Following in the footsteps of another email giant Hotmail (now Outlook), Yahoo has begun a campaign of recycling their email addresses. Although it does make sense that any email account that has not been used for a full year has likely been permanently abandoned, the policy announcement has sparked flame wars across the internets and serious concerns for email marketers everywhere.
Gird yourself for a huge hard bounce rate jump
The way that Yahoo is implementing its turnover of email addresses could create a serious problem for email marketers as a huge number of them will start hard bouncing on July 15 and will continue to do so for one month until by mid-August those addresses will be transferred to someone else. Therefore any email marketer could see a considerable jump in their bounce rates as Yahoo email addresses which they may have previously believed were still active but the customer was simply not responding will now be boing-boinging at an alarming rate. Given that one of the primary distinguishing characteristics of proper email marketing practice is to keep the hard bounce rate to fractions of one percent Yahoo’s unilateral decision will cause much consternation among marketers, email service providers and internet service providers.
Skip bounce month and you’ll be mailing to someone else
An even greater problem will be faced by infrequent mailers. If you send out a bi-monthly newsletter you very well might miss that entire “bounce month” and find that your newsletter will now be received by a completely different person who might even be in another country! That individual is almost certain to dump it into their Spam folder and your email reputation will take a hit… and it could well be a serious one. If you are one of the low frequency marketing crowd, you have to make a priority to email every single one of your Yahoo subscribers during “bounce month” and meticulously delete every bounced address to keep Yahoo email users who may have never heard of you from getting your newsletters.
A gift to criminals of your entire identity
The current best practice across email services in recycling addresses used as spamtraps calls for the bounce period to be set at no less than a year. For a major email address provider such as Yahoo to set the bounce period to just one month is being seen by many email marketers as far too short of a period which will create significant problems as completely new users take over older email addresses. However, one of the most widely criticized aspect of this quick turnover recycling program is that it will make it very easy for criminals to take over the identity of a previous user. Once they have the email address it’s a simple task to google the user’s previous online activity linked to that account and that could lead right to their social media pages where millions of people unwisely identify themselves with extensive personal information. Then the process of identity theft becomes a walk in Yahoo Park.
Reset passwords through your old email & they have your accounts
To take the problem of identity theft even further, most secure websites allow password resets as long as the user can confirm through the registered email address that they have received the confirmation email. So when a criminal has your old email address (which you have negligently not changed… and millions will be just as negligent) all they need to do is to reset the password, confirm with a reply email, and they are into your accounts: financial, utility, retailers, government, forums, and just about everywhere else. They now, for all intents and purposes, have become the online you and can proceed to commandeer just about everything you do on the net.
Yahoo has moved with alarming alacrity through this email address recycling program and although the company swears that they have placed powerful security measures in place to avoid the worst of the problems, the bottom line remains that email marketers are in for a bout of hard bounces and spam reports through no fault of their own whatsoever.