Consumer Reports: Organizing your online accounts

Consumer Reports

(CONSUMER REPORTS) — It’s frustrating when you try to close an account online, can’t figure out how, and just forget about it. Keeping all that unused personal data lying around the internet could put your digital privacy and security at risk.

Consumer Reports reveals some tips to help you say goodbye to unwanted accounts once and for all.

When Jett Valera decided to start using a password manager for all of his online accounts-he made a startling discovery.

“I suddenly realized I actually had over 200 accounts. Online accounts,” he said.

Everything from social media to online shopping. So Jett started getting rid of the ones he didn’t use anymore. — But that was easier said than done for several. One even took more than a year.

“I couldn’t find any instructions or any guidance that would help me, that would navigate me to where I can close it.”

Consumer Reports’ Thomas Germain says it happens all the time.

“Deleting accounts you don’t use can be complicated and time consuming-but it’s an important way to protect yourself online,” he said.

That’s because in some cases your info could be sold or potentially exposed in a data breach. So how can you delete that data for good?

“Start by checking the settings or account menu. If it’s not there, go to the help menu or even the frequently asked questions to look for instructions,” said Germain

If that doesn’t help, try the company’s privacy policy. You can search for words like “account” or “delete.” You can also google how to delete an account from the company to see if anyone’s posted instructions online.

“If you still haven’t found it, try contacting customer service. And in my experience, it’s often faster to go through text chats instead of a phone call whenever possible,” he said.

And if you live in California, like Jett — you can take advantage of the state’s privacy law, which requires most businesses to let state residents delete data collected from them.

Companies don’t have to honor the request if you’re not a California resident, but
some do anyway.

To help you find accounts you’ve simply forgotten about, CR suggests these tips: search for your email address and old usernames, check for saved logins in your web browser or password manager and search your email inbox for welcome messages.

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