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  1. tbax929 says:

    Considering how hard it was to cancel and AOL account back when a lot of us had them, and were paying for them, I’m not at all surprised that it’s impossible to cancel an AOL e-mail account.

    • K-Bo says:

      As I said above, they reserve the right to close them, but probably only do so if they get a lot of requests for your user name, because although active users bring in more ad money than inactive users, inactive users still pad the number of users they claim when trying to sell ads.

  2. bazzlevi says:

    Just stop using it. What’s the big deal? Delete it from your bookmarks and don’t log in anymore. Eventually it will be deleted for inactivity, but even if it isn’t, what do you care? Just stop logging in to it. This has to be the biggest non-issue I’ve ever seen on Consumerist.

    • bazzlevi says:

      From the AOL terms of service under the heading “Inactive Status”:

      “In addition to the termination rights that we have under these Terms of Service, we also reserve the right to deactivate your Screen Name if your Screen Name account has been inactive for more than 90 days. The only exception to this rule is if your Screen Name is assigned to a fee-based service for which you are a subscriber in good standing. This means you must use your account regularly, such as, by logging into a Service with your Screen Name in order to keep your registration active. If we deactivate a Screen Name, we have the right to reassign that Screen Name to another user.”

      So as I said, just stop using it!

      • K-Bo says:

        It says the reserve the right to close it, not that they will. I just went and checked, and mine that had been inactive way over 90 days, and it is still there.

        • bazzlevi says:

          Guess what! Every time you check it, the clock starts over. Just ignore it. Change the profile to all fake information if you are concerned about it. But really, if you’re concerned about it, then don’t use the internet, because all of these “free” services harvest information.

    • microzeta says:

      The “big deal” is as long as the account’s open, AOL potentially retains personally identifiable information about this user in their records. You might not care about that, but Jim obviously does, and it is a legitimate concern that everyone, especially AOL, should not just casually dismiss.

      For Jim, here’s what I would do: change the name, phone, address etc you have associated with this account to a fake identity, delete all the e-mails from within your account, then change your password to some 50-character long mash on your keyboard.

      • [MG]LooseCannon says:

        “The “big deal” is as long as the account’s open, AOL potentially retains personally identifiable information about this user in their records”

        And you really believe that if the account is “closed” then all that information magically disappears from their system?

        Sorry, that isn’t how it works. Even if the account is closed, that information will stay forever in their records, the only difference being that it now says “closed” on it.

        “You might not care about that, but Jim obviously does, and it is a legitimate concern that everyone, especially AOL, should not just casually dismiss.”

        Who does and doesn’t care isn’t really relevant here. What is relevant is that you clearly have no idea how this works. Also, are you a close, personal friend of Jim’s? No where in the article does it say that Jim cares about that at all.

        Given that the only difference between “open” and “closed” for a free AOL account is the user’s ability to access it, there is effectively no difference between closing it and simply no longer checking it.

        • supercereal says:

          Exactly. People don’t realize that online information doesn’t just “go away” if you cancel an account. So guess what, folks — they already have the information on record and will retain it for as long as it’s useful to them, perhaps indefinitely. Closing the account only makes the account information inaccessible to the user, which is probably a worse situation to be in.

          • Lucky225 says:

            A big x2 to everyone else, biggest non issue ever, if you didn’t want them having your information to begin with you shouldn’t have ever signed up — even changing the information before you stop using it doesn’t guarantee they don’t have a log of how the account looked prior to your ‘updating’ of information. Just stop signing into it.

            • jiubreyn says:

              Jim just wants his free account cancelled. Telling him what he “shouldn’t” have done or things that do not help him cancel his account are just filler comments. — With that said, some companies “are required” to keep a record of all transactions between their customers and themselves and therefore do not delete, but de-activate your account.

              If you are unable to achieve a resolution with AOL directly in way of deleting/removing your details, you second best bet may be to just insert dummy information. :( Best wishes.

        • smileboot says:

          This is why you go to your personal information settings before you abandon the account and place inaccurate information. I.E change name to IPFreely.

        • Jerkface says:

          If there’s no account to log into, and no account to receive emails, then there is virtually no danger of rogues accessing his account and combing the build up for usable personal information.

          The truth is you don’t know what Jim wants any better than the other guy, so why are you giving him such a hard time? Completely unnecessary.

      • MentallyRetired says:

        FYI deleting your account comes with zero assurance that your personal information will be deleted. Anyone with a Facebook account go ahead and delete it. Leave it closed for a week, a month, a year, then try signing in with your information and all of your account information will still be there, your friend network intact, as if you never “deleted” your account.

