Most contact managers (Outlook, Act!, Goldmine, etc.) will automatically flag similar e-mails, and at least ask if you want to write over a current record in your personal data base (which should match up with the central file if you have been diligent about synchronizations and backups. We have also had great success using programs like AccuCard, which work CardScan to automate the contact entry process, and let you make corrections to entered data later in the day or week when you are not so busy. You can store this information in a personal Web space for viewing and reviewing, and then approve it for passage to the central information source during synchronization.
Some companies also use Plaxo, although many are skeptical and skittish about the way the software automatically talks with other Plaxo users to keep your contact data base up-to-date.
There are also some utilities available as shareware, although most companies frown on non-approved software of this type.
In the final analysis, the best way to limit bogus information is to increase quality control on the client side.
This was first published in March 2004