You can do it… but should you?
It is possible to make yourself “disappear” from the Internet, says Porch.com security expert Robert Siciliano. But, he warns in an informative post, there isn’t an undo option for many of these tactics. Once you delete emails from a long-abandoned account, for example, they are never coming back.
Sue Scheff, author of Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate, also encourages you to think twice about erasing yourself from the Internet, as human-resource departments and college-admissions offices often use social media to review candidates. “If someone goes off-grid, this can be held against them. Companies will believe they either have an alias or maybe they aren’t that tech-savvy,” she explains. “For students, their admission spot could go to someone who has an online presence that showcases their attributes.”
But if you are sure that you want to stop the Googles and Facebooks of the world from knowing everything you’ve searched for and purchased online, or if you’ve had bad experiences with identity theft and cybercrime, these are some steps you can take to erase nearly your entire digital footprint.
Even if you don’t go this extreme route, you should definitely know these essential tips on how to prevent identity theft and other cyber scams.
Make sure you are removed entirely from data-broker services
“Like credit-reporting agencies, these brokers never seek our permission or approval to collect our personal information, yet they do while also profiting from it. There are firms out there specialising in brand management (notably, Delete Me) that will charge for annual ‘protection plans’ and guarantee removal of one’s personal data from such data-broker services.” —Armond Çağlar, principal consultant with Liberty Advisor Group.
Delete old email accounts
“Deleting old email accounts requires an accurate username and password to first get into the account. However, not everyone remembers their email password to an account they used ten years ago. For this reason, you have to reach out to the email service provider to request credentials to the account. Some email service providers like MSN or Yahoo will automatically delete email accounts if they are not used over a set amount of time. Otherwise, you’ll have to manually get into the account to delete it permanently.” —Jeff Romero, co-founder of Octiv Digital.