The only problem is that most of us can’t recall all of the accounts we don’t use anymore. We all have more unused accounts than we realize, whether it’s the random web store we shopped at three years ago, the lapsed streaming services we only used for the free trial, or the burner social media profiles we created. Fortunately, there are several resources available to assist you in locating, recovering, and deleting your unused, forgotten, or otherwise difficult-to-delete accounts.
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Step 1. Find your unused accounts
If you can’t recall all of your accounts, the first step is to locate and restore them. There are a few places you should look for saved login information, and you should do so thoroughly because it’s highly unlikely that you’ll find all of your account names in one place.
The first place to look for information is in your browser. Most modern browsers allow you to save login information for any websites you visit, and you can quickly locate any saved accounts from the settings menu. In Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Safari, look for the following:
- Chrome: Go to Settings > Passwords.
- Edge: Go to Settings > Profiles > Passwords > Saved Passwords.
- Firefox: Go to Preferences > Privacy & Security > Saved Logins.
- Safari: Go to Preferences > Passwords.
If you use a password manager, make sure to check it for any saved login information.
You can sign in to many websites and apps using your Apple ID, Facebook, Google, Instagram, or Twitter accounts. Each third-party service linked to these accounts is treated as a separate account, so it’s a good idea to look through the lists to see who has access.
- Apple ID: On your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings > Password & Security > Apps Using Your Apple ID.
- Facebook: Go to Settings > Apps and Websites.
- Google: Go to myaccount.google.com then click “Security.” Check under “Third-party apps with account access” and “Signing in to other sites.”
- Instagram: Go to Settings > Security > Apps & Websites
- Twitter: Go to Settings and privacy > Account > Apps and Sessions > Connected Apps.
Haveibeenpwned can also help you find accounts with similar usernames or email addresses. Checkusernames.com, knowem.com, namecheck.com, and usersearch.org are also useful for looking up old usernames. Searching Google for your usernames, as well as searching your email inboxes for terms like “account,” “password,” and “username,” may turn up a few forgotten logins.
Finally, look through your physical notebooks and documents on your phone, PC, or cloud drives for any login credentials you may have written down.
Step 2. Recover your passwords
The next step is to recover your accounts for the apps and websites for which you have accounts. If you store your passwords in your browser or password manager, or if you memorize them, this is simple, but if you don’t, you’ll need to recover your password.
Almost every login page will allow you to recover your username, password, and/or email address so that you can log in again. Unfortunately, this only works if you still have access to the email address (or, in some cases, phone number) that you used to register. If that isn’t an option, your only other option is to try to contact the company directly.
Step 3. Delete the old accounts
In an ideal world, every abandoned account would simply delete itself after a long period of inactivity, but most do not, either because users ignore the account for so long that they forget it exists, or because the company makes it too difficult to easily close the account and delete your data. However, regardless of how perplexing it may be to delete an account, most larger companies are required to adhere to international data privacy laws that give users the right to delete their data and close their accounts. The key is to know where to look.
There are, however, a few general guidelines that will assist you in determining how to delete your accounts:
Account deletion options are usually found in the settings menu, usually under the “Account,” “Profile,” or “Privacy” menus. Log in to your account, then go through each menu.
Have you had no luck yet? You can reach out to the company via email, phone, or their official social media accounts. Most of the time, you’ll be able to find the steps for deleting your account before this happens, but it’s still something to consider.