filtering, set it up to forward anything coming from your company's domain to your business email, and then delete the one sent to your personal e-mail.
  • OR delete the personal account and start fresh. There are tools to move your emails to a new account before you zap the old one.

You can't chase down everyone in the building every time someone uses your personal account.

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