Why this is happening
As with many universities, it is sometimes necessary to re-issue email addresses. This helps to reduce the need to use numbers to create a unique email address, e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org. This does not mean that the user account and mailbox space have been used before. We create entirely new accounts, but assign an email address that may have been used before. We do not re-issue an email address for at least 2 years.
When users leave the school, we request that they unsubscribe from any online services (e.g. Facebook) or mailing lists (e.g. newsletters and marketing updates) but we cannot force them to do so or do so on their behalf. In some cases the service providers and circulars continue to send mail to addresses that no longer exist. If that email address is re-issued, it may receive these messages. We continue to try and resolve this matter with the providers of these services. We create accounts well in advance of students' arrival on campus, so there may be a number of such messages in the inbox. Some examples include:
The LSE employs a company to help control the amount of spam we receive. The methods for producing spam are constantly evolving, as are the means to prevent it. Around half the messages addressed to LSE every day are blocked as spam. There is no way to ensure that no spam gets through. If you receive just a few messages from the same sender, or with the same subject line, and clearly promoting a service or product you do not want, there is a good chance those messages are spam. Spam mailers will not usually employ the same Sender address many times as it may swiftly be classified as a spam mailer and blocked.
Message Undeliverable (Spoofing)
You may receive a message with a heading like 'Undeliverable' or an 'Out of Office' referring to a mail address that you have not tried to send to. This is usually the result of 'Spoofing'. This is the term used for spam that is sent out under a false email address. In some cases, the false email address may be an email address that really does exist (such as your LSE address). In that case, any replies to the message are delivered to the spoofed address. We cannot prevent this from happening. As with any other Sender address, spam mailers seldom use the same address for long.
This is not proof that your email security has been compromised. It is very rare for the spam mailer to have gained access to the Sender address they are using. We advocate good security measures being taken with PCs and passwords at all times. Running a virus scan or changing your password are always sensible precautions to take if you suspect your security has been compromised. See Your LSE password for information on how to reset your network and email password and Protect your Own Computer for information on virus scanning.
Most newsletters, etc will not be personalised, but arrive from the same Sender. They may arrive at regular intervals or quite frequently. Most will feature a link at the bottom to unsubscribe.
An online service provider will usually send out personalised messages, eg. Dear Joe Bloggs. In the first instance, we advise that you try replying to any such message explaining that you are not the person for whom the message was intended.
Not all personalised messages are the result of online services. It can be the result of spam mailers who have obtained information contained on public access websites (e.g. the student directory, Facebook, etc)
What to do about it
If you think you are receiving someone else's mail you should follow the steps listed below:
Spam: In the first instance we suggest you simply delete unwanted messages from external senders without opening them. If you continue to receive unwanted messages from the same Senders they may be circulars from an online services provider.
Spoofing: 'Undeliverable' messages are not spam and cannot be blocked as such. If you are concerned that your email security may have been compromised, we recommend that you change your password and run a virus check. (See Your LSE Password for information on how to reset your network and email password and Protect your Own Computer for information on virus scanning).
Circulars: In the first instance we advise you to use the unsubscribe link (usually at the bottom of the message) to request removal from their mailing list.
Online Services: Try replying to any such messages explaining that you are not the person for whom the message was intended. Please don't attempt to gain unauthorised access to the account in question. Do contact the company concerned to get the messages stopped.
Continuing Unwanted Messages
If the mail you are receiving is offensive, or making it difficult to manage your mailbox, you may wish to consider requesting that we change your email address. This is a disruptive process which we would only advise where other means have failed. See 4. My LSE email address is being changed, what happens now? below.