Over a third (31 percent) of people change their email address at least once a year, causing many to lose touch with both personal and professional contacts, according to a study released today by Return Path, which provides change of address services to email users.

So-called 'email address turnover' is driven by one of three variables: change of job, switching to a new ISP, or an attempt to avoid junk mail.

"The advent of broadband has seen thousands of existing internet users switch ISPs in order to take advantage of new services and content," said a spokesman at ISP Freeserve. "This trend will continue as people move over to high-speed services."

But over half (53 percent) of adults admitted they were rather slack at forwarding new details on and had lost touch with many contacts due to an address change.

"The volume and frequency of email address changes suggests that consumers have simply come to accept the hassles that accompany such action," said Earl Quenzel, vice president of sales and marketing at Global Name Registry

"[We] are responding with solutions that offer customers the flexibility to change an email address while minimising lost relationships," he added. The Registry offers a lifetime email address that redirects incoming mail to the user's current email account.

Many people registered their email addresses with an average of 12 sites but only notified around half of them that their address had changed, with 22 percent admitting they did not bother telling any websites at all.