No good comes from leaving details of your identity—alternate email addresses, date of birth and, yes, passwords—floating around the backwaters of the internet. Hackers who find their way into one account, dormant or still in use, can exploit details such as PINs or security-question answers to get into other accounts. That’s right, your old AOL Instant Messenger account could compromise your Facebook account.
It’s best to reduce your overall exposure. Think of it as a pruning exercise.
Before you start shuttering accounts, consider a few things. You might lose access to services you never knew were related. Your Yahoo account, for example, gets you into the popular photo site Flickr. Your Hotmail email address could be your login for Xbox Live, Office 365 or Skype.
Respect the finality of your decision—when you’re out, you’re out. That’s why some services like Facebook and Instagram instead let you deactivate your account—putting it in a state of hibernation until that day you realize you need more social networks in your life. Others, such as Microsoft, apply a waiting period in case you change your mind.
In some cases, you can trim a particular service rather than a whole account. Google, for example, lets you delete just your Google+ profile (Have you forgotten already? You probably have a Google+ profile!)
Concerns aside, it just feels good to off your most forgotten services. And you should consider shutting newer services you’ve left and will soon forget. Here are links to cancellation pages from the most popular (or formerly popular) online services. And scroll past the links for even more tips and things to think about when canceling services.
Canceling isn’t always easy. Here are some extra tips.
Brace for a detour: Internet services don’t always close accounts via the web. For some, you’ll have to reach out to customer service. Be prepared to prove you are who you say you are.
Brace for a detour, part 2: Likewise, some services won’t let you cancel an account through an app; you will have to visit the website.
Pack up first: Facebook and other services let you download content before deleting your account. It’s a smart step, especially if you are prone to regret.
Don’t look back: Once you kill an account, stay away. Logging back into a closed account before it is fully terminated may revive that account.
Waiting game: If a service required a subscription fee, your cancelled account may remain active until your subscription itself runs out.
Please call again: If you owe money for services, or are under a disciplinary review or penalty, you may not be able to close your account.
Source: Wall Street Journal