why are yahoo emails bouncing

Yahoo Emails Bouncing? Here Is Why – And What Yahoo Says About It

Have you experienced an unusual number of Yahoo emails bouncing lately? You’re not alone. We reached out to Yahoo for advice – read on to see what the company recommends. Also, learn how ZeroBounce’s feature Verify+ can help you avoid bounces from Yahoo-related emails.

This article was published in March 2019 and updated in April 2024.

October, 2023 update: Google announced a similar approach to inactive accounts.

Starting December, 2023, the tech giant will delete accounts that haven’t been used in more than two years. Google accounts include Gmail, so make sure to validate your email list and remove subscribers who rarely – or never – engage with your emails. Thus you’ll avoid bounces, protect your sender reputation and help your campaigns land in the inbox.

Since March 2019, senders worldwide have been getting more Yahoo email bounces. The inbox provider has intensified its clean-up process, causing a new set of challenges for bulk senders – especially marketers.

Dormant accounts are being disabled, deleted, and released to the public to claim. 

Why does this matter if you’re targeting Yahoo-related addresses with your email campaigns?

What are the steps you need to take to ensure your emails reach your audience – in the inbox?

Here are some things you can do to handle Yahoo email bounces, stay on top of your email hygiene, and maintain good email deliverability.

Why are Yahoo emails bouncing?

More Yahoo emails are bouncing due to the company’s efforts to clean up dormant accounts.

The process started years earlier, in June 2013, when Jay Rossiter, then Senior Vice President of the company, wrote a blog post explaining the initiative. (In the meantime, that article has been deleted.)

Yahoo was going to remove all dormant email accounts – meaning accounts that hadn’t been accessed in more than a year. Then, 30 days after deletion, the email provider was going to recycle those IDs and make them available again.

Rossiter explained that the initiative would allow people to claim the email ID “they’ve always wanted.”

yahoo email bounced back
Are your Yahoo emails bouncing? Read on to learn how to handle these emails and protect your sender reputation.

Email marketers saw a spike in Yahoo email bounces

While the deletion of dormant accounts shouldn’t come as a surprise from Yahoo, the implications are more profound — for both senders and recipients.

At the beginning of March 2019, Yahoo intensified its clean-up efforts and started to disable a large number of dormant accounts.

The purge resulted in massive bounce rates for bulk senders targeting Yahoo email users. It’s an issue they cannot solve easily – in particular for companies in the business-to-consumer (B2C) space.

What can you do if Yahoo’s measures are affecting your email communication?

My goal was to find the best answer to this question. 

First, I reached out to one of our deliverability experts at ZeroBounce, Chief Operating Officer Brian Minick.

To avoid bounces, clean your list consistently

Hitting “send” isn’t a guarantee that your email will land in the inbox. It could go to spam, get temporarily rejected by the receiving server, or it could hard bounce.

And with databases decaying fast, you have to weed out invalid contacts regularly to ensure you keep your bounce rates low.

Did you know that 25% of the average email database dies every year?

Aside from pruning invalid and fake emails, you need to also pay attention to disengaged accounts.

So, if it’s been a while since you’ve had your list checked, or if your bounces are higher than 2%, use an email verifier. It’s the most effective way to detect contacts that will cause your emails to bounce. 

In addition to invalid emails, an email verification service like ZeroBounce also detects:

  • role-based emails, such as office@ or contact@
  • catch-all emails, which you can then score to get more insight into their validity
  • abuse emails belonging to known complainers
  • many spam traps.

These are not only low-quality contacts, but they’re also risky to your sender reputation and inbox placement.

Want to see how ZeroBounce works? Try it for free

What about Yahoo email bounces? 

Good email verification services will detect and isolate invalid emails from your list. However, it’s challenging for these services to validate Yahoo accounts that are still in the “disabled” state. 

At that stage, the account is deactivated due to inactivity. However, if the owner logs back in, Yahoo will reinstate that account.

“Traditional email verifiers can’t verify the status of an email address in that state. The mailbox does actually exist, but it’s no longer accepting mail until the account owner logs back in and reactivates it,” explains ZeroBounce Chief Operating Officer Brian Minick.

As a result, the email will hard bounce – just as if you sent it to a non-existent account. 

Related: Learn the difference between soft and hard bounces

Verify+ helps you avoid Yahoo email bounces

Some of you have been gathering customer email addresses for a long time without emailing them. If your list has Yahoo, Verizon, and AOL email users, sending them a campaign now can feel like a lottery. How many of those Yahoo-related emails may end up bouncing?

There’s no reason to wonder anymore.

Instead, you can use Verify+, ZeroBounce’s proprietary method to validate Yahoo, Verizon, and AOL email addresses with 99% accuracy.

