I have a common email (gmail, outlook, mail, etc) provider that I use to purchase from different merchants (amazon, target, etc).

Since some of these providers have had breaches before, do there exist security best practices around deleting purchase order emails as soon as possible? Would it matter as action "delete" is whatever the provider deems "delete" to be? I single out purchase orders as certain merchants include a great deal of information (fedex tracking #s) in purchase orders.

  • 1
    It depends on your paranoia level actually. I assume you are not CIA agent (hopefully), so who will be looking at your POs and why? If the hackers leak, say, 100 million accounts' data, each account having thousands of emails - who will go for your account in particular? Yes, this can happen of course, but I'd say with that huge fear level you shouldn't be using third-party email services at all for any sensitive data. Anyways, you can never know whether your "deleted" emails are actually deleted from the company's storage, or they are just marked as deleted but still kept there.
    – Alex
    Oct 25 at 14:14
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    Why do you want to delete purchase orders? If your email accounts were compromised, then it becomes easy to simply log into all these merchants and look up all the personal info you seem to want to protect. I'm not sure what the benefit is or what dangers you are seeing.
    – schroeder
    Oct 25 at 14:20
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    It's not uncommon for businesses to have email retention policies, such as requiring all email over two years to be purged, in order to reduce this risk without seriously impacting business. Calculate your risk of attack versus the chance you might need to refer back to the deleted messages and you'll probably conclude that this level of paranoia is unjustified. Two years is a good number.
    – Adam Katz
    Oct 25 at 22:05

If you have used your email to purchase from merchants, you should assume that this email name is public. For the password, best practices recommend to use a different password per merchant or at least to never use you main email password on any site (except of course for your mail provider...).

Deleting a purchase order email only makes sense if you want to protect it from a local attacker (someone able to read you own mailbox). You have no direct control on the client database of the merchants.

If you trust the merchant to use enough good practices to actually securely delete your data when you ask for it on their site, you could trust them as well to keep it secure from the random hackers.

And remember: in some countries and/or for certain items, merchants are required to be able to keep logs of their activities for a time (generally about 1 year) and give them to authorities in case of a legal action.

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