Tech Talk #168–December 4, 2021
Deleting unused accounts
Data breaches are common. Security fails even on major sites like Yahoo, Goldman Sachs, Home Depot, and more.
But what about all the smaller sites like that Vauxhall restoration forum site you signed up for? Or that mailing list for left-handed fishing lures? If the big guys have trouble keeping the doors locked, you know the little guys have trouble too.
So it makes sense to delete accounts with as many of those old, unused services as you can. While many of these accounts may only have your email address, some of them probably have your birthday info, shipping address, and possibly even credit card info on file. You could lose any of that data in a breach.
And, if you re-use passwords, a breach on a site you don’t use anymore may cause criminals to use that re-used password on significant websites that you’re still using. Besides, you sold that Vauxhall a long time ago and also found out you hated fly-fishing.
So, how to delete those old accounts?
The easiest way to start is to use your password manager to look for old accounts. Not using a password manager? Your browser may have a list of sites and their passwords. If you don’t have either of those, look around for those pieces of paper that you keep your passwords on.
Also, you can check your email for the “welcome” messages many sites and services send when you sign up. Search for “verify your account,” “free trial,” and of course, “welcome” to find sites you have an account with.
Now that you’ve got a list of old accounts to delete, you’ve done the hard part. Well, maybe not. Some services and sites don’t have any obvious way to delete your account.
Try searching for the name of the service or the website you want to delete your account from using a search engine and include “delete account” in your search, like “lefthandedflyfishing.com delete account.”
You can also go to JustDelete.me for a long page of services and sites showing how to delete your account and how difficult it is to do so.
If all else fails, go to the site’s support section and look for FAQs on deleting accounts. You can also send in a Contact Me form and request they delete your account.
Some sites/services don’t let you delete your account. If (when?) that’s the case, log in to your account, remove any saved payment info and change all of your personal information like your birthday, hometown, favorite British car restoration magazine, and everything else to something random.
If you can’t delete your account and don’t want to hear from them again, you can also change your email address. Use a temporary email service like 10MinuteMail to generate a temporary email address to receive the verification email from the site/service you’re working on.
The site/service has a temporary email address for you, and none of your personal information is correct. That’s almost as good as deleting your account.
It’s hard deleting old accounts. So hard that we might think twice about signing up for the next site/service, right?
Securing Chrome Sync
The Sync feature for Google Chrome stores your bookmarks, passwords, and browsing history and lets you use that information across different devices. It’s pretty handy when you get a new computer.
But maybe you don’t want Google to have access to all that data. So here’s how to encrypt your data so Google can’t get their grubby little hands on it.
Open Chrome and click on the three dots in the upper-right corner and choose Settings. Now click on Sync and Google Services (you need to have sync turned on.) Next, expand the Encryption Options and click the button with the long name ending in passphrase. Enter a new passphrase and confirm it. Now, whenever you allow Chrome to sync on a device for the first time, you’ll need to enter the passphrase. Not every time, just the first time.
I’ll walk it off
Boyfriend: Get my phone and call 911. I think I’m having a heart attack!
Girlfriend: Okay, I’ve got it. Your phone’s locked. What’s the code?
Boyfriend: Right. You know, never mind. I think I’m going to be fine.
Do you have a computer or technology question? Greg Cunningham has been providing Tehachapi with on-site PC and network services since 2007. Email Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org.