Up until yesterday I had a paid AOL account. Yes, I was the last one.
I had it for 15 years, and I kept it around because every now and then (not often) I'd need access to a dial-up ISP for some reason, and I had a couple of AOL email accounts that I had since the beginning of time (well, internet time) that I used for things like eBay, PayPal, etc.
Since AOL changed the way they manage customers, you can now cancel a paid account and keep the mailboxes for free. Actually, they did that quite a while back but I'm lazy and just now got around to cancelling the account.
The main email address on that account NEVER gets mail... expect for PayPal and eBay notifications, or postings from another non-COW forum I belong to. And I never ever SEND mail from that account... ever. No one in the rest of the world SHOULD know it even exists.
BUT... today I'm greeted with more than 200 pieces of spam in that mailbox, everything from weight loss products to cell phone offers to a new sunroom for my house. Their sources seem to be about a half-dozen different online marketing companies.
I suppose it could be a massive coincidence... but I just kept help thinking that AOL is taking a "Well he won't send us any more money, let's see who all will buy this address" attitude.
If so, that's a pretty sleazy way to do business.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc. fantasticplastic.com
[Todd Terry]"I suppose it could be a massive coincidence... "
Maybe, mostly likely spam bots of some sort.
I've had so much trouble with spam and privacy invasion in the past even though i take the utmost care to prevent this info from slipping in to the wrong hands. My current website has images of email addresses, addresses , phone/fax numbers etc. Not text. So spammers can not data mine any info from it.
Still, it amazes me how smart(and troublesome) spammers(criminals) are.
No, Todd. You're weren't the last AOL account. My 95 year old mother might be. She still has hers because "... you never know when one of my friends will email me..." (About once every six months and usually with the same dumb -- and clean -- joke that's been sent around the internet since DARPA turned it on in the sixties.)
And no, I'm not going to get her onto anything else because her retirement community turns off their WiFi routers at nights and on weekends. And frankly it's difficult enough for her to remember how to get email from AOL so I'm not able to spend as much time on tech support as it would take to get her on the real internet.
As far as AOL selling you to the spammers, I'd bet a healthy amount of money that somewhere in the fine print you agreed to at some point was buried a clause saying that you let them. Yea, it's sleezy, but I'll bet they're scrambling for any source of revenue they can find these days.
As a former AOL employee, I can assure you it wasn't intentional. Phishers use character generators to create lists of names and numbers to put together as potential email addresses, then send out emails en masse. We got a chance to download and decompile a couple. Anything that doesn't bounce back is considered a valid address and they spam your mailbox. This has been happening since I started at AOL in 1995 (I got laid off in 2005). The same is true for any other mail server like yahoo, hotmail, gmail, etc. only some have better spam filters.