Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

After deleting an on-line account the ID is eventually made available for re-use. It's the same name but a different owner, and that can confuse people.

I have terminated my Yahoo account. There's a clause in the form that says that after 90 days my user ID can be made available to others. Does that mean that if someone then snaps up my old user name they could start impersonating me? Would he see everyone on my contact list? Would my old contacts see him and think I was back on-line?

Could that person try and impersonate you? Yes.

Will it be easy? Maybe.

This actually applies to all the services, not just Yahoo. The "90 days" part might change, but the basics would still apply.

When you close or abandon your account with any of the email or IM service providers, they typically do exactly what you've seen called out in the Yahoo text: after some period of time they make your abandoned user name available again. To anyone. All someone has to do it sign up and ask for it.

Now, exactly when it's returned to the available pool of names varies greatly. If you close your account with your ISP they could make your ID available again the next day if they wanted to. Most free services like Yahoo and others wait at least 30 days and most wait much more.

Typically, if you attempt to use your old name before time runs out it resets the clock. I mean, if you're successfully logging into it, you're clearly not "abandoning" it. Even if you go through a provider's steps to cancel an account, there's often a grace period after that where you can change your mind, login and "un-cancel" it.

Things get a little confusing when folks use two different services from the same provider, say email and instant messaging, that use the same ID. Using either one is usually enough to keep the other alive.

When your account is finally, really and completely closed by the provider, I believe several things happen:

  • Any email, files or other items stored in the account are irretrievably deleted.

  • Any contacts, friends or buddy lists are irretrievably deleted.

  • I hope that buddy lists maintained by the provider that reference your ID will remove you.

(Sometimes, as in the case of Hotmail, these things can actually happen well before the account is finally closed.)

The last point, however, is both incomplete and uncertain.

For example, I might have your account in my contacts in MSN Instant Messenger. When your account is finally truly deleted MSN could remove you from my list. I'd actually expect it to.

However these services can't remove you from lists that they don't manage. That means if someone adds you to an address book that's not part of the service, there's no way to remove that when your ID is deleted.

Even more likely are services that allow you to maintain a kind of combined address book, buddy and contact list where you can add information of your own to each contact. In these cases the services may not be able to just delete the entry, because they'd be deleting additional information that your old buddy may have entered. I know I'd be annoyed if the system just deleted the whole thing out from underneath me.

So in summary, if someone picks up your ID after it's been deleted:

  • Any data in your account is lost, so they will not see your contact list or old email.

  • It's possible that it might look like you "came back" to people who used to be your buddies. It depends on the service, and how your buddies kept track of your ID.

In the long run, if you're at all concerned and particularly for free accounts, I'd simply keep the account open so that someone else doesn't get it.

To be totally honest, it's one reason why I'm very confused by the number of people who are looking for ways to delete their account immediately. All they're really doing is making it possible for someone else to sign up and get their old ID that much sooner.

Important: sadly, since I know it will happen, I'll delete any comments to this article that are simply requests to delete an account.

Article C2991 - April 9, 2007 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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38 Comments
Kathy
April 13, 2007 6:55 PM

Wouldn't it depend on the password associated with the account whether it showed up on someone's buddy list? When I log in, I'm xxx@yyy with password zzz. If someone else becomes xxx@yyy with password uuu, wouldn't their set up be totally different? Ergo, different settings so it doesn't trigger the buddy list??

LJ
April 17, 2007 2:48 PM

Good article. I work in website development and we were trying to decide whether or not we should allow users on our websites to change their email addresses on the accounts that they use to place orders. And your article helped us decide quickly that yes, we should allow users to change their email addresses on accounts. Thanks!

nic
July 7, 2007 4:27 PM

i have a myspace acount with a deleted e mail account as my username. but i have forgot my password. on myspace they have a password finder. they send your password to your e mail. but that e mail account is closed down. is there someway i can reopen that e mail account?

Nicole
August 2, 2007 6:51 AM

I need some help. There used to be a website that anyone could access ... I could simply type in my full email address and password and I woudl be redirected to my emial whether it was work, yahoo, or whatever. Does anyone know that webaddress?

Go
August 27, 2007 2:45 AM

Hello,
I had a yahoo account that i closed 3 years ago. Trying to register with the same ID, i noticed that this ID is still not available. I did all the things to make sure this ID is not taken by someone else. So i guess yahoo had marked my ID and never let it free.
So my queston is:
Is it possible that yahoo can mark some ID's like unavailable forever (for security reasons or for other reasons), even if they are not taken?
Thanks.

Paul
September 4, 2007 11:37 PM

An easy way around this is to get yourself a domain name , set all your emails to be shown as from the domain and not the actual email address and set up the mail forwarding on the domain host to come to your actual inbox.

(It's often possible to download webmail using outlook express for these purposes).

Then when you move mail provider or change your account just change the address the domain host forwards your mail to, nobody will be any the wiser.

