someone sent a dirty email from my work account — but it wasn’t me! by Alison Green on January 3, 2013 A reader writes: This is so embarrassing! I use my personal smart phone for many things, including work email. Work is ok with this and in fact proves a little extra on my pay to cover some of the cost. I struck up a conversation with one of the regulars at a local pub over my phone. He asked if he could check email because he was waiting for an important message. Since I’ve seen him there a number of times, I logged him in on his gmail account and handed him the phone. A few days later, I noticed an odd message in my “sent” files on my work email. Turns out, his “important messages” consisted of answering a personal ad on Craigslist. It was graphic…he did not leave much to the imagination. Apparently, when he answered the ad from my phone, it used the phone’s default email (my work account) instead of his. I am shocked…and terrified….that it might’ve been flagged by a filter that I’m sure IT surely has. Don’t they all…good sized privately held company.) To make matters worse, we’re both men of about the same age. I am caught between just going straight to HR and discussing this and just laying low in fear. Ugh, this sucks, because there’s no good solution here. If you go to HR, it might turn it into a problem that they otherwise never would have noticed. But if you don’t go to HR, and it does get noticed, then do you look guiltier for never having mentioned it? What about a different option — telling your manager, rather than HR? Your manager presumably knows you better than HR does, knows that you’re credible (hopefully), and will know you well enough to tell by your demeanor when you have this conversation that you’re both mortified and telling the truth. You can simply say that you were horrified when you realized what happened, that you didn’t know if you should tell anyone in case it was noticed, that you want to go on record as telling him about it in case it comes up later, and that you will never loan your phone out to strangers again. Honestly, that will probably take care of it. Your manager is unlikely to think that you sent the message yourself and then called more attention to it by concocting this story. (And if she does think that, please be openly indignant — since that is in fact what an innocent person would do.) It will probably be absolutely fine. It could potentially even end up being funny, depending on what your manager is like. Meanwhile, what the hell is up with this dude in the bar feeling that it was urgent to send graphic responses to Craigslist ads? And how will you handle it the next time you run into him? I’d really like to hear that story. You may also like:my manager refuses to text me, even though he texts the rest of our teammy boss asked me to log into a coworker’s email to delete a cruel messagecan I stop taking phone calls at work and direct everyone to email me?