If you haven’t signed in to your old Yahoo email account in a long time, you may want to take a few moments out of your busy weekend to do so. On 11:59 p.m. PDT on Sunday, July 14, any Yahoo account that hasn’t been used for over a year will be declared abandoned and recycled, giving complete strangers a chance to snatch up your old username.
On one level, opening up old, dormant email addresses makes sense. People have been signing up for free Yahoo accounts since the 1990s, and a significant portion of these have long since been abandoned. That’s a lot of valuable digital real estate that’s being squatted on.
But there are some very troubling privacy implications involved in having a complete stranger pick up ownership of an old email address of yours. Not only could someone easily impersonate you, they could receive a lot of sensitive email that’s intended for your eyes only. After all, what happens if your bank sends a password-recovery email to your old Yahoo account because you simply forgot to update your information?
According to Yahoo, there are security measures in place to keep your personal information safe. “We're working with partners and peers in the space collaboratively on a program that will help them understand if an account has been recycled and potentially has a new owner,” explained Yahoo’s Dylan Casey to Cnet. “For example, if this is a user on Amazon who's trying to recover their password, we'll help them understand if the account has been recycled so the password information won't get sent to the new user of that account.
Can you trust Yahoo’s new “foolproof” security measures? Probably, but as we’ve seen with companies like Facebook, making a blunder with your private data is all too easy.
Of course, there’s no need to put anything to chance. Just sign in to your old Yahoo account this weekend, and it won’t be recycled – at least for another 12 months.