Not to be outdone by its rivals caught up in the PRISM ‘scandal’, Yahoo! has decided the best way to deal with lapsed users is to give their private details to the first person that asks for it. Okay, well it isn’t really that bad but their recent announcement that they will start recycling dormant email accounts on August 15th will have significant repercussions for the both ecommerce and the email industry.
About two years ago my iTunes account was hacked using a well known Apple scam. The hackers just need your account ID, which they use to download apps. How can they download apps without the password you may ask? They can’t, but when you unlock your password those apps are downloaded to your device and they get the cash because it was their app that was being downloaded. The whole ordeal around getting this sorted is another post for a different blog, but the important thing here was the remedy I used to fix it, which was to create a Yahoo! account using a random password generator to create the bit before the ‘@’. So far so good, no dictionary attack has cracked this email account.
The problem is, that I don’t ever log into the account (clearly I will have to add this to the list of monthly tasks like cleaning out the washing machine filter and checking the smoke detector). What would happen if I missed this announcement from Yahoo!? Come the middle of August somebody could take this email address from me and suddenly have access to my iTunes account. The password reset would go to the address that they control and away they go. If I was like many people including Mat Honan of Wired Magazine, this email address would also be used for other things and I would have lost control of all of them.
This will also clearly have implications for me as an email marketer. Loads has been written over the past few years about removing data that has not opened or clicked in more than twelve months from your list. The thinking is that inactive addresses are being used as spam traps, although there has been a lot of disagreement on this by email experts such as Dela Quist. Regardless of which side of the fence you fall on this topic, you need a plan in place to be executed between the 15th of July and the 15th of August because if you email a recycled address – you will have spammed them.
Yahoo! will hard bounce all of the addresses that are to be recycled during this thirty day period, so you need to take this opportunity to tidy up your Yahoo! addresses.
There are well over 3 Billion email addresses in the world. It is not surprising that the email application providers want to start recycling them. Let’s face it, jimsmith@yahoo is a lot better than jimsmith345@yahoo. This is going to become a regular part of our world, so we better develop some strategies to address it.