  3. Razor512 says:

    cant he just simply forward some spam emails to aol and that will automatically get his account flagged for removal?

  4. GrantRyan says:

    AOL free accounts are deleted for inactivity after two or three months. Just don’t touch it.

    • aguacarbonica says:

      No they aren’t. The other day I thought it would be fun to see if I could log in to my account that I haven’t used in five years. It was still there albeit with no emails in the inbox.

    • GadgetsAlwaysFit says:

      No they aren’t. I didn’t use mine for years and I thought one day I would test logging back in. And it let me…

  5. MedicallyNeedy says:

    Wouldn’t it be easier to crack a password to a forgotten email account? Can someone jump on an old email address and intercept emails and passwords?

    • lffrc says:

      I was just leaving a comment based on that very topic. Correct you are.

    • KillerBee says:

      Why would it be easier than any other email account?

      If that’s really a concern, then before you abandon it, change the password to a long, cryptic string of characters like gds9Jisf(hff;8D. It’ll be almost impossible for anyone to crack it, and you’ll probably even forget it yourself, nearly forcing you to completely abandon the account for good.

      Even if someone does manage to break in, by that point, nothing will be going to that account but spam, so there won’t be any passwords or emails for someone to intercept.

  6. lffrc says:

    It’s a security risk. If you have accounts linked to that address someone can later possibly gain access to it(any number of ways, password reset, brute force, etc…) which revives it and allows account messages to show up. Think of everything you’ve ever signed up for, now give someone access to it all because they hacked your zombie AOL account. Easy to say don’t log in any more but what about the 50 or so sites you signed up for in the past? I’m with Jim.

    • bazzlevi says:

      If you have other accounts linked to that address, then you should go change those other accounts. It’s not a security risk at all. And if you’re really concerned about it, then set the password to something strong so it can’t be guessed.

  7. zibplipperman says:

    Ths s str? w cm n! Thr hs t b mr mprtnt sss t rprt n thn sm dt whnng bt fr L ccnt! Jst gnr th dmn thng, stpd!

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      Oh come on now…this whole “story” is disemvoweling bait.

      I’ve read it three times, and can’t for the life of me figure out why “Jim” is so adamant about canceling something that 1) is free and 2) cannot possibly have any effect on the rest of his life whatsoever.


    Out of curiosity, I just logged into my AOL account, which I hadn’t touched in 5 years. It’s still there.

  9. cwahart says:

    1. Go to, and then sign on using your master screen name and password.
    2. Type the answer to your Account Security Question, and then click Continue.
    3. In the right panel, under I want to, click the Cancel my billing link.

    4. In the right panel, under Frequently Asked Questions, click the How do I cancel my free member account? link.

    Note: If you’ve subscribed for AOL premium services and you cancel your AOL account, your premium services subscription will also be canceled.
    5. You can cancel your free AOL service by doing any one of the following:

    Option 1: Send an electronic cancellation request.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      WOW,,,you’re right. I haven’t used my screen name in AOL since December of 2000. I canceled my account back then because I was moving and the chat rooms began filling up with preteens and replacing us adults. My old screen name works and I guessed at my password and it was correct. Currenlty on my other tab I am shown as “logged in”. Thanks for the FYI!

  10. gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

    in my opinion, email account usernames should NEVER be re-assigned to another person for security purposes – the email provider should, when deactivating accounts, delete the inbox and add the username to a database of “deleted” accounts (this prevents Joey McSketcherson from hijacking an account i formerly used and receiving emails intended for me. on the other hand, i should make sure to make sure everyone knows that i’m changing accounts, but not everyone listens)

    • DangerMouth says:

      mm, yes and no. I’d hang onto any account that was connected to anything important, or contained ‘real’ info used to sign up (like my name), but I’ve created dozens of yahoo accounts over the years. Would kinda suck if all those names could never be used by anyone ever again, just because I needed a throw-away email acct for 20 minutes.

    • scoosdad says:

      I wish there were enough unique phone numbers to do the same with them.

      I am so sick of getting calls for an “Elizabeth Evans” regarding upaid bills of hers. I’ve had my number for over ten years now, and it’s gettting old. Either she has some very large debts going back ten years, or she keeps giving out a very old phone number of hers when she applies for credit.

      I’m about to convert that phone line to a dry loop DSL circuit, so the calls to my house will stop soon. Some other sucker will end up with that number and the calls looking for Elizabeth will go on….. kind of like Charlie on the MTA.

