Recycled email addresses may threaten consumer trust

Both Microsoft and Yahoo! announced new procedures for recycling inactive email addresses. Usernames that have been inactive for 360 days will be deactivated and reoffered to new users. From a consumer’s perspective, these policies will allow for more new users to claim usernames they may prefer (such as johndoe) as opposed to more awkward alternatives (like johndoe1983.) However, the recycling of these old addresses brings up a host of security concerns, especially for the owners of the old accounts, whose personal emails may now mistakenly be sent to the wrong person.

While Microsoft has been rolling out the new policy quietly with its Hotmail, Live and Outlook accounts, Yahoo!’s transition has been much more drastic. Regardless, marketers would be wise to pay attention to this trend and do their best to refrain from mistakenly sending emails to these newly active addresses — especially when the emails contain personally identifiable information (PII). Being able to identify and remove inactive email addresses from mailing lists will help marketers avoid threatening their customers’ trust.

Understanding when email addresses are truly inactive and proactively removing them from subscriber lists allows for the inactive address to be removed from a marketer’s mailing list even before it is scheduled to be recycled, avoiding the concerns altogether.

Comparing email activity not just in their own list, but across all members of a consortium, such as Email Insights from Experian Marketing Services, for example, marketers can identify the difference between truly inactive email addresses and those that may not be interacting with certain brands. This enables marketers to protect their sender reputation not only with ISP’s, but also with the new consumers who gain the recycled email addresses.

Identifying these changing email addresses can help marketers maintain consumer trust by avoiding accidental sending of personal information to new account owners. Beyond the security concerns, remaining knowledgeable and up-to-date about customers is important for marketers in all industries.

Find out more about Email Insights and how it can help marketers identify customers in all channels.