Ask LH: Is There An Easy Way To Find And Delete Old Internet Accounts?

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Dear Lifehacker, I've got my tinfoil hat on and am trying to track down and delete any old accounts on services I've signed up to but which are no longer being used. Problem is I can't remember what I've signed up to in the past. Do you know of any service where you can put in your email and it will show what sites/services it's registered to? Thanks, Cancellation Frenzy

Dear CF,

The best place to begin is the email account you used to sign up for all these services. Start by searching for phrases like "confirm email", "new account" and "welcome" to find the relevant emails -- you can then follow the links within these emails to find and delete your accounts. Even if you permanently deleted the original confirmation/welcome emails, there should still be plenty of followup emails littering the darker recesses of your inbox. Finding them via search will obviously be trickier, however.

If you don't relish the prospect of sifting through your entire inbox (or no longer have access to a particular email account) there are online tools available that can help to streamline the process. One of these is KnowEm; a web app designed to track down all the sites on which you've registered a username.

Just type in your usernames, and KnowEm shows you where they’re registered. From there, you can go through and delete your old accounts with ease. You can learn more about this helpful username search site here and here. Of course, this solution is only really helpful if you stick to the one username (or can remember all the different ones you've used over the years).

Another option is the self-explanatory Just Delete Me. This provides a list of the web's most popular web apps and services with links to delete your account from them. Handily, the accounts are also colour coded — green is easy, yellow is medium, red is difficult and black is impossible. When you click on a service, you’re automatically taken to the page where you can delete your account so you don’t have to go searching for it. There's also a Chrome extension available.

Other tools that are worth considering include Account Killer (which provides an alphabetical list of services and works in much the same way as Just Delete Me) and Spokeo (an online profile search engine which lets you remove listings). They all basically do the same thing, so check out which UI you like best and go from there.

As always, if any readers have any advice to dispense themselves, please let CF know in the comments section below.

Cheers Lifehacker

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Comments

    In a similar vein, I went back to check and see how many of the banks I used to have accounts with still had active accounts - I was shocked that many of them still worked, including:

    - Commbank
    - ING
    - Bankwest
    - Easy Street Credit Union
    - St George

    (Yeah, don't ask... I changed banks a LOT). All I had to do was recover a lost password in most cases. Other providers had upgraded their systems entirely so that effectively erased my account, but it was a very revealing exercise.

    Moral of the story: when you quit a bank, change your password to something inscrutable (if you weren't already following a good password regime), or else you could get hacked via something you thought was dead and gone.

    Last edited 09/09/13 4:01 pm

    Too late in this example perhaps, but this is another good reason for using a password manager like lastpass, 1password, etc. Really scary how the list grows over time.

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