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How to delete a forgotten online account: Useful life hacks and online services

Photo: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

Photo: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

Old accounts should be deleted in order not to become a victim of scammers

A forgotten online account can lead to hacking and data theft. You can protect yourself from this if you periodically put things in order in your online environment, namely, delete forgotten accounts, especially if you have stopped using them.


Why you should delete forgotten accounts

A forgotten online service that uses a valid phone number or the same password as other working online services can be a ticking time bomb. It was after the hacking of the old email address that Liudmila from Kyiv became a victim of scammers who got a loan in her name. In addition, forgotten online services can store important data used by other services, documents or other information. Therefore, accounts that you do not use should be deleted.


How to find old accounts

There are several ways to find old forgotten accounts.

  • browser password manager

If you save passwords in a browser or another program (password manager), then you can find old accounts in these lists that you may not already remember about.

  • search by email

It is enough to find the letter of registration on the website. To do this, you can search the mail for the phrases "welcome", "verify", "your account", sometimes—"login and password".

  • search for accounts connected to Google (Gmail), Facebook, Instagram, etc.

When registering, it is possible not to set a username and password, but to connect a new account to an existing one on another popular service. To do this, mail (Gmail) or social networks (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) are most often used.


How to find accounts bound to Gmail

In the settings of your Gmail account (or Google account), you need to go to the "Data and privacy" section, and then, by scrolling down the page, use the section "Third-party apps with account access" (you can get into it using this link).

This page lists applications from third-party developers with account access.


The second block is the section "Signing in with Google", here you will see the accounts that you log into using your Google account.


By clicking on the name of the application, you will see what permissions it has, that is, what data it has access to. You can also revoke this access here.


How to find accounts that have logged in via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

Similarly, you can find the accounts that you logged into via the social network Facebook. To do this, select the block "Apps and websites" in the settings section.


In this section, you can view application permissions or deny access.


The same principle can be used to find accounts that have used data from other social networks. For Instagram in the "settings" section there is a subsection "Apps and websites". For Twitter, "Apps and sessions".


How to find forgotten accounts which passwords have been hacked

Use the service Have I Beened?—with its help you can see what passwords bound to your email got into the hacked databases, as well as the accounts linked to these email addresses and passwords. It may be worth deleting some of them.


How to delete an account in Gmail (Google)

In the settings section in the subsection "Data and privacy", at the very bottom there is a block "Data from apps and services that you use".


It is recommended that you upload your data first and then delete your account.

It should be understood that when you delete data from your Google account, not only emails will be lost, but also all content bound to it—files, calendars, and photos.

In addition, you will not be able to use Google services that require an account (for example, Gmail, Drive, or Google Play), and you will also lose access to subscriptions and content purchased through that account on YouTube and Google Play (for example, applications, games, music, and series).


How to delete your Facebook account

In the settings section in the subsection "Your Facebook information" you can deactivate or delete your account. The first option means that your account will be temporarily frozen while you continue to use Messenger, the second option cannot be canceled.


Deleting accounts: websites-sets of instructions

There are many services that provide instructions on how to delete your account. Such services offer a deleting complexity estimation (easy, difficult, and medium), sometimes—the number of steps required to solve this task. Some of them contain instructions supplemented with links to pages of the corresponding services intended for deleting data.

Here are some of these services:


Paid third-party data deletion services

There are services that take on the task of deleting data. Most often these are paid projects, some of them do not even offer a free trial period. Here are some of these services are:

However, the use of third-party services bears a certain risk—after all, before deleting data, this service must access your data. And, working with it, you give permission to operate with your information and fully trust that the service will not make a backup copy for itself.

In the process of testing a number of services, we managed to find out that Google limited access of some of them to their accounts and data due to inaccurate handling of them.

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Deleting accounts: General tips

You can find information about deleting an account by trying to find the support section or reviewing the user data confidentiality rules. This should be done if it is not possible to explicitly find the delete data option.

For example, after the rise in popularity of the service Clubhouse, it was found that you can delete your account here only after a request sent to the official email of the project, and at the same time the company reported that it needs 30 days to consider applications.

At the same time, in some cases, projects themselves delete unused accounts, so it is possible that, trying to log into a forgotten account, you will see that it is no longer active.

Before deleting accounts, you should read the service’s rules for dealing with user data. Because often the service may not completely delete data or do it immediately. The storage of user data for some time after deletion may be required by the law of the country in the jurisdiction of which the service operates. Such requirements often exist in order the criminals cannot completely destroy the traces of their activities.


What to do if deletion is impossible

In some cases, online services do not allow you to delete a user account. In this case, you should delete all user information from it.

After logging into such a site, delete all data about yourself—date of birth, city of residence, name, as well as the bound bank card, your own content (notes, photos, lists, and tasks). If you need this information, download it to your device before deleting it.

Try to change the email address of this account from your usual and current email to another one—either a special email used for such registrations, or a disposable email created using a special service.

Such services allow you to create a temporary address that exists literally for 10 minutes (or several days—depending on the rules of the service). This will be enough to confirm the change of an email address for the old service, but it will allow you to distance yourself from the old online account.


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