Verify+ determines the validity of disabled Yahoo-related email addresses (Yahoo, Verizon, and AOL). To assess their status, Verify+ sends a verification email.

  • A bounce-back indicates that the account has been disabled, then deleted, and no longer exists.
  • If the message is delivered, the email address is valid and safe to use in email campaigns.

Verify+ is an optional additional feature and is free of charge for all customers using ZeroBounce’s email validation service.

ZeroBounce introduces Verify+ feature to validate Yahoo email addresses and help senders avoid Yahoo email bounces, with picture of young African-American woman smiling and purple elements

Verify+ strictly complies with email industry and data privacy regulations and operates solely with the user’s opt-in consent. 

If you’d like to try the new feature, start a ZeroBounce account:

  • Receive 100 free email validations monthly.
  • Opt in to allow ZeroBounce to verify the Yahoo-related email addresses in your list.
  • Avoid further Yahoo email bounces and connect with your customers more effectively.

Remove dormant subscribers regularly

ZeroBounce COO Brian Minick also stresses how important it is for your email list health to part with people who don’t engage with your campaigns.

“These subscribers are doing you a disservice,” Minick says.

“First, they bring down your email deliverability as their lack of engagement tells mailbox providers your emails are irrelevant. Also, there’s a cost to keeping these contacts in your email marketing platform or CRM. So a chunk of your budget is going towards paying for subscribers that will never convert.”

“Finally,” our COO adds, “there’s the risk of those Yahoo emails getting disabled and deleted. That means your emails will bounce back and impact your sender reputation.”

Yahoo says: Follow email best practices

Many people have landed on this blog trying to understand why such a high number of Yahoo emails are bouncing and how to handle them.

We’ve been guiding our audience and customers as best as we could. But who could have better advice about Yahoo Mail bounce-backs if not Yahoo itself? 

Eager to find out what the company’s recommendations are, I reached out to Yahoo – specifically, to Marcel Becker, Sr. Director of Product Management.

Avoid buying email lists and prune your database regularly, Yahoo’s Marcel Becker advises.

Here’s what Marcel Becker says about avoiding Yahoo email bounces:

“There’s nothing Yahoo specific going on here. Part of best practices when sending to any mailbox provider should be to stop sending emails to non-existing mailboxes – and to unsubscribe them.”

Yahoo’s Sr. Director of Product Management went on to explain for ZeroBounce:

“If a mailbox becomes inactive or even removed, it usually means that the receiver has been inactive for a very, very long time. The sender should have removed the inactive recipient a long time ago anyway.”

So, Becker concludes:

“Unless they buy lists or don’t follow best practices, senders shouldn’t be hitting non-existing mailboxes.”

Marcel Becker, an email industry veteran, also guided us to read the company’s list of best practices for email senders

Below, see what else Marcel Becker told us about removing inactive subscribers to avoid Yahoo email bounces.

Related: Google and Yahoo enforce new rules for mass email senders

How to go about removing unengaged subscribers

Removing subscribers that don’t engage with your emails for long periods of time is a common email deliverability practice.

It helps to:

So, check your email marketing reports periodically to get insight on your inactive subscribers. 

But when should you go ahead and remove them? I asked Yahoo’s Marcel Becker for his best advice.

“I won’t comment on the actual number of days,” he said. “Senders can decide that for themselves.”

When does Yahoo disable an email account?

One thing to keep in mind is Yahoo’s timeframe for disabling inactive accounts. The mailbox provider deactivates an account after a minimum of six months since the account owner last logged in. 

However, for every year the account has existed, Yahoo adds two months to this period of time.

For instance, if someone’s had a Yahoo account for three years, they need to log into their account at least once a year to prevent deactivation.

So, when should you remove dormant email accounts?

Most people have a hard time letting go of subscribers. It’s easy to understand, considering what it takes to build an email list

Nonetheless, best practices advise a period of no more than six months.

If someone hasn’t engaged with any of your emails in the past 90 to 180 days – with 90 being the ideal value – remove that contact from your list. 

Keeping dormant accounts – any accounts, not just Yahoo – is a poor email marketing decision.

Here are five reasons why.

#1. It’s a waste of resources.

Your email service provider and CRM charge you for each subscriber in your list. Sending emails to mailboxes nobody checks anymore doesn’t make sense.

#2. Dormant accounts can bounce.

Whether operated by Yahoo or another provider, abandoned emails can be deleted anytime, increase your bounce rate, and affect your sender reputation.

#3. They affect your overall engagement.

And low email engagement reflects badly on your reputation and deliverability. Subscribers who don’t show any interest in your content or who have long abandoned their accounts can be the cause for your not landing in the inbox. 

