Author Topic: Do I NEED to include my last name in this Email?  (Read 1983 times)

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lilblu

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Do I NEED to include my last name in this Email?
« on: March 22, 2014, 03:56:06 PM »
I probably won't get a chance to respond to any advice given, so I want to say thanks in advance. Thanks!

I need to send an email to several local organizations that offer discounted services. I need to see if I qualify and then schedule an appointment if I do. Unfortunately, because of the way certain things have happened, I need these services ASAP.

My problem/concern is that I don't want to include my last name on the email until I know with absolute certainty that they'll accept me and I can get an appointment. I'm a very private and somewhat paranoid person (with good reason) so I don't want anyone to know who I am unless I can get an appointment. All it takes is my first and last name and they can possibly find out everything about me like my address, phone number, age, etc.

Is it ok if I just include my first name and the first letter of my last name? They actually want me to fill out a web form with my address and phone number, but there's no legitimate reason they need that until an appointment can be scheduled. To me, giving out that information right now is like paying with a check at a store and having the cashier ask for my SSN. There's no legitimate reason for it and it's stupid to give it out. I'm going to bypass the web form and just send an email.

guihong

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Re: Do I NEED to include my last name in this Email?
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2014, 04:29:38 PM »
You won't get an appointment if you send an email, which will probably be discarded.

How are they going to determine your eligibility without identifying your age, rough income bracket, things like that?  (I see this as different from intrusive questions from a store; you don't need to give any information if buying a package of batteries.  Just use cash and say "No" if the store asks for ZIP code or anything else, but that's besides the point).  How will you manage job applications, the entire purpose of which is to determine eligibility for the job and get an interview?

A reputable organization won't use your personal information for wrongful purposes.  The only other advice I can think of is to give the organization a call (if a phone number is provided).



Harriet Jones

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Re: Do I NEED to include my last name in this Email?
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2014, 04:38:11 PM »
What do you think they're going to do with your full name?

If their preferred method of contact is with a web form, you should use that.  There's no way of knowing if an email would even go to the appropriate place.

MrTango

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Re: Do I NEED to include my last name in this Email?
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2014, 04:50:57 PM »
If I were responsible for screening request forms, I would probably discard forms that were not filled out completely and correctly.  If I received an email with a request for services that normally require a completed request form, my response would be to send you a link to the form.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2014, 04:52:29 PM by MrTango »

Hmmmmm

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Re: Do I NEED to include my last name in this Email?
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2014, 04:54:22 PM »
I think you may have a hard time getting an appointment without calling each location. It sounds like their process is to validate eligibility and only if eligible will they discuss timing of appointment.

You want them to tell you availability of appointments before you have them validate eligibility.

So I'd start calling.

shhh its me

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Re: Do I NEED to include my last name in this Email?
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2014, 06:07:17 PM »
  In general if an organization has a set up (forms , apply online) it can be very difficult to get them to change their set up. They may or may not have an alternative and their alternative may be to fill out the form in ink and mail it in.   I would think its pretty rare for an organization to ask for A , B and C info as a norm to make an appointment to make an appointment without the info. They may or may not be able to answer a yes or no question ie " Does a person who earns X , with Y in savings and 3 minor children qualify." but they may not even be able to answer that.

There are legitimate reasons for them to want more info before making an appointment.  ie they do a check (to make sure your not banned , already reviving services) they only offer services to people within a specific geography , they may not provided services to without SS#s.  they may not have the resources to answer specific questions of people who don't have the required info.   There are a number of people who will spends hours of time researching hypothetical situations. ie services in cities they don't live in , what will happen if they lose their jobs , what will happen if they get a green card  etc.

Lynn2000

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Re: Do I NEED to include my last name in this Email?
« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2014, 08:48:02 PM »
I think your best bet would be to call the agencies and explain the situation to them. "Hi, I realize this is kind of odd, but would it be possible for me to have a confidential appointment with someone to discuss services, without giving my last name or address? Of course if I turned out to be eligible I would give complete information. It's just that I have a restraining order against my ex and I'm worried about him finding out where I live now." (Or whatever your situation is.)

They might say no, and I think you would just have to accept that politely, and decide whether the risk was worth it to you. The kind of agency I'm picturing is bound by a lot of policies and laws, which can be hard to bend, so it might very well be that they can't tell you anything, or even make an appointment for you, without knowing your full name and address. In other words, it might not be just someone being unhelpful, their hands may be tied.

