Let’s face it: we give big tech companies a lot more information than we should or prefer to. What we do online, what we like, where we go and what we buy is ready to be taken.
You can’t really get around data sharing, but there are steps you can take to minimize it. To get started, take a look at everything Google knows. You will be shocked.
Now is the time to dive into Amazon’s settings. Be honest, when was the last time you clicked on these? If your answer is anything but last week, you have work to do.
Since many of these steps are on Amazon, tap or click here to log into your Amazon account right away.
1. Block Amazon from tracking your browsing
Amazon tracks your browsing activity by default. The company saves your searches, including items you̵
All of this information helps Amazon create targeted ads. That’s why you see products strangely similar to the ones you’ve been looking for. Although your browsing history is hidden from the public, you may find this habit creepy.
Here’s how to stop Amazon from tracking your browsing activity:
- Log into your account on Amazon.com.
- In the top menu below the Amazon search bar, click Browsing history.
- On the next page, click Manage your history drop down arrow.
- Activate / deactivate Transform your browsing history on / off a Off.
You can also opt out of personalized ads in just a few clicks:
- Go to Your account page.
- Under “Communication and content”, click Advertising preferences.
- On this page, select Don’t show me interest-based ads provided by Amazon.
- Hit Send.
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2. Double-check your lists
There are two main “lists” on Amazon: the shopping list and the wish list. You can use your wish list for gift ideas or to keep track of the items you want to buy later.
The problem is that anyone in the world can find your wish list by searching for your name. If you have a very common name, it may not be easy to spot. But if strangers find out where you live, they might infer and identify your profile.
To check the privacy settings of your Amazon lists:
- Click on Accounts and lists drop-down box then select Wishlist.
- Click the three dots next to “Send list to others“ at the top right, then select Manage List.
- Here you can edit the list details such as the list name, recipient name, email, date of birth and privacy.
- To change the privacy settings of the list from Public, click and select Private in the drop-down box. You can also select here whether items can be added to your list via Alexa.
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3. Remove your public profile
We don’t often think of our Amazon account as our profile. However, that’s what it is. People are always surprised when I tell them this is public too.
Your profile is created automatically, whether you like it or not, and contains comments, ratings, public wish lists, biographical information, and other interactions with the site. It doesn’t include your purchases or browsing history, but it’s still very informative.
If you want to check which activity is visible on your public profile, follow these steps:
- Log into your Amazon account. Click Accounts and lists.
- Under “Order and purchase preferences”, click Your Amazon profile.
- Click on the orange box marked Edit your public profile.
- Here, you’ll see Edit profile is Change your privacy settings.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell what others can see. If you’d like a quick glance at the information you share publicly, click “View your profile as a visitor”. You can tell at a glance if you are sharing something you don’t want in the public arena.
If your profile shows your real name or other information you don’t want, go back to the profile settings page and click Edit profile tab. It is located right next to the Change your privacy settings tab.
You can edit or delete any information such as your bio, occupation and location. You can even change the “public name” on your profile and post reviews anonymously.
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4. Listen and delete your Alexa recordings
If you have an Alexa-enabled device, you probably know its secret: the device records a lot of what you say. Alexa does not store these recordings on the device itself but on Amazon’s servers.
You can review your voice log with the Alexa app on iOS and Android and listen to all your requests.
Do you want to set them to automatically delete them after a certain period of time? In the Alexa app, go to settings > Alexa Privacy > Manage your Alexa data. Under “Manage your voice recordings”, select Automatically delete recordings and select if this happens every 3 months or every 18 months.
You can also ask Alexa to delete the recordings for you. To enable it, go to settings > Alexa Privacy > Review your voice history in the Alexa app.
Now you can say “Alexa, delete everything I said today” or “Alexa, delete what I just said”.
Amazon warns: “Deleting voice recordings may compromise your Alexa experience.” Duly noted.
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5. Disable voice purchases or set a pin
Voice ordering sure sounds convenient, and it really can be if you find yourself ordering the same items month after month.
But for most people, it’s probably something you only come across in the event of an accident. You can disable voice purchasing by following these steps:
- Open your Alexa app.
- Tap the three bars in the bottom right corner and select settings > Account settings.
- Tap Voice purchase and slide the switch to disable “Buy with voice”.
If you still want the convenience (and sci-fi vibe) of Alexa voice buying, you should set up a PIN code to prevent unauthorized purchases.
To set it up:
- Go to the same voice purchase settings page on your Alexa app.
- To enable Buy by voice, then turn on / off Voice code to On.
- This will ask you to enter your 4-digit PIN code.
After setting up a voice code, you need to say the 4-digit code to complete a purchase on your Alexa-enabled device.
Of course, anyone can listen to and reuse your code. A voice purchase PIN adds a sheen of security, but it’s by no means foolproof.
TECH SMARTS BONUS TIP: Do I feel curious? How to perform a background check
Apply for a job? Are you thinking of renting an apartment? Are you looking to get insurance? It is more than likely that companies, institutions, and even people you have contacted will perform a background check on you.
Simply put, information and privacy go both ways and it’s all in the name of security – you want to know more about them, and vice versa, they want to know more about you. And beware, these reports are comprehensive and may include your income level, loans, debt, criminal record, and other sensitive data.
This is why you need to run a background check on yourself and see what data these institutions, potential employers, and various companies may request from you.
Tap or click here for detailed instructions to see exactly what’s out there.
What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.
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Check out all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim answers calls and provides advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data breaches. For his daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit his website at Komando.com.