How to manage your Google identity when you die

Google_logo_150x155If you have lost a loved one, or don’t want your personal life to remain in the online world when you die, it might be a good idea to register with Google Inactive Account Manager. Why would you want to do this or worry about your online identity? It’s a simple answer – *Deceased identity fraud or as some refer to is – “ghosting” is a growing fraud against the dead. In some instances relatives can bear the cost, so it’s great to see Google introducing Inactive Account Manager. Facebook, it is now your move!

*Deceased identity fraud is a growing fraud both in the US, Europe and UK, so it’s even more important that you understand the risks of leaving your personal data in cyber space. Deceased identity fraud is where people assume the identities of dead people to fraudulently obtain credit card accounts, apply for loans and mobile phone contracts. Each year 2.5m deceased Americans were victims of “ghosting”. ID Analytics, March 2013

Why would you use Inactive Account Manager?

  • You can set the timeout period – this will delete your data after three, six, nine or 12 months of inactivity. This period starts with your last sign-in to your Google account
  • Select trusted contacts to receive data from some or all of the the following services – +1s; Blogger; Contacts and Circles; Drive; Gmail; Google+ Profiles, Pages and Streams; Picasa Web Albums; Google Voice and YouTube
  • Alert me will alert you via email or text message before the timeout period for deleting your data. Obviously, make sure this isn’t your mobile device or email address!

Note: Nothing for Google Apps and Google backups though. In time, Google will find a method of purging this data.

In addition to Inactive Account Manager I’d also suggest people use Account Activity

This feature creates monthly reports on your usage of Google products. You can see account sign-ins via location/browsers and platforms (i.e. Android, Mac, Windows); Authentication changes on apps, websites etc; Google Calendar events; emails sent and Web history; YouTube videos viewed/searched etc and Picasa Web Albums.

Any time you delete data i.e. Web History, this will also show up in your report if it’s recorded by Account Activity prior to deletion. You can delete your reports at any time. You can also pause your Account Activity Reports click > Settings form the gear icon at the top of your report > check the “Pause report generation” box. You should now understand that the main advantage of Account Activity is that you can control and manage all your Google products with ease.

It’s also important that you consider a digital will in addition to a regular will. Don’t leave it until it is too late, otherwise you risk your digital world remaining in cyberspace after your death. Some of you might relish this thought, others not. You decide as you control your online and offline identity.

My personal opinion is that after I die, my online identity should be automatically deleted but then again not all my data will be ‘sensitive’. What is defined as ‘sensitive’ data? ISPs store lots of web and email data about us too, so what should they do with your profile data? There are more questions than answers right now.

Safe surfing folks!

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