It's worked for me over 3 ISP changes and many many account changes.

t johnson
September 20, 2007 12:16 PM

Hello,how are you?A friend of mine is working on a large business consultant event, in which he wants to e-mail an invitation out to hundreds of people.His e-mail list is 18 pgs. long.How can he check these list to get rid of duplicate e-mails?And how can he batch them, so that no one else sees each others e-mail addresses?Can any of the two questions,I just asked about, be done by just changing the computer's settings?Is additional software needed to erase duplicates,sort and organize all those e-mails?He has Outlook on his PC.Thanks so much for your help.

Canh Lam
November 15, 2007 8:42 PM

Hi,

I notice that recently yahoo's close my accounts just after few days not sign on to my email account.
This is something I've never seen for years since
I open my accounts with yahoo.

I tried to reopen my account but was unable to
do it. I guess yahoo's asking some info. I may
have not provide to them correctly base on their
database info.

Not sure if anyone out there who is experiencing
this and how to get back the old account.

Any tips or resolution to regain the closed
email account would appreciated.

CL.

kevin
December 7, 2007 9:46 PM

my friend told me that after 90 days she didnt sign on her yahoo messenger account.now she could not sign on to the account.but sometime i go online,her yahoo messenger online.it is possible if a new user still on my messenger list?how long before yahoo close your account if you dont use it?how long before your name available for someone else to register?please help me with this questions.thank you

Terence
December 31, 2007 4:08 AM

Well i have a friend who has not operated his e-mail id since the last 2 and a half year?

Now due to certain reasons he wants some emails stored in the yahoo account.


So is it possible to excess the same account and retrive the emails stored 2 and a half years ago?

Leo A. Notenboom
December 31, 2007 3:08 PM

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA1

No.

Leo


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Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)

iD8DBQFHeXZ7CMEe9B/8oqERAosuAJsFxSz7cDit1vNpU6DywFF4sbPO+ACeP22j
Q4KoiUbKgVwWianEkw0QOvY=
=lnni
-----END PGP SIGNATURE-----

SSIM
January 6, 2008 6:44 AM

i yes this your ID will remove you now
bye

Rana
February 17, 2008 3:53 PM

How do you contact service providers? I deleted my account for yahoo today, and need it back just to delete my myspace account since my myspace was under that email account. Please help me, if you have the chance, thank you Leo.

raghu
June 16, 2008 2:01 AM

how to reopen my closed yahoo email account?":

mandy
January 8, 2009 7:17 AM

Hi,
well my question is that when closing a hotmail account is there a wat to reopen it and have all ur friends still there?? my account was closed down and now i can reopen it.. it was just closed 2 days ago.. it be nice for some feedback.. thanks..

Sulaiman
February 21, 2009 3:04 PM

When I signed onto my msn & went into my email I got this message

"Account Closed. Access Denied.
Your account has been closed because of concerns over violations of the Terms of Use. If you want your account to be re-opened, please follow these instructions:
1. Click on the link below, and complete the e-form by providing your name, an email address where we can reach you, and the name of the account that has been closed.

2. In the box labelled Please Select An Option, choose "Connection/Sign In Problem".

3. In the next box label ed Please Select An Option, choose "Account Closed. Access Denied."

4. Complete the two additional questions with a red star (*) by them (they are required fields) and click Submit.

An agent will review your account and notify you within 24-hours if your account has been re-opened. Please DO NOT submit multiple tickets, as this will delay processing of your original ticket.

Submit a request to re-open your account

When I clicked on the "Submit a request to re-open your account" Link It did not help me at all it was just morpointlessss links.

For a few months I have beereceivingng emails from "postmaster" or something like that & I just deleted them straight awaythinkink this is why my account wclosedesd.

Renee
April 2, 2009 10:49 PM

My hotmail account has been closed and when i try to reopen i cant get anywhere.
When I clicked on the "Submit a request to re-open your account" Link It did not help me at all it was just more pointless links.
For a few couple of weeks I have been receivingng emails from "postmaster" or something like that & I just deleted them straight away thinking this is why my account was closed.

Biju John
April 11, 2009 12:16 AM

Dear Sir,
My hotmail e-mail account has been closed it seems to have violated their terms of use. please advise me how to re-open my account.

Thanks and regards,
Biju

alaa
April 27, 2009 6:36 AM

i sent a message to hotmail and i did not what to do in my problem that my account has been closed and i opened the link supmit a request to re-open your account then i did not find the e-support form.I fill the form in msn service but i did not find the result please help me and send the solution quickly i need my account as possible as you can please

dave
May 6, 2009 4:14 PM

hi ive got same prob as sulaiman & renee & others email acc closed violation etc...cant get link and cant get to customer support for help could really do with getting it reopened so if anyone can help would be greatful.

anass
May 10, 2009 4:48 AM

When I signed onto my msn & went into my email I got this message

"Account Closed. Access Denied.
Your account has been closed because of concerns over violations of the Terms of Use. If you want your account to be re-opened, please follow these instructions:
1. Click on the link below, and complete the e-form by providing your name, an email address where we can reach you, and the name of the account that has been closed.