  11. shanelee24 says:

    seriously. this is complaining for the simple reason of complaining. a free service isnt hurting you. it will go away by itself. i dont blame aol for not staffing csrs for free services.

  12. The Marionette says:

    You pretty much have to pester them, that’s what I did when I had to use an aol disc some years back. THey tried saying they would give me an extra free month, but I still told them to cancel. I got a letter saying my service would continue, I called them back and told them about it and it was then canceled.

  13. ehrgeiz says:

    Who freaking cares its a free AOL account, stop using the damn thing and quit whining about it.

  14. Pixel says:

    They don’t want to cancel it for a very simple reason, subscriber numbers.

    If they cancel free accounts no one is using, they have to say they have less people on their service, but if they leave the accounts active (even if no one ever uses them again) they can count those accounts as users.

    There are lots of sites out there that make it very difficult/impossible to delete your account for that same reason. I have more than a few accounts places that have bios or auto-replies that essentially say. “I hate this site and never use it, but they refuse to delete my account, so don’t ever expect a response here.”

    Even better are a few personals sites that not only won’t let you delete your account, but review any edits to your profile. So if you try to put u;p a profile saying you never use the site, they refuse to approve it, so your profile always looks like an active user.

  15. dblevins says:

    Change the password to VERY, VERY, VERY STRONG one (use some of the services to generate one and then check it with other services) and send a couple of emails to everyone in your email directory notifying them of a change of address. Change the email address in all your Yahoo, Google, groups, Amazon, etc. profiles. Then forget about it.

  16. answertips says:

    How do I cancel my free AOL account? Request to cancel or terminate so the free email service will stop the email.

  17. legalguy says:

    When yo get something, anything, for FREE, it is actually unreasonable to expect any kind of service or support. If software comes as a free version and a “pro” version that you pay for, do you really expect to get support for your free version?
    AOL has zero incentive to care about your free account. After all, they barely care about paid accounts!
    Just send them an email filled with profanities – and send it and send it – from your AOL account, of course. They will cancel your account. Particularly if you use the emails of the upper echelon to send to.

  18. kmatsdaddy says:

    I’ve tried the same for years with my free hotmail email account. It will not die. I once didn’t sign into it for a year to see if it would go away, then signed in and there it was with over 800 emails – mostly junk, but some not! I’ve given up.

  19. answertips says:

    ~Can you help Jim?
    I’m able to help Jim have him contact me @AOLSupportHelp or he can send a request to “Cancel the FREE AOL account” to

  20. CTAUGUST says:

    AOL has moved to a platform that gives free accounts and sells ads. The more “account” they have (free or otherwise) the more they can charge for ads. Hense, they do not want ANY free customers cancelling ad they count them when going to advertisers.

  21. johnjamesthree says:

    If he was a good consumer he still has the TOS when he signed up, which will explain how he needs to delete the account. The fact is, THIS IS A FREE ACCOUNT. You do not have the ability to cancel anything that you aren’t paying for.

  22. NarcolepticGirl says:

    OP probably just needs to ignore it until it becomes inactive.

    sometimes i miss being on AOL back in 1994.

    remember prodigy?

  23. joetan says:

    Another hump company that’s looking to be “too big to fail”. LET EM FAIL. LET EM FALL.

  24. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    There doesn’t appear to be a way to cancel a Consumerist commenter account, either. (Not asking, just pointing it out.)

  25. Bog says:

    Easy. Delete everything in the account. Change all the values, name information, any PPI to random or generic stuff. Set the password to some max-limit randomization.

    Set a “Vacation” message that the account is invalid. Make it look like a real bounced email message.

    Then flood your account is full until it can’t hold any more email. Just keep sending emails with large random encrypted attachments. Maybe uuencode and send every public domain MP3 to the account till it bounces from being full. Sign up the address for every spam thing that you can. Post it to every news group you can saying you want lots of lovely spam.

    • supercereal says:

      Easy, sure….if you have no life whatsoever.

      • edrebber says:

        Send some spam to another one of your email accounts from the account you want to close and then complain to the isp of the account you want to close. When the isp of the account you want to close contacts you, tell them to suck eggs.

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      You and I have wildly different definitions of the word “easy.”

