Old email addresses loitering on the internet are perfect targets for hackers and scammers. Delete email accounts to prevent fraud and identity theft. Every email service works on a slightly different model, but deleting most services is a straightforward process. Don't expect immediate results, however, as it may take up to several months for the permanent changes to take effect.
Why Delete Email Accounts
Deleting email accounts prevents fraud on inactive accounts, but several other reasons to delete an email account exist as well. Old accounts are vulnerable, and removing these accounts is worth the small effort to ensure they no longer exist.
Deleting old business accounts due to a business closure ensures that the email address no longer receives messages. In many instances, a business email account is attached to the domain name for its website. Deleting everything wipes the business identity and point of contact and information off the internet. Commercial email accounts and domain names have associated costs, and closing the accounts eliminates this unnecessary overhead for the owner.
Before deleting an email account, take a few minutes to consider the action. When an account is permanently deleted, all data and contents of the email are lost forever. Save your address book and any important information on a separate hard drive before following through with the deletion.
For business accounts, consider the consequences of losing the domain associated with the email address. Once it is surrendered, the domain and associated email addresses reenter the public domain where other buyers might purchase and hold the accounts.
Deleting Gmail Accounts
Gmail is the most common email host for personal and business use. Personal accounts are free, and business accounts are hosted under G Suite, where a business can hold multiple email accounts on the same domain along with cloud storage and other add-on services.
You can delete Gmail accounts using a phone or tablet, but a computer is ideal. Gmail offers the option to download your data before deleting the account so that you can access the information after the deletion. If you do not want any information from the account, skip this step.
Open the Gmail account and click Data and Personalization, followed by Delete a Service on Your Account. If you are not already signed in at this point, you are prompted to enter your credentials for account access. Locate the Gmail service and click the trash bin adjacent to the service. Confirm and follow the steps to delete the account.
You have the option to suspend the account in the event you want to restore it in the future. Choose the permanent delete option to eliminate the account rather than suspend it.
Other Email Platforms
Other email platforms such as Yahoo and Microsoft function in much the same manner. Many offer the option to either suspend or permanently delete an email account. Access the settings for the account and go to the options for custom settings and account deletion. Each host has a slightly different but intuitive system to delete the accounts.
Keep in mind that an administrator controls business accounts, and you must have permission to delete these accounts. The business owner or management often functions as the administrator on all accounts, and an employee rarely can delete a business account without consent from the account holder. If you are the account holder, deleting the business email uses the same process as a personal email. Deleting the entire account is more involved, however.