Why You Need To Delete Your Old Accounts

lightning techtips logo-newMost people let old accounts languish. But abandoned accounts are filled with information that can be used to send spam, spread malvertising, and commit cybercrimes.

For example, I frequently get email messages from people I know, but haven’t talked to in a while. Invariably the email subject is blank or says nothing but, “Re:”. Sometimes the email includes a suspicious attachment. And I sigh and delete the message, because I know these unused accounts have been hijacked from their unsuspecting owners and are now controlled by hackers.

But hijacked accounts go beyond mere annoyance. They are often used to hack other, juicier targets, making it more difficult for such electronic attacks to be traced back to the perpetrator. They can also be used in online financial scams, such as the “I’m stuck overseas and need you to wire me money” scam. Such scams appear far more realistic when they come from a seemingly-legitimate source like a friend’s email address rather than some random account, and many people fall for the trick.

Hijacked accounts can also be used to hijack other accounts like Facebook, Twitter, or even your bank account, if it’s been linked to them. It’s like a stepping stone to the rest of your stuff.

For these reasons, you should always delete old accounts if you are no longer using them. If you’re concerned that someone will take your old username, I recommend maintaining your old accounts by logging into them every few months and using strong passwords that have not been used on any other site.

You will need your username and password for the account you wish to delete. If you don’t have it, you typically need to follow the site’s procedures to recover a forgotten password before you can continue the deletion or deactivation process. Don’t forget to remove the deleted address from other accounts if it’s been linked to them, such as an old email address linked to your Facebook account.

You should note, however, that just because a site claims your account has been deleted, it may not necessarily have been. Many sites retain old accounts in case you want to reactivate them later. Also, your data may not be deleted even if you request it. Over the years any information you’ve stored online has doubtless been copied to untold backups and mirror servers. In reality, once your data is on the Internet, it’s out there forever. But at least by deactivating or deleting your accounts, you can help keep them (and the data they contain) from being used for nefarious purposes.

Here’s how to delete or deactivate your accounts on a variety of popular sites, old and new.

2 thoughts on “Why You Need To Delete Your Old Accounts

  1. Read ur article in NW Herald today on wireless networks which is very helpful – but I have a question. How do contact u to ask u a question about this article?

    Question is — What is the difference between a wireless extender and a booster? Thx!


    1. Hi Leslie,

      Generally speaking, wireless extenders, boosters, and repeaters all refer to similar things: devices that improve the range and quality of your wireless network. There are some technical differences — for example, a booster literally boosts a network’s performance while a repeater simply repeats the signal. However, manufacturers sometimes use these terms interchangeably.

      Extenders or repeaters are often used when you simply need to increase range, such as in a large building. Boosters can help when you need to improve signal strength, as in the case of interference. Because products vary so widely, I recommend you research a device’s specific features to see what it offers. You can often find comparison charts and other information on manufacturer websites.

      Thank you for your question! For those who would like to read my article about wireless networks in The Northwest Herald, you will find it here:



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