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How to estimate the age of an email account: five non-obvious approaches

Learn five different methods on how to discover the age of an email account.

Artem Lalaiants
CEO @RiskSeal
Table of contents

Determining the age of an email account can be challenging since, in most cases, there's no direct method to ascertain its creation date.

However, there are some indirect ways to estimate the age of an email account that I will describe below.

Approach #1. Domain registration date

If it's a custom domain email (like name@company.com), you can check the domain's registration date using WHOIS databases. 

This won't tell you when the email address was created, but it can give you the earliest possible date since the email couldn't have been created before the domain was registered. 

In the image below, you'll find a snapshot of the riskseal.io domain details, highlighting the creation date: September 28, 2022.

Email domain information

Approach #2. Social media or online services

People sometimes use their email addresses to register for various online services, including social media. 

If the email is connected to such accounts, the date of the earliest activity on these platforms might provide a clue.

In the screenshot below, we can see that the Intro section of a Facebook user indicates that the date of their registration in the social network is January 2010. Therefore, we have reason to believe that the e-mail with which they registered on Facebook was created no later than January 2010.

Facebook Intro section

Two important points should be noted:

  1. This is not an absolute indicator. Users might initially register in a social network with one email but later change it. Consequently, the existence of the email is not guaranteed once it is registered in the social network, even though the likelihood of this scenario is relatively high.
  2. Verifying the email associated with a social network account can be challenging. One method involves importing email contacts directly from Facebook into your selected email account provider.

Approach #3. Analysis of breached data

Typically, a data breach is an incident wherein information is stolen or taken from a system without the knowledge or authorization of the system's owner. There are public services that collect information about data breaches and allow customers to see if it has been part of any known data breaches. 

If the email address appears in one of these databases, it was likely active at the time of the breach. This can provide the earliest possible date for the account's creation.

Such information can be found, for example, on the service HaveIBeenPwned.com. 

The RiskSeal platform also provides analytics on this aspect. In the following screenshot, you can observe the details that the platform furnishes regarding data breaches.

Data breaches example

Approach #4. Cross-referencing with other information

If you also have access to other pieces of information about the email account (like previous interactions or social media sign-ups), you can cross-reference these with the breach data to get a more accurate picture of the account's age.

This is an additional check that increases the chances of finding the correct email address creation date. 

However, it's important to note that there is no absolute guarantee of success in this regard either.

Approach #5. Google Dorking

Google Dorking is a method for uncovering information on public servers through search engines. To find the creation date of an email using Google Dorking, you can use various search operators.

It's crucial to remember that the use of Google Dorking should comply with laws and ethical standards and should not compromise the privacy or security of other users.

How RiskSeal can help

Determining the age of an email account can be a complex process. The approaches, such as analyzing public data sources or inferring from data breaches, provide some level of insight but may lack precision.

RiskSeal offers a detailed digital footprint analysis that includes the assessment of various digital signals, including email age and whether it is registered with over 120 social and online platforms, providing a view of an email account's history and authenticity.

Feel free to contact us for additional details on locating digital footprints.

FAQ

How reliable is the domain registration date in estimating the email account's age?

The domain registration date serves as the earliest possible date for the email account creation. However, it doesn't pinpoint the exact email account creation date. Keep in mind that the email could have been created after the domain registration date.

Can social media activity be a definitive indicator of an email account's age?

Social media registration dates can provide clues about the email's creation date. However, changes to email addresses on social media accounts and difficulty in verifying the linked email pose challenges. It's a useful hint, but not foolproof.

How accurate is the information obtained from data breach analysis?

If an email appears in a data breach database, it suggests the email was active during the breach. This gives the earliest possible date for the account's creation.

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