Could someone reopen my closed email account?

After an online account is deleted, the ID or email address is eventually made available for re-use. It's the same name but a different owner, and that can confuse people.

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I have terminated my Yahoo account. There’s a clause in the form that says that after 90 days my user ID can be made available to others. Does that mean that if someone then snaps up my old user name they could start impersonating me? Would he see everyone on my contact list? Would my old contacts see him and think I was back on-line?

Could that person try and impersonate you? Yes.

Will it be easy? Maybe.

Would that person see everyone on your contact list? No.

This actually applies to all the services, not just Yahoo. The “90 days” part might change, but the basics would still apply.

Grace period

When you close or abandon your account with any online service provider, they typically do exactly what you’ve seen in the Yahoo text: after some period of time they make your abandoned user name and email address available again. To anyone. All someone has to do it sign up and ask for it.

For most services, if you log in again using your old name before time runs out, it resets the clock. If you’re successfully logging into it, you’re clearly not “abandoning” it. Even if you go through a provider’s steps to cancel an account, there’s often a grace period after that where you can change your mind, log in and “un-cancel” the account.

Things can get a little confusing when people use multiple services from the same provider. For example, your Microsoft account is at once an email account, possibly your Skype account, your OneDrive account, and as of Windows 8.1 it could even be your computer’s login account. Using any of these services keeps the entire account active. You can’t close only your Microsoft email account while keeping your OneDrive account with the same email address. The same is generally true for all multiple-service providers, including Google and Yahoo!.

Account ClosedWhen?

If you do abandon your account, or explicitly close it, then exactly when it’s returned to the available pool of names varies greatly.

For example, If you close your account with your ISP, they could actually make your ID available again the very next day if they wanted to – and I’m sure some do.

Most free services like Yahoo! and others wait at least 30 days and most wait much longer.

What happens?

I believe that closing and abandonment are similar, and generally follow the same general sequence of events, but remember – this is totally up to each service provider, and can change without warning or notice.

We begin by abandoning the account. That means you don’t use it in any way: you don’t log in to the account or any service that is related to the account.

After some period of time, the service notices that you haven’t logged in and considers your account abandoned. At this point, typically:

  • Any email, files or other items stored in the account are irretrievably deleted.
  • Any contacts, friends or similar lists are irretrievably deleted.

At this point your account is, effectively, gone. You may be able to re-open it by logging in again, but all of your previously-stored data will be gone.

After some additional period of time, the service removes the “login to re-open” option completely. You simply cannot get the login ID (i.e. email address) back again once this happens.

At the same time, or perhaps after some additional time, the service will release the email address or ID back into the available pool. Now someone – anyone – could come along and request your old email address and get it.

When someone else has your old email address

It’s important to realize that when someone comes along and requests your old and abandoned email address, they get a completely new account. There is nothing in that account that relates to your old account, with the exception of the email address / login ID.

Remember, as part of the closing process the service deleted all of your stuff before they closed it. It’s gone. You can’t get it, and neither can the person who now has your old email address.

However…

What they will get is any new email that’s sent to your old email address. Deleting your account did nothing to “tell the world” that the email address isn’t you any more. Even if you did try to broadcast the change, it’s very likely that not everyone got the message or updated their records. Chances are your old email address is still in someone’s address book, or included on some mailing list somewhere.

The new account owner will get anything sent to your old address.

And he’ll be sending “From:” your old address.

I hope that’s all OK, because there’s nothing you can do about it.

OK, there is one thing.

Don’t close the account

If the possibility of someone else getting email that was intended for you but sent to a long-abandoned email address bothers you, then the solution is actually quite simple.

Don’t abandon it. Don’t close it.

Keep the account open. Check in every so often so that it stays open.

Keep it yours, and you won’t have to worry about a thing.

This is an update to an article originally posted : April 9, 2007

There are 39 comments:

  1. Kathy Reply

    Wouldn’t it depend on the password associated with the account whether it showed up on someone’s buddy list? When I log in, I’m xxx@yyy with password zzz. If someone else becomes xxx@yyy with password uuu, wouldn’t their set up be totally different? Ergo, different settings so it doesn’t trigger the buddy list??

    • Alain Reply

      For that someone’s buddy list, the password don’t mather at all for a very simple reason: They never had that information. For you, it’s xxx@yyy.com with password zzz. For anybody else, it’s just xxx@yyy.com.

  2. LJ Reply

    Good article. I work in website development and we were trying to decide whether or not we should allow users on our websites to change their email addresses on the accounts that they use to place orders. And your article helped us decide quickly that yes, we should allow users to change their email addresses on accounts. Thanks!

  3. nic Reply

    i have a myspace acount with a deleted e mail account as my username. but i have forgot my password. on myspace they have a password finder. they send your password to your e mail. but that e mail account is closed down. is there someway i can reopen that e mail account?

  4. Nicole Reply

    I need some help. There used to be a website that anyone could access … I could simply type in my full email address and password and I woudl be redirected to my emial whether it was work, yahoo, or whatever. Does anyone know that webaddress?