  26. dg says:

    Just start sending spam out from it – really nasty porno and viagara spam… Send it to the customer service people at AOL… They’ll turn it off…

    • johnjamesthree says:

      And you could be fined and sent to prison for it. Smart move

      • dg says:

        bullshit. 99.9% of the spammers ARE NOT fined or in prison. Send the spam to the CS group @ AOL – what – 50 people? No DA in his/her right mind would take that case. Do it from a coffee shop with a throw away wireless card, claim you got hacked and tried to get them to turn it off but they refused… For good measure, make it look like it complies with the CAN SPAM act – just like real SPAM… In fact, use the name of a real spammer just for giggles…

  27. lakecountrydave says:

    “You’ve got mail!”

  28. Dyscord says:

    Just stop using it. It’s not like there’s a huge advantage to cancelling. They still have info from when you were a member. it doesn’t just go “poof”.

    In fact, it’ll save you a headache. It was hard enough to cancel when they were billing you for it. Now that they’re not, just forget about it.

  29. H3ion says:

    What’s AOL?

  30. lesbiansayswhat says:

    My AOL accounts are still in existence after a decade of them being canceled. About once a year I test log-in and it’s filled with tons of spam..TONS. Their spam filters were never at all good.

  31. guroth says:

    If they have some sort of auto-reply feature then activate that with a message like “this email account is no longer active and I am no longer able to be reached at this address”, then set the password to some long random string of characters, like “jSDFnFjsgW873653jDge83*&#$gDS7#gD”, and consider it as good as canceled.

  32. pinecone99 says:

    I had the same problem on a free account back in like 1998. The phone rep told me to write a letter to Steve Case, which I did. I never heard anything back but the account went away. Happiness :)

  33. feckingmorons says:

    The newspaper guy gives me a free Sunday paper. I called to make sure they didn’t think I signed up for it, and they said no, sometimes they just give a free one if everybody else on the street gets it.

    I think I’ll sue to stop it.

    • lffrc says:

      I actually find that practice rather annoying and wasteful. I have to waste my time picking up the many local and regional papers left on my driveway just to throw them out. Yes I know how that sounds but it’s akin to littering, mail is one thing a roll a paper being thrown on my property without permission is another.

  34. krylonultraflat says:

    I canceled a paid AOL account years ago via the only known method: canceling the credit card that the account was billed on.

    They never closed my email account and soon after switched to having free e-mail accounts via their website. I’ve continued using my AIM screename and the AOL email account.

    Recently I tried to change my password and was prompted for my credit card information, presumably for verification in lieu of my security question that I don’t even know as it’s like 12 years old by now, but never in a million years would I be dumb enough to pass over any credit information to them again.

  35. Branden says:

    setup the account to automatically forward every email to an AOL EECB.

  36. flugennock says:

    Anybody else here remember four or five years ago, the big furor around some guy who called up AOL to cancel his (paid, iirc) AOL account and the torturous conversation he had with a CSR whose job, apparently, was to convince people not to cancel their accounts by any means necessary?

    The guy recorded the call and posted it everywhere he could on the ‘Net. It eventually made national news and was even rebroadcast on the Today Show. As terrible as the guy’s ordeal was, the recorded conversation was hilarious. SNL couldn’t have written a fictional sketch as funny as what this guy went through in real life.

  37. Rena says:

    I thought this was a well-known fact? AOL won’t even cancel non-free accounts without at least a virgin sacrifice, last I heard.

  38. actuatedpoodle says:

    So basically AOL is as it has always been: like a psycho codependent ex that won’t go away. I wonder what would happen if you changed your account information to say that AOL was the owner, changed the password to something easily guessable, and then gave the email address to spammers to fill up the inbox and as such a chunk of storage on their server. Better yet, give the account info to spammers then see how long it takes AOL to shut it down for TOS violations (only if you can do this legally, of course). ;)

  39. slcab0228 says:

    Someone hacked into my AOL account (which I have not even used in months, and it has been way over the 90 day mark for deletion) and sent out spam to my contacts. I called two different numbers and couldn’t get to a live person. I went through the AOL live chat support and no one was able to really help me either. Not only have a learned my lesson on abandoned accounts, but I have also learned to check here before wasting over an hour of my time with AOL. Thank you so much.

  40. marinesniper says:

    Since I’m too lazy to see if anyone already posted this theory, but since AOL and other online companies that rely heavily on advertising revenue need NUMBER OF USERS to help justify rates charged for ads, if they inactivate all the accounts no one is using, their so-called (active) USERS would be substantially lower, thus destroying their clout and revenue streams. Maybe its more complex than that (obviously), but it makes the most sense to me…