Have you ever wondered what happens to your internet site logon account information after an account is no longer used? There are millions of websites and they all want you to register (create an account on their website). We have websites for pharmacies, grocery stores, banking, travel sites, utility and other monthly service sites, hotels, colleges, professional groups, office supplies, coupon sites, etc. Over the years, you may be surprised how many accounts you have created. Likely, the number will be in the dozens and some will even exceed the 100+ mark. Note: This is not a competition. The one with the most web accounts does not win.
These accounts are all places from which hackers can gain information about you. The more accounts, the more places of exposure.
The other day I went through the list of accounts I have created and started to close out accounts I no longer want. To my surprise, companies make it very easy to create an account but most companies have no method to delete your account. Many will let you close your account but that does not remove your personal information. Others will let you log on, scramble all your personal information and create a scrambled password, by typing in gibberish, but you still cannot delete, and in some cases cannot even close, the account.
I wanted to remove my personal information from one credit card account that I no longer have. The credit card company’s computer allowed me to login but I could not change my password or personal information because the card was closed. I contacted the company and asked them to delete my password, challenge questions and all other personal information from their servers. The answer I received was that that is impossible because the credit card no long is active. I realize that if they are hacked, my personal information may become compromised, yet I have no control over it.
So what is the lesson? 1) Keep track of what on-line accounts you create. 2) When you no longer have use of the account check to see if there is a way to delete the account and all of your personal information. 3) If you cannot delete your account, update all your personal information with bogus information and then ask for the account to be closed. 4) Make sure you scramble your personal information before you get locked out of your account.