#4. They can trigger spam complaints.

If annasmith@yahoo.com gets recycled and the ID is taken by another Anna Smith, the new account owner will wonder who you are. If you’re lucky, she’ll unsubscribe, but chances are she may label you as spam

#5. They might be turned into spam traps.

Internet service providers and blacklist providers frequently turn old, abandoned email addresses into spam traps. Recycled spam traps are common in email lists that lack maintenance.

What happens with deleted Yahoo email accounts?

Once disabled and deleted, abandoned Yahoo accounts can be recycled and available for anyone to claim. That’s what Yahoo’s former Senior Vice President Jay Rossiter explained in his June 2013 blog post.

At the time, the announcement caused concerns regarding possible identity thefts.

Here’s what Mat Honan of Wired wrote:

“This may have seemed like a good way to get people to log in again, or to try to convert new users to a groovy Yahoo address. But it’s a terrible idea. It means that people will be able to claim Yahoo IDs and use them to take over other people’s identities via password resets and other methods.”

I brought this up with Yahoo’s Sr. Director of Product Management, who pointed out that Yahoo doesn’t recycle all deleted email accounts. 

“MBPs (mailbox providers, editor’s note) might or might not recycle those identities at some point in the future. So, making assumptions on whether reactivated mailboxes might or might not be the same person is a waste of time,” Marcel Becker explained.

Sending sensitive information? Use the RRVS header

On the other hand, Becker offered a solution for senders to verify the ownership of an email account.

“A good tool we recommend senders to use in certain cases, if they send sensitive email, is the RRVS header,” Yahoo’s expert said.

RRVS stands for Require-Recipient-Valid-Since and is an extension of the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP). The tool was developed by Facebook, in partnership with Yahoo, a year after Yahoo began deleting dormant accounts.

In a blog post he published in October 2014, Facebook software engineer Murray Kucherawy addressed the potential unauthorized access to Facebook accounts by use of recycled Yahoo emails. 

The engineer wrote:

“If a Facebook account were connected to a recycled Yahoo email address, that account could be taken over by the new Yahoo account owner via a password change request if no additional protections were in place.”

Yahoo email header

What does the RRVS standard do?

To mitigate this problem, the RRVS – now a Proposed Standard – allows Facebook to insert a timestamp within an email. That timestamp indicates when Facebook last confirmed the ownership of a Yahoo account.

“If the account changed hands since our last confirmation,” Kucherawy wrote, “Yahoo can just drop the message, preventing delivery of sensitive messages to the wrong hands.”

If you want to learn more about this, Jaikumar Vijayan of Security Intelligence did a great job explaining the RRVS email standard.

Yahoo terms regarding account inactivity

It’s also worth noting Yahoo’s Terms and Conditions as they do warn about possible account deletion due to inactivity.

See section 7c:

“We may temporarily or permanently suspend or terminate your account or impose limits on or restrict your access to parts or all of the Services at any time, without notice and for any reason, including, but not limited to, violation of these Terms, court order, or inactivity.”

They refer to Yahoo accounts deactivation and deletion in other sections, such as 13, g 4: “If your account shows extended periods of inactivity in accordance with our account deletion policy.”

Wrapping up: how to manage and avoid Yahoo email bounces 

As Marcel Becker advised, to avoid Yahoo email bounces, keep best practices in mind and remove inactive subscribers consistently. 

To determine the validity of Yahoo, Verizon, and AOL contacts, opt in for Verify+ when you run your database through ZeroBounce’s email validator. At no cost to you, our software will check these addresses so you can avoid emailing non-existing accounts and keep bounces at bay.

Need more guidance on handling Yahoo emails or help to validate your list? Drop us a line anytime – we’re here for you 24/7 via live chat, email or phone.

FAQs about Yahoo email bounces

Why are my Yahoo emails bouncing?

Yahoo emails are bouncing because of Yahoo’s policy of disabling and deleting accounts that haven’t been used in more than a year. Yahoo then makes those accounts available again for people to claim. Due to Yahoo’s clean-up process, mass email senders are experiencing a high bounce rate on Yahoo email addresses.

Why is my Yahoo email bouncing?

A Yahoo email address bounces when it’s been either disabled or deactivated due to inactivity. Yahoo disables email accounts that haven’t been active in more than a year. However, if that user logs back into their account, that address becomes active again.

Why are Yahoo emails undeliverable?

Yahoo emails are undeliverable when the email address you’re trying to reach is invalid. The address may be misspelled, causing your email to bounce back. Alternatively, the email address may be accurate, but it may have been deleted by Yahoo due to a long period of inactivity.