Just about everything we do nowadays on the Internet requires us to sign up for a service, an account or use personal information to gain access to content. If you do not have to sign up for an account or service, you do not generally get the same benefit as those who have been through the process. As we surf various sites around the web, we often create accounts and sign up for service to get the information we want. Then, we walk away from the site and as time fades, forget about ever signing up in the first place.
Our guide will show you how to delete an account you no longer use so you do not have to worry about who has your information and what they might do with it long after you stop visiting them online.
How to find old Internet accounts
Old Internet accounts can be tricky to find because who keeps track of everything they have ever done online, to begin with? You may have to do some detective work to track down accounts floating around containing personal information.
The first trick to tracking down old Internet accounts is to login to your e-mail accounts. This includes your current e-mail, as well as older accounts you may not use as frequently.
Do not just check your current e-mails, but go through a few months to see what pops up. It may surprise you. Everything from newsletters, misdirected e-mails, and sites you have visited may show up for you to be able to access.
Next, check your spam folders. In this example, we checked an older e-mail account. We found a newsletter that we never remembered signing up for from IKEA that we were able to unsubscribe from. You never know what you will find by doing some digging into your own e-mail and older e-mail accounts.
The second trick to tracking down old Internet accounts is to check your browser history, especially if you have ever saved passwords. This includes checking every browser you use.
Sometimes you may have old accounts you do not use, but because you saved the password, you easily find the web site or service they belong to.
The third trick is to do a good old-fashioned Google search. Use an old username, e-mail address or pseudonym you may have used at one time.
You may be surprised by what you find in the way of accounts, especially public ones that you did not even realize had gone public. In this case, we were surprised by one of our very old Webshots account that still was displaying public pictures.
These are just some of the ways to track down old Internet accounts you may not use anymore.
How to close old Internet accounts
Depending on what accounts you find, every web site and service have a way to close a particular account.
Before you delete an account, you should login and check for the Help area of the web site. You can often search or find directions to deleting an account from there. Some sites and services require you to submit a ticket or e-mail to request closure. While wandering around these sites, you also want to make note if the account deletion is immediately or if there is a waiting period. This way you can follow-up when that time expires to ensure your account information has truly been purged from a web site or service’s database.
Our example will show you how to delete a Google account just to give you an idea how the process works.
If you login to your Google account through any service, you can click on your Name in the upper right-hand corner. Then, click “Accounts.”
From there, click “Products.”
Now, click “Edit.”
Depending on what service you logged into, you will be given two options by Google: Delete the product or delete your entire account.
Since this is one of our much older Google Accounts, we will choose to delete it entirely.
Click “Close account and delete all services and info associated with it.”
Most web sites and services, like Google, will give you a breakdown of exactly what you are trying to do so you understand there is no going back.
Simply follow the instructions provided, then click “Delete Google Account.”
Google will then confirm you want to delete an account.
Every web site, blog or service will be different when you follow steps to delete an account, but the process is generally the same in that you will be reminded what you are doing and you will have to take extraordinary steps to delete an account.
Why should you close old Internet accounts you no longer use?
Having old Internet accounts floating around can be hazardous to your online privacy. Unfortunately, most Internet users utilize the same username and password no matter what site or service they use. This means that if one site is hacked, the hacker now has the information to login to your e-mail, bank account, credit card account and other web sites you use online. They can then take your information and use it against you.