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If someone starts using my old email address could they find my information?


About a little less than a year ago, I had a Yahoo email account that I had
for many years. I closed this account about a year ago because when I used it,
it would redirect me to another site with all this weird script. I don’t know if
someone’s sent me a virus or something, so I then got a new email address with
a different email provider.

I’ve now opened a new Yahoo email account with a different email address. My
question is this: if someone opened a Yahoo email account with the same email
address as the one that I had closed, and they used my birthday and zip code as
I had it in that account I closed, would Yahoo recognize this and pull up old
data specifically on my account activity?

I realize that when a Yahoo email account is closed, that the data is erased
and stored in a backup or archives, but I was thinking if someone opened a
Yahoo email with the same information, same email address, same birthday, same
zip code that the Yahoo system would somehow pull up old data like account
login history. I wouldn’t want someone to know of my information, especially
something personal like account login activity. I don’t think that someone
would do this, but you never know. Someone tried to use my other email address
that I have with a different email provider to sign up for Facebook. You can
never be too safe.

In this excerpt from
Answercast #21
, I look at the type of steps that a person would have to go
through to retrieve an old email address. It’s not as simple as knowing a few
pieces of random information.


My old email address

I agree you can never be too safe, but I don’t think you have anything to worry about at all.

The fact is that yes, when you delete an email account, when you close an email account like that, after some period of time, the email address that you had becomes available to new subscribers.

So if you had, you closed it, and then someone else came along and opened up, they could easily get the email address that you used to have.

Now, signing up with the birthday and the zip code and whatever else, I honestly don’t think there’s anything to worry about.

Online email has security protection

What you’re assuming is that there is no possibility that there could be another person with the same zip code and the same birthdate who might want to open up an email account with that same old email address. That’s an assumption that Yahoo can’t make. They have to assume that this person, even it’s all the same information, is a completely different person because it could in fact be a different person.

So, Yahoo isn’t going to associate this new account with your old information based on that little bit of information.

When it comes down to it, it really is a very small bit of information: the email address, the zip code, and the birthdate. That’s not nearly enough to associate a new account with an old one. In fact, I’m absolutely positive that Yahoo simply doesn’t do that.

You would have to go through some form of customer service channels (if that were even available) to try and get at that old information. And as you point out, when an account is closed, that information is spooled off to backup, removed from their active system, and eventually it falls off the table completely. I’m sure that the backups themselves are archived after some amount of time.

We have no idea what the amount of time involved is, but I do know that when you are looking to get something from backup you have to jump through a number of hoops, way more than just happening to get three random pieces of information correct.

End of Answercast #21 Back to – Audio Segment


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2 comments on “If someone starts using my old email address could they find my information?”

  1. Perhaps not strictly on topic, but I was amazed to receive a bona fide email at my gmail address in reply to a message I hadn’t sent, but with a From address missing a dot. I was rather surprised to discover that gmail accepts but ignores punctuation preceding the @. Or at least it did when it happened, a year or two back.

    It’s happened twice since 2010.

  2. There is another side to this … if anyone (friend, acquaintance, or business) sends you e-mail at your old e-mail address, guess who gets it? So the question is, do ALL of those people and companies now have your new e-mail address, and ONLY your new e-mail address?

    This is one of the reasons that when people ask me how to close an account I strongly recommend that they consider keeping it open and simply stop using it – logging in only often enough to keep it active and check for old friends.


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