2. In the box labelled Please Select An Option, choose "Connection/Sign In Problem".

3. In the next box label ed Please Select An Option, choose "Account Closed. Access Denied."

4. Complete the two additional questions with a red star (*) by them (they are required fields) and click Submit.

Bertus
May 13, 2009 10:22 AM

Account Closed. Access Denied.
Your account has been closed because of concerns over violations of the Terms of Use. If you want your account to be re-opened, please follow these instructions:
1. Click on the link below, and complete the e-form by providing your name, an email address where we can reach you, and the name of the account that has been closed.

2. In the box labelled Please Select An Option, choose "Connection/Sign In Problem".

3. In the next box label ed Please Select An Option, choose "Account Closed. Access Denied."

4. Complete the two additional questions with a red star (*) by them (they are required fields) and click Submit

Magda
May 13, 2009 8:46 PM

Same thing happened to me. Account was closed and acces is denied. WHAT DO WE DO NOW. I keep sending emails to the abuse@hotmail.com but nothing comes out of it. It says that an anwser should be given within 24 hours - well it's been over 2 weeks now. Is there a possibility that my email may never be re-opened and all my emails may be lost? Can someone actually help?

Yes, this is Hotmail, it has almost no customer service, and it's very possible that your account has been lost. I hear about it all the time for many, many different reasons.
If there's any chance at all, I would have you start here: How do I contact Windows Live Hotmail customer service?
- Leo
14-May-2009

shehr
May 22, 2009 1:48 AM

Thanks!today I was just thinking to delete my account without thiking,but than,Thanks to God,it struck in my mind,that if someone else started using it.......that will not be good...and after reading ur answer...im resolved that if someone want to delete account,one should first tell friends that im going to do so....and if someone else start using this id,be sure that it will be not me...afcourse...thanks

bader
June 6, 2009 3:13 AM

Same thing happened to me. Account was closed and acces is denied. WHAT i can DO NOW

Lubnah
June 20, 2009 10:06 AM

As soon as tried to access my email i received this message. i do not understand anything as i have not not something wrong!i have been receiving several postmaster delivery notifications failure when i didn't even send those emails. i deleted all those postmasters and now my account is closed!do you have an idea how i can reopen my account plz??? when i tried to access the link i got nothing so i couldn't solve this problem. could you please help me out i dunno what to do!!!

Your account has been closed because of concerns over violations of the Terms of Use. If you want your account to be re-opened, please follow these instructions:

1. Click on the link below, and complete the e-form by providing your name, an email address where we can reach you, and the name of the account that has been closed.

2. In the box labeled Please Select An Option, choose "Connection/Sign In Problem".

3. In the next box labeled Please Select An Option, choose "Account Closed. Access Denied."

4. Complete the two additional questions with a red star (*) by them (they are required fields) and click Submit.

An agent will review your account and notify you within 24-hours if your account has been re-opened. Please DO NOT submit multiple tickets, as this will delay processing of your original ticket.

mohamed hafez
June 22, 2009 12:31 AM

the same problem of my hot mail which is account closed according to terms of use and i have sended to abuse@hotmail.com and do all but they answer that it's not in their boundary so wht the solution is????? i have work to do, will it be solved automatically or wht , to whom we can geet specific solution???????? help me out here!!

rao
June 27, 2009 2:10 AM

my e-mail account has blocked. i not know it reason of blocking. plz help me, that i reopen my account again.

angeline trene
June 27, 2009 11:16 AM

can you please open my account for some reason it was closed.

Safa
July 2, 2009 4:15 PM

my account has been closed and access denied.. when i try to submit a request to re-open my account the link appears to be brocken
plz tell me wt i should do

thx

samar nassar
August 29, 2009 3:08 AM

the same done with me i didn't forget my password but i can't reopen it do i make another one?

kelley giroux
January 28, 2010 3:02 PM

I have this email account and I went to sign in and it said my windows live id was wrong. I know its right and then it said i had to change it from @sympatico.ca to @live.ca and I had to and now all my emails are gone and all my scholarship and college emails are on there. How do i get them back?

Rangi
February 26, 2010 6:07 AM

hey i just need help re-opening my email i canr receive mail or anyhting can someone help me if u want to reply please reply to [email address removed] thanks

Janet
May 17, 2010 7:18 AM

I closed my msn hotmail/Messenger account and think I closed the windows live ID as well about a month ago, now I fear I need access to it, is it possible to recover it?

You can try logging in again, but if that fails then I don't know of a way to recover a closed account.
Leo
18-May-2010

Joseph F. Yates
September 16, 2010 3:26 PM

I closed a PEOPLE PC account and could not retrieve it to my Yahoo account . Is there any way that I can get my old mail because I cannot even open outlook express . Please advise .

Calvin Stovall
November 13, 2010 3:28 PM

this is my father account and he for got his passward and he wanted to see if he can reopen it

aarushi
February 2, 2012 1:50 AM

actually i have this yahoo email id with xyz@yahoo.in , i want the same id as xyz@yahoo.com . so shud i delete my previous account in order to get a new 1 ? because i can be logged in as both xyz@yahoo.in and xyz@yahoo.com . but my emails only come for xyz@yahoo.in ?

connie
February 2, 2012 10:38 AM

@Aarushi
Unfortunately computers see the two email accounts as completely separate. There is more information in this article:
How do I change my email address

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