  5. Go Reply

    Hello,
    I had a yahoo account that i closed 3 years ago. Trying to register with the same ID, i noticed that this ID is still not available. I did all the things to make sure this ID is not taken by someone else. So i guess yahoo had marked my ID and never let it free.
    So my queston is:
    Is it possible that yahoo can mark some ID’s like unavailable forever (for security reasons or for other reasons), even if they are not taken?
    Thanks.

  6. Paul Reply

    An easy way around this is to get yourself a domain name , set all your emails to be shown as from the domain and not the actual email address and set up the mail forwarding on the domain host to come to your actual inbox.

    (It’s often possible to download webmail using outlook express for these purposes).

    Then when you move mail provider or change your account just change the address the domain host forwards your mail to, nobody will be any the wiser.

    It’s worked for me over 3 ISP changes and many many account changes.

  7. t johnson Reply

    Hello,how are you?A friend of mine is working on a large business consultant event, in which he wants to e-mail an invitation out to hundreds of people.His e-mail list is 18 pgs. long.How can he check these list to get rid of duplicate e-mails?And how can he batch them, so that no one else sees each others e-mail addresses?Can any of the two questions,I just asked about, be done by just changing the computer’s settings?Is additional software needed to erase duplicates,sort and organize all those e-mails?He has Outlook on his PC.Thanks so much for your help.

  8. Canh Lam Reply

    Hi,

    I notice that recently yahoo’s close my accounts just after few days not sign on to my email account.
    This is something I’ve never seen for years since
    I open my accounts with yahoo.

    I tried to reopen my account but was unable to
    do it. I guess yahoo’s asking some info. I may
    have not provide to them correctly base on their
    database info.

    Not sure if anyone out there who is experiencing
    this and how to get back the old account.

    Any tips or resolution to regain the closed
    email account would appreciated.

    CL.

  9. kevin Reply

    my friend told me that after 90 days she didnt sign on her yahoo messenger account.now she could not sign on to the account.but sometime i go online,her yahoo messenger online.it is possible if a new user still on my messenger list?how long before yahoo close your account if you dont use it?how long before your name available for someone else to register?please help me with this questions.thank you

  10. Terence Reply

    Well i have a friend who has not operated his e-mail id since the last 2 and a half year?

    Now due to certain reasons he wants some emails stored in the yahoo account.

    So is it possible to excess the same account and retrive the emails stored 2 and a half years ago?

  11. Leo A. Notenboom Reply

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    Leo

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  12. Rana Reply

    How do you contact service providers? I deleted my account for yahoo today, and need it back just to delete my myspace account since my myspace was under that email account. Please help me, if you have the chance, thank you Leo.

  13. mandy Reply

    Hi,
    well my question is that when closing a hotmail account is there a wat to reopen it and have all ur friends still there?? my account was closed down and now i can reopen it.. it was just closed 2 days ago.. it be nice for some feedback.. thanks..

  14. Sulaiman Reply

    When I signed onto my msn & went into my email I got this message

    “Account Closed. Access Denied.
    Your account has been closed because of concerns over violations of the Terms of Use. If you want your account to be re-opened, please follow these instructions:
    1. Click on the link below, and complete the e-form by providing your name, an email address where we can reach you, and the name of the account that has been closed.

    2. In the box labelled Please Select An Option, choose “Connection/Sign In Problem”.

    3. In the next box label ed Please Select An Option, choose “Account Closed. Access Denied.”

    4. Complete the two additional questions with a red star (*) by them (they are required fields) and click Submit.

    An agent will review your account and notify you within 24-hours if your account has been re-opened. Please DO NOT submit multiple tickets, as this will delay processing of your original ticket.

    Submit a request to re-open your account

    When I clicked on the “Submit a request to re-open your account” Link It did not help me at all it was just morpointlessss links.

    For a few months I have beereceivingng emails from “postmaster” or something like that & I just deleted them straight awaythinkink this is why my account wclosedesd.

  15. Renee Reply

    My hotmail account has been closed and when i try to reopen i cant get anywhere.
    When I clicked on the “Submit a request to re-open your account” Link It did not help me at all it was just more pointless links.
    For a few couple of weeks I have been receivingng emails from “postmaster” or something like that & I just deleted them straight away thinking this is why my account was closed.

  16. Biju John Reply

    Dear Sir,
    My hotmail e-mail account has been closed it seems to have violated their terms of use. please advise me how to re-open my account.

    Thanks and regards,
    Biju

  17. alaa Reply

    i sent a message to hotmail and i did not what to do in my problem that my account has been closed and i opened the link supmit a request to re-open your account then i did not find the e-support form.I fill the form in msn service but i did not find the result please help me and send the solution quickly i need my account as possible as you can please

  18. dave Reply

    hi ive got same prob as sulaiman & renee & others email acc closed violation etc…cant get link and cant get to customer support for help could really do with getting it reopened so if anyone can help would be greatful.

