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I have a free webmail account that I have been using for around ten years now. Over the past two years I have almost phased out using this address.

I have concerns around accounts that I may have created on forums and other sites like eBay etc that I may have lost track of over the years that are either now inactive or "closed".

If I close this email account, then someone signs up using the same username then attempts to sign up to one of these sites, they might end up doing a password reset or reactivating my old account and getting my old history etc there?

Is it safe to close this account? Or would it be better to keep it active but not in use?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

No. Never close email accounts that are associated with you or any other accounts you have/had.

After your address is free, somebody can take it and use it to recover other accounts, mess your relationships with old contacts, or even use it to commit illegal activities (death threats to politicians, subscriptions to child porn sites, etc..), and if the email address can be traced to you, you'll get yourself in troubles.

My advice is this:

  1. Change your password to a randomly generated and long password. Save it in your password manager.

  2. Learn your service provider's inactivity policy. Google will close accounts after 9 months, Hotmail after 360 days, Yahoo after 6 + 2x months (x is the age of your account in years).

  3. Schedule a repeated event in your calender to remind you to login to your accounts so they don't expire on their own.

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Thanks, exactly what I was thinking. Thought I was being overly paranoid though, but apparently not! –  user12199 Mar 19 '13 at 22:42
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This is why most of my e-mail accounts run on my servers on my domains. Granted I kind of take it to an extreme. –  AJ Henderson Mar 19 '13 at 23:23
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