Determining email age

This article explains how you can detect an old email address and how to stop fresh sign-ups if age is not detected.

How do I detect the age of an email address?

The simple answer is you can’t, there's no way to programmatically determine the age of any email addresses on Gmail, Hotmail, or any other free mail providers and those providers, do not share that piece of information.

For a business domain; you could use a WHOIS service to tell you how old a domain is. However, this does not tell you, when the mailbox was created on that domain. 

Another company has told me they can tell how old an email address is. 

There are a few companies out there, who advertise this as their USP (unique selling point). Unfortunately, the data they provide, we believe, is not an accurate age of the email address being validated. Let us explain below:

Method 1: The database. 

You store all the data your customers put through your system. (Email Hippo does not store your data.) I validate the email address  the service then scans the database, to see if the email address has ever been put through the system before and the date it was first processed. 

If the answer to the query is yes, they might return an answer like this  is 3+ years old.

If the answer is no, they may return the query as this email address is new or may have been created recently. 

Method 2: Social Media Scanning. 

The other method companies use is social media scanning, they will check to see if the email address is registered to a social media account; Eg: Facebook or Twitter. To see when that account was created. 

This method is inaccurate, as it only tells you when the social media account, was created. I know of Facebook account's, which are 10 years old. However, the email address used to register the account is 15+ years old, as it was created long before Facebook.

But how can I stop fresh sign-ups if you can't find an age? 

There are many companies offering fraud solutions, such as ThreatMetrix . A service like ThreatMetrix claims to recognize up to 95% of customers from prior interactions since they are installed on many high-traffic websites:

Quote from Threat Metrix

“ThreatMetrix’s integrated solution leverages global shared intelligence across millions of daily consumer interactions including logins, payments and new account originations. Using this shared information, ThreatMetrix creates an anonymized identity of each consumer by bringing together all aspects of a person’s online devices and behaviour into one unique digital identity.”

They are freely admitting they use a database to be able to estimate the age of an email address.