If you’ve been on the internet for a while, you’ve probably created some accounts that you then abandoned. Whether they were email addresses, social media profiles on defunct websites, or abandoned accounts on popular online shopping sites, it’s a good idea to track them down and delete them. Why?
If for nothing else, deleting old accounts simply makes you a tidy, conscientious web user. Second, and most important, it’s just a good thing to know where all your information is online. Doing so helps to minimize surprises (unexpected leaked information) in case of data breaches.
Here are a few ways that you can find and delete old online accounts:
1. Use an Online Service to Check Usernames
You can use a few different services to check usernames that you use regularly. Many people use just one or two usernames, to keep their personal brand in and because it’s just easier to remember one or two names. You might have one you use for profiles that potential employers and business colleagues might see, and then one you use for more anonymous, personal profiles.
No matter how many usernames you use, it’s possible that you’ve used them for profiles that you subsequently abandoned. These online services allow you to see if someone’s taken a username on a certain platform. Although companies often use these services to develop an online brand, you can use it as well to try and see where you created usernames in the past.
2. Look Around for Your Name and Location
Just by searching for your name, you may be able to get an idea of where you created online profiles. Many people have profiles that don’t use their first and last name (perhaps using a handle or nickname), but you can at least get a start by searching for your name. Add quotation marks around your full name to narrow down your results faster, and filter out anyone who only shares your first or last name.
If you have a common name, make your search even more specific. Use information such as your current or past location, your job title, the place you work or used to work, and other information that’s unlikely to cross over with people who happen to share your name. This is especially useful if you’re trying to find things like Facebook profiles, the content of which may be important to your future academic and job endeavors.
3. Go Through Your Spam and Unread Emails
It’s likely that you’ve signed up for a variety of email newsletters throughout your internet life, many of which may now sit unread in your email inbox. Although there’s not necessarily anything wrong with having unread emails, it’s still a good idea to go through and sift out email newsletters that you’re not going to read again. By removing yourself from these newsletters, you de-clutter your inbox and improve your online security.
This is also a good way to discover online profiles that you may have missed with the previous steps. Some people also sign up for occasional emails when they sign up for a profile with a social media site. Check to make sure none of these newsletters are attached to a profile you’ve created.
4. Check Yourself With an Online People Search
One of the best ways to get information about yourself that you may have forgotten is to use an online people search. This way, as long as it’s available, you can see relevant online information, possibly including old email addresses. Use those email addresses to go through the previous steps again.
With an online people search site like PeopleFinders, you can perform a people search on yourself, and try to get access to information you may not have considered. Whether that’s email addresses you forgot about or potential data breaches online, it’s information that can be very important when you’re trying to clean up your digital footprint.
As you continue your life online, you’re probably going to make more social media profiles. That’s not something you should stop doing, as it’s an important part of communicating with other people. What you should do is be careful about where you create profiles and what information you share.
Keeping an eye on your digital footprint is the best way to do that. Every so often, remember to use PeopleFinders to try and make sure your information is still safe.
Image attribution: Alliance – stock.adobe.com