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Automatic Reply

Automatic Reply: “I don’t have a clever out-of-office message”

Maria Hollenhorst Jul 25, 2019
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Privacy lawyer Eileen Braunreiter has a word of caution about out-of-office messages.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Automatic Reply celebrates the pithy, surprising or otherwise amusing “out-of-office” email messages pinging around workplaces.


Eileen Braunreiter is a privacy lawyer in Menlo Park, California. She heard our series highlighting creative out-of-office emails people set up while on vacation and offered this word of caution:

“I don’t have a clever out-of-office message and here’s why – privacy concerns!

As a privacy professional, I’ve advised to make out-of-office messages less specific about when someone will be on vacation (date range) and where they are going (“I’m in St. Tropez for August.”) – at least for automatic replies to emails coming from outside of a company.

The date and location detail can give unscrupulous characters – better known as criminals – information that could be used inappropriately, such as for a burglary.

I enjoy fun automatic replies but recommend taking advantage of email settings.  Leave the specifics for replies to internal email addresses and be more vague in the ones sent externally. “

Do you have a creative out-of-office message with lots of personal details? Throw caution to the wind and tell us about it here: