Web accounts

Consumer Watch: How to Delete Old Email and Web Accounts

I would like to delete all old accounts, but I don’t really know how to do it. No suggestions? –Catherine Attention

Dear Ms Attention: First off, I’m assuming you mean accounts like email and such. If so, my dear “friend” Consumer Reports has a wealth of information advising readers and savvy consumers on how to proceed.

Let’s start with your email. Check all email accounts for phrases such as “welcome to”, “new account”, “password”, and “confirm your email address”. These are messages received when we sign up for new services. Just make sure you don’t purge all of them in case you need to reset an account password to continue receiving information.

Search engines are just as easy to remove. For example, search your favorite search engines by typing your name into Bing, DuckDuckGo, and Google. To be on the safe side, also search for your name and any old email addresses. (DuckDuckGo is the best search on the web, according to Consumer Reports, because it doesn’t create a user profile to show ads related to that query.)

Saved connections. For those of you who have enabled your browser to save usernames and passwords (a big no-no!), go to the archived list to find those old accounts. If a Chrome user, click on the three dots in the upper right corner, then go to Settings and scroll down to password, then click.

Google and Facebook logins take a little longer but are still fairly straightforward. Any application, website, or game that you have logged into using either is listed on these sites. When on Facebook, click the triangle on any page; then go to Settings and scroll down to Apps & Websites. If you are on a Google page, click on the grid icon at the top right and go to Account; scroll to Security, then to Sign in with Google.

Finally, specialized research tools can show whether any of your email addresses or passwords have been exposed in connection with a data breach or a service on which you have an account. To determine this violation, go to the Have I Been Pwned website. To further this objective, any reader should check whether their potential username is a trademark infringement. Check KnowEm or Namecheck.com.

It goes without saying that many of us often forget to delete accounts that we no longer use. With identity theft being the number one concern of consumers, it is imperative that we understand what is happening around us on the World Wide Web. After all, companies are still trying to collect our personal information every day, and worse, when one of them suffers a date breach, invaders can use our login data to try to log into other accounts. – and sometimes succeed.

Contact Ellen Phillips at consumerwatch@timesfreepress.com.