  19. anass Reply

    When I signed onto my msn & went into my email I got this message

    “Account Closed. Access Denied.
    Your account has been closed because of concerns over violations of the Terms of Use. If you want your account to be re-opened, please follow these instructions:
    1. Click on the link below, and complete the e-form by providing your name, an email address where we can reach you, and the name of the account that has been closed.

    2. In the box labelled Please Select An Option, choose “Connection/Sign In Problem”.

    3. In the next box label ed Please Select An Option, choose “Account Closed. Access Denied.”

    4. Complete the two additional questions with a red star (*) by them (they are required fields) and click Submit.

  20. Bertus Reply

    Account Closed. Access Denied.
    Your account has been closed because of concerns over violations of the Terms of Use. If you want your account to be re-opened, please follow these instructions:
    1. Click on the link below, and complete the e-form by providing your name, an email address where we can reach you, and the name of the account that has been closed.

    2. In the box labelled Please Select An Option, choose “Connection/Sign In Problem”.

    3. In the next box label ed Please Select An Option, choose “Account Closed. Access Denied.”

    4. Complete the two additional questions with a red star (*) by them (they are required fields) and click Submit

  21. Magda Reply

    Same thing happened to me. Account was closed and acces is denied. WHAT DO WE DO NOW. I keep sending emails to the abuse@hotmail.com but nothing comes out of it. It says that an anwser should be given within 24 hours – well it’s been over 2 weeks now. Is there a possibility that my email may never be re-opened and all my emails may be lost? Can someone actually help?

    Yes, this is Hotmail, it has almost no customer service, and it’s very possible that your account has been lost. I hear about it all the time for many, many different reasons.
    If there’s any chance at all, I would have you start here: How do I contact Windows Live Hotmail customer service?

    - Leo
    14-May-2009
  22. shehr Reply

    Thanks!today I was just thinking to delete my account without thiking,but than,Thanks to God,it struck in my mind,that if someone else started using it…….that will not be good…and after reading ur answer…im resolved that if someone want to delete account,one should first tell friends that im going to do so….and if someone else start using this id,be sure that it will be not me…afcourse…thanks

  23. bader Reply

    Same thing happened to me. Account was closed and acces is denied. WHAT i can DO NOW

  24. Lubnah Reply

    As soon as tried to access my email i received this message. i do not understand anything as i have not not something wrong!i have been receiving several postmaster delivery notifications failure when i didn’t even send those emails. i deleted all those postmasters and now my account is closed!do you have an idea how i can reopen my account plz??? when i tried to access the link i got nothing so i couldn’t solve this problem. could you please help me out i dunno what to do!!!

    Your account has been closed because of concerns over violations of the Terms of Use. If you want your account to be re-opened, please follow these instructions:

    1. Click on the link below, and complete the e-form by providing your name, an email address where we can reach you, and the name of the account that has been closed.

    2. In the box labeled Please Select An Option, choose “Connection/Sign In Problem”.

    3. In the next box labeled Please Select An Option, choose “Account Closed. Access Denied.”

    4. Complete the two additional questions with a red star (*) by them (they are required fields) and click Submit.

    An agent will review your account and notify you within 24-hours if your account has been re-opened. Please DO NOT submit multiple tickets, as this will delay processing of your original ticket.

  25. mohamed hafez Reply

    the same problem of my hot mail which is account closed according to terms of use and i have sended to abuse@hotmail.com and do all but they answer that it’s not in their boundary so wht the solution is????? i have work to do, will it be solved automatically or wht , to whom we can geet specific solution???????? help me out here!!

  26. rao Reply

    my e-mail account has blocked. i not know it reason of blocking. plz help me, that i reopen my account again.

  27. Safa Reply

    my account has been closed and access denied.. when i try to submit a request to re-open my account the link appears to be brocken
    plz tell me wt i should do

    thx

  28. samar nassar Reply

    the same done with me i didn’t forget my password but i can’t reopen it do i make another one?

  29. kelley giroux Reply

    I have this email account and I went to sign in and it said my windows live id was wrong. I know its right and then it said i had to change it from @sympatico.ca to @live.ca and I had to and now all my emails are gone and all my scholarship and college emails are on there. How do i get them back?

  30. Rangi Reply

    hey i just need help re-opening my email i canr receive mail or anyhting can someone help me if u want to reply please reply to [email address removed] thanks

  31. Janet Reply

    I closed my msn hotmail/Messenger account and think I closed the windows live ID as well about a month ago, now I fear I need access to it, is it possible to recover it?

    You can try logging in again, but if that fails then I don’t know of a way to recover a closed account.

    Leo
    18-May-2010

  32. Joseph F. Yates Reply

    I closed a PEOPLE PC account and could not retrieve it to my Yahoo account . Is there any way that I can get my old mail because I cannot even open outlook express . Please advise .

  33. Calvin Stovall Reply

    this is my father account and he for got his passward and he wanted to see if he can reopen it

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