We all have accounts we no longer use, but some apps and websites make deleting your profile a pain. In those cases, simply ignoring them is an easier option. However, unused accounts are a major security threat—all it takes is one successful data break or credential-stuffing attack to potentially compromise your personal data, financial information, or private files.
The only problem is, most of us can’t remember all the accounts we no longer use. Whether it’s the random web store you shopped at once three years ago, the lapsed streaming services you only used for the free trial, or the burner social media profiles you made, each of us has more unused accounts than we realize. Luckily, there are several resources to help you find, recover, and delete your unused, forgotten, or just hard-to-delete accounts.
Step 1. Find your unused accounts
If you can’t remember all the accounts you own, the first step is to find and recover them. There are a few places you should check for saved login info, and you should take the time to check each since it’s highly unlikely all your account names from over the years are stored in a single spot.
The first place to search is in your web browser. Most modern browsers can save login info for any websites you access, and you can quickly find any accounts you’ve saved from the settings menu. Here’s where to look in Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Safari:
- 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.
Password managers also store your login information, so make sure to check there for any saved login info if you use one.
Many websites and apps let you sign in with your Apple ID, Facebook, Google, Instagram, or Twitter accounts. Each third-party service connected to these accounts count as its own separate account, so it’s smart to comb through the lists and see what 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.
You should also search for accounts using the same usernames or email addresses with Haveibeenpwned. Also good are checkusernames.com, knowem.com, namecheck.com, and usersearch.org for looking up your old usernames. Searching for your usernames on Google could also work, and searching your email inboxit is with terms like “account,” “password,” and “username” may dredge up a few forgotten logins as well.
Finally, check physical notebooks and documents saved on your phone, PC, or cloud drives for any login credentials you jotted down.
Step 2. Recover your passwords
Once you know which apps and websites you have accounts for, the next step is to recover them. This is easy if you store your passwords in your browser or password manager, or if you have them memorized, but if not, you’ll need to recover your password.
Pretty much every login page will have the option to recover your username, password, and/or email address so you can log back in. Unfortunately, this only works if you still have access to the email (or in some cases, phone number) you used to sign up with. If that’s not an option, your only course of action is to try and reach out to the company directly.
Step 3. Delete the old accounts
In an ideal world, every abandoned account would simply auto-delete after a long period of unuse, but most just sit there vulnerably until the user finally closes it—but most don’t, either because users ignore the account for so long they forget it exists, or the company makes it too difficult to easily close the account and delete your data. Thing is, no matter how confusing it is to delete an account, most larger companies must comply with international data privacy laws that give users the right to delete their data and close their accounts. The trick is knowing where to look.
We’ve previously covered how to delete your accounts and all personal data from 15 of the most popular social media services. We also have a guide to doing the same on Clubhouse.
Consumer reports also have guides on deleting various accounts, including several stubbornly persistent services like SiriusXM, Walgreens, and Groupon. If those guides don’t have it, Reddit is also a great source.
Those guides won’t cover everything, though, and it would be nearly impossible to list out the exact steps for every app or website out there. However, there are a few general tips that will help you find how to delete your accounts:
In most cases, account deletion options are found in the settings menu, usually under menus labeled “Account,” “Profile,” or “Privacy.” Log in to the account, then check every menu.
Still no luck? Contact the company by email, phone, or even their official social media profiles. In most cases, you’ll be able to find the steps for deleting your account before it comes to this, but it’s still an option to keep in mind.