Do you use a Verizon email account? Pretty soon, that could be an AOL account.
Verizon has, since last week, been notifying customers that it is giving up control of 4.5 million customer email accounts and will be migrating those accounts to AOL — a move that may give some flashbacks to the 1990s. (Those free CDs, we presume, are not coming back.)
Customers have 30 days to choose one of three options before they lose access to their accounts: head over to AOL, transfer their email to another provider, or leave their accounts alone to be deleted.
Verizon users who choose the AOL option will be able to keep their existing addresses, which will carry the “verizon.net” ending. They will, however, have to let Verizon know that they want to hang on to their addresses and log in through AOL’s system from now on, the email said.
Why the change? According to an information page on Verizon’s website, the firm said it realized there are “more capable email platforms out there” — including AOL Mail, which has been owned by Verizon since 2015.
Migrating from Verizon to AOL will be easy. Users interested in keeping their email addresses don’t have to do much. Verizon will migrate the contacts, calendars, email and other information to AOL for them.
For those who aren’t that interested in moving to AOL, things get more complicated.
According to Verizon’s guide page, users interested in migrating their accounts elsewhere should follow the instructions for importing mail and other information provided by whatever email provider they choose.
Users can find instructions on how to transfer their old email and contacts into other accounts from the online help forums for services such as Google’s Gmail or Microsoft’s Outlook.
After that, they can leave their Verizon accounts alone; the company will erase data from those accounts after six months of inactivity, said Verizon spokesman Raymond McConville. The company estimates that 2.3 million of its 4.5 million email accounts are active — meaning they have been used in the past 30 days.
AOL reported a major breach of its email in 2014, which affected 2 percent of its customers, an estimated 500,000 users. AOL did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how it has improved its security since the breach. But the company learned from its mistakes, said John Levine, an email infrastructure consultant and author of “The Internet for Dummies.”
AOL’s mail program may not have a modern aesthetic, he said, but consumers can consider its capabilities and security on par with major competitors such as Outlook and Gmail. “If I were a Verizon user, going to AOL might be a pain,” he said. “But functionally, it will be fine.”
However, Levine said, if you’re thinking about ditching Verizon in the future, choosing an email that isn’t tied to your internet service provider will give you more flexibility to shop around.
“If you decide you hate Verizon and want to switch — say you decide you hate Comcast less — you’ll have to also switch your email account,” he said.