Troubleshooter

A warning for anyone with a computer

Monday, May 23, 2011

The average person has between 50 to 100 online accounts over their lifetime. That includes social media, multiple e-mails, banking and many accounts that have probably been forgotten about, but that can live on, even after some is gone.

Janice Collins says she wishes her family had a plan when she lost her daughter, Erica, unexpectedly in 2007.

She says when she started sorting through all her daughter's memories; she discovered online social networking accounts and e-mail accounts - including Hotmail.

"She had a lot of passwords written down, but none of them for that particular account," Collins said.

So she says, she contacted Hotmail to get access.

"I told them I wanted to get in there and check her e-mail and they told me it didn't matter that was their privacy and her privacy and there was no way they were going to let me in there," Collins said. "Her Hotmail account is the one she did everything through and this is the one that to this day maybe there was something .. maybe there was an e-mail that was sent."

And it's not just e-mails, there are pictures and personal memories posted on other shared sites. If you don't plan ahead, your family may have no claim to them when you're gone.

That's why two Triangle men, John Romano And Evan Carroll, wrote a book, "Your Digital Afterlife," on how to protect yourself now, so we don't leave loved ones with a web of problems.

They say they are trying to spread the word that just like you need a will, you need a digital plan too, because every site has its own policy.

"Twitter has an interesting option; they will package up all of your tweets for you, after death, at the request and then close the account down," Romano said.

But some accounts, like Yahoo, will shut down your account and delete everything as soon as they learn you're gone.

"The importance of planning ahead is that you can share your user names and passwords with a trusted executor who can take actions on your behalf so things will be done in the way you want them to be done," Carroll said.

And some accounts, they say, you want to shut down immediately.

"If you have credentials to someone's PayPal account you can actually spend their money," Carroll said.

Causing even more pain in an already tough time for the people you leave behind.

"It's something you get through you never get over it you get through it," Collins said.

To learn more about "Your Digital Afterlife," visit their website www.yourdigitalafterlife.com

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