Gmail is one of the most popular email services on the web. I use it every day, and virtually everyone I know uses it as well.
If you have a Gmail account of your own, have you ever considered what will happen to it when you pass away?
Well, you should, because it really is a big deal.
After you pass away your Gmail account will go dormant, leaving it wide open for hackers to worm their way in and take over your account. I know, you’re probably thinking “I’ll be dead, so it won’t matter”, but trust me, it will matter.
If you think about it, every message you have ever received along with the personal info of the folks in your address book essentially puts your contacts (i.e. family members, friends and business associates) at risk of ending up on SPAM email lists.
Even worse, your contacts could become prime targets for fraudsters and blackmailers. If you have ever exchanged sensitive information with one or more of your contacts via Gmail, a hacker will be able to read those messages and retrieve info that could be potentially embarrassing for your contacts – and even put them at financial risk.
It all boils down to this: Should your dormant Gmail account be taken over by a hacker, the people you love and did business with could be placed in jeopardy.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Luckily, Google has created a handy tool called the Inactive Account Manager that makes it easy to tell the folks at Google how you wish for them to handle your Gmail account after you have passed on.
Using Google’s Inactive Account Manger is easy. Simply visit this page on the Google website and click the Start button to tell Google how you would like for them to handle your account when the time comes.
At the very least you should instruct Google to delete your account after it has been inactive for the amount of time designated in the “Timeout Period” setting. That will take the account offline and make it unavailable to anyone who might wish to use it to create mischief and steal from (or otherwise harm) your contacts.
Note: Although I spoke about using the Inactive Account Manager in connection with your Gmail account, its settings will actually affect your entire Google account. I recommend that you keep that fact in mind while you are deciding how you wish to use the tool.
Bonus tip #1: This post explains how to protect your Gmail account (actually, your entire Google account) from hackers by enabling Two-Factor Authentication on it.
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