Legitimate emails dodging my Google Inbox

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Tickets to an upcoming sporting event.

A receipt from the Nike store for running shoes I bought last weekend.

A local newsletter I open every day.

Those emails and 82 others were among the legitimate messages I fished out of my Gmail Spam folder on Monday morning.

From the looks of it, I’m not alone. A quick Twitter search revealed numerous other Gmail users reporting that they’re suddenly catching a flurry of legitimate emails in their Spam folders.

The only reason I even knew to check was because the coach of my recreational softball game asked why I hadn’t responded to his Evite invitation, which has been delivered to my Inbox every week we’ve had a game for the last five years.

“You in or out this week,” he asked. “I may still need to find a few people depending on your status.”

If there’s one thing I will not tolerate, it’s missing my chance to have a little fun in the midst of a pandemic!

But there were other decidedly more important emails in my Spam, as well.

A check-in notice for an upcoming hotel stay. A receipt for a few shirts I bought. And yet another receipt.

Plus another half-dozen newsletters I open and read every time I receive them, including newsletters to local news site ARLNow.com, national news site Axios and the Washington Nationals baseball team.

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In a culture dominated by FOMO, this is pretty much my worst nightmare, guys.

But it turns out I am most definitely not alone.

“Is it me or has gmail recently dialed-up the number of emails that they are sending to the spam filter?” Auren Hoffman, CEO of data company SafeGraph, said Wednesday on Twitter. 

Several people responded to say they had experienced something similar, including one person who said they “missed financial statements” and “important emails from people I have a history of interacting with.”

Internet entrepreneur Jason Shellen was exasperated after experiencing the same thing.

“In a maddening turn of events, having used Gmail before it was even public, email from friends and family is now ending up in SPAM,” Shellen said Monday on Twitter.

The reports are widespread:

Google had little to say when I contacted its public relations team.

“Gmail automatically identifies suspicious emails and marks them as spam,” the company’s PR team said in a statement. “When you open your Spam label, you’ll see emails that were marked as spam by you or Gmail. Each email will include a label at the top that explains why Gmail sent it to Spam.”

In multiple cases, Google’s @Gmail account on Twitter responded to people who complained about the issue and pointed them to this link with tips on how to avoid this issue.

That’s the same link they pointed me to.

Among the tips: In your Spam filter, mark legitimate emails as “Not spam.” That will send them back to your Inbox.

“To stop a message from being sent to Spam in the future, you can” also, “add the sender to your Contacts” or “filter these messages.”

One good idea is, on the desktop version of Gmail, to select the email you want to make sure always goes to your Inbox. Then click on the three vertically oriented dots at the top of the page and click “Filter messages like these.” Then, click the option that says “Create filter,” click the option that says “Never send it to Spam,” and click “Create filter” again.

That sounds bulletproof, but it might not be.

“In fact, I think they labeled something spam even though I had a filter to keep it out of spam,” one person on Twitter reported.

Which means that until further notice, it would be wise to check your Spam filter regularly to make sure you don’t miss anything important.

This experience has even made me wonder about the Inbox fate of the free Monday-through-Friday newsletter I run for USA TODAY: The Daily Money. 

Please, Google overlords, you can take me but please spare my newsletter.

You can follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey and subscribe to our free Daily Money newsletter here for personal finance tips and business news every Monday through Friday morning.