However, I don't think it would be wrong to ask politely if the possibility exists. You could even ask, politely, to speak to a supervisor, or perhaps go in person, to see if that would help. But I think this calls for a real-time conversation. An incomplete web form would probably be rejected by the system before a human even saw it, and an email with the explanation might not be taken very seriously.
~Lynn2000

camlan

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Re: Do I NEED to include my last name in this Email?
« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2014, 10:34:59 PM »
Some government agencies may have a needs calculator on their websites. You can check for these--you will have to type in income and rent/mortgage type things, but not any identifying info. The calculators can't guarantee that you will get aid, but they usually point to the types of aid you might be eligible for, and which ones you wouldn't be eligible for.

Also, the government agencies usually have a privacy policy posted somewhere.

But I suspect that you are applying to local charities and non-profits, where you might be concerned about someone you know looking your information up. I would check their websites for a privacy policy, or call them up and ask about their policies.

Or ask if a fake name is acceptable, until you are accepted into their program, at which time you will give your real name.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


Mary Lennox

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Re: Do I NEED to include my last name in this Email?
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2014, 09:42:58 AM »
They actually want me to fill out a web form with my address and phone number, but there's no legitimate reason they need that until an appointment can be scheduled.

How do you know they don't have a reason for needing it? Do you work for them? Do you know the inner workings of the company?

TBH, if you called and said "I need your help, but I'm not going to give you any information until I can be guaranteed that I'll get an appointment" I'd direct you to the website and tell you to apply like everyone else has to. And start a file somewhere marking you as "one of those clients".

Tea Drinker

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Re: Do I NEED to include my last name in this Email?
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2014, 11:59:05 AM »
The only thing I can think of, if your full name and address aren't relevant to whether you're eligible, would be to fill out the form with something very obvious like "Jane Alias, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC" and include your explanation in any free-text field for explanations/more information. That might work if eligibility is based on something like the person's income or age.

However, a lot of organizations that offer discounted services have eligibility based on where people live. For example, I went to a hospital emergency room a few years ago, and the paperwork we were given included information on applying for charity care if I lived in one of a few specific zip codes near the hospital. For something else, it might be a broader "resident of King County" or "do you live in New Jersey?" So while you could put a friend's address (with permission), it's possible that your actual address is eligible and theirs isn't: or vice versa, in which case you might get the appointment, fill out the form more accurately, and be told that you weren't eligible.

What you want to avoid is making the person at the other end think "I suppose lilblu might be eligible, but they're going to be a pain to work with, I'll wait and see if they fill out the proper form." So the closer you can come to doing things via their standard process, the better your chances are; remember that you're probably making extra work for the person at the other end. If their system can't make/record an appointment without a properly-formed name and address, if you don't give them something, even "Jane Alias," the employee has to decide whether to go to the extra trouble of filling in the form for you, with a fake surname and address.

Also, with regard to legitimate reasons for needing your phone number: the telephone is a good way to arrange appointments if you care at all about when they see you--and almost everyone does, either something is too early or too late, or you have two other appointments between now and the end of June but this conflicts with one of them.
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Winterlight

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Re: Do I NEED to include my last name in this Email?
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2014, 12:07:37 PM »
If you want to get services, you need to follow the instructions given. Most agencies aren't going to give exemptions for this for the simple reason that then everyone would expect them.
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whatsanenigma

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Re: Do I NEED to include my last name in this Email?
« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2014, 12:12:32 PM »
They actually want me to fill out a web form with my address and phone number, but there's no legitimate reason they need that until an appointment can be scheduled.

How do you know they don't have a reason for needing it? Do you work for them? Do you know the inner workings of the company?

TBH, if you called and said "I need your help, but I'm not going to give you any information until I can be guaranteed that I'll get an appointment" I'd direct you to the website and tell you to apply like everyone else has to. And start a file somewhere marking you as "one of those clients".

I would think that any agency of that sort would have had possible clients before with concerns about confidentiality.  While I would not advise using the "I need your help, but I'm not..." wording, I don't think it would be out of line for OP to make a phone call and explain her confidentiality concerns and see what can be done, or if maybe there already are procedures in place to protect that confidentiality that are satisfactory to the OP.

I think that addressing it from the angle of "I am concerned about the confidentiality of this" and not "I'm not going to give you the information that you would need to be able to help me", with a generous helping of "I'm sorry about this" and an explanation of why confidentiality is a special concern if it seems appropriate, I think that would be perfectly fine.

Teenyweeny

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Re: Do I NEED to include my last name in this Email?
« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2014, 12:34:18 PM »
If you need special accommodation, then you should call the agencies involved. An email that doesn't conform to their application procedure is just going to get ignored or lost.



Wordgeek

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Re: Do I NEED to include my last name in this Email?
« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2014, 01:11:56 PM »
Insofar as this pertains to etiquette, the matter has been sufficiently addressed.