Although there is no official definition, on the internet people who, by mistake or whatever, use an email address that is not their own to register for any service are referred to as“Idiots in the fog“.
This results in all correspondence associated with those services irretrievably reaching other people, and the so-called “idiots in the fog” are left lost and confused.
Idiots in the fog, uncertain origin
Nothing is known about who first coined this term of endearment, nor is it possible to pinpoint an exact date for the birth of idiots in the fog, and although there are traces on Twitter of people calling them that as early as 2013, the popularisation of this effect may date back to the birth of the first mass email services.
The point is that it is already natural to receive such emails from time to time.
They can be attempts to recover the password of one’s own email address, bank account or credit card balance and movements, medical appointments, airline tickets and boarding passes with all the details, food orders, telephone and internet registrations or the most varied services and curious communications.
Data, data, data
Sometimes, due to the different layers of security, these emails do not contain much personal information about the “idiot in the fog”, but in others we can receive anything from the full history of their bank account, their bills or even passwords and sensitive personal data including full name, date of birth, ID number and full address. Imagine what a piece of candy for any digitally active crook.
The example below, which contained a lot of personal information, was fixed almost instantly with a simple email cross-reference.
Clearly this was a major security flaw as the registration did not appear to have any prior mail verification system. They were sending the data and the password, which in turn was the date of birth, all at once.
what to do?
There are basically three ways to follow when these emails arrive.
1- Don’t complicate your life.
Do nothing more than put a blocking filter on the address, delete the emails and forget about it. This is the most advisable, although it does not guarantee that the communications will stop arriving because they are usually sent from automated addresses of the noresponder@ type which, as their name suggests, do not allow replies and, furthermore, these automated email addresses can change.
2- Communicate it to the idiot in the fog.
Don’t even think about it, this would only complicate things and the recipient might think that you are a delinquent or a fool. It’s also weird. Imagine receiving an email from someone who says they have emails from you and your knowledge of the internet is minimal.
3 – Report it to the company from which the emails arrive.
Taking this path, which is logical in principle, can lead to a lot of time wasted.
If you want to be a good citizen and warn the company that one of their idiots is wandering around in the fog looking for their login details with your email address, be prepared for any scenario.
You can waste a lot of time and solve nothing, and you may even find yourself in loops and situations as absurd as being asked to log in as a customer of a service you are not a customer of. In addition, you will have to give them your details over and over again, so they will end up on other lists to be sold to all sorts of companies.
3.1 Take it with humour and have a few laughs
Even if you don’t always feel like having a laugh, it can be a very healthy activity to have a good laugh.
I received a reply in the same tone, we had a few laughs and that settled it.
The fog of banking
Where they don’t seem to find a quick and effective system to solve this kind of problem is in banking. With the piles of money they make and the money they spend on advertising and fat salaries for their managers, they can’t seem to set up a simple, humane and humanised problem-solving mechanism.
Although sometimes they manage to fix it without wasting a lot of time, the truth is that this is not always the case. This is a lottery.
My idiot banker
In the end you get fond of them and even miss them when they manage to find a way out of the thick blanket of fog in which they live enveloped
I leave you with the latest string of communications with the supposed CM of a bank (and his bot) to try to get one of his idiots out of the fog, who has been trapped there for almost a year
This is the story of José Ramón, my longest-lived banking idiot, who is neither the first nor will he be the last.
Spoiler and short summary. Every time they say it is solved, another mail, call and/or SMS arrives and it starts all over again.
What you have to ask yourself at this point is….
why are SMS’s now arriving to my phone number when what the idiot in the fog used was my email address?
Yes, that’s right, my email address was already associated with my phone number thanks to any of the thousands of lists where it will be included and with which companies cheat.