Many websites and most online services/stores require that you create an account with them. But just because they ask for information doesn't mean they should have it. Data Mining is a huge problem so giving it away without a fight is a bad idea.
Don't Sign Up at ALL!
Depending on why you want access, you many not need to create an account at all. Try to see if you can find a password to use on the password sharing website, BugMeNot.com. Volunteers post name and password combinations so people can log in without the hassle.
Be stingy. Very stingy
Fill in the absolute bare minimum necessary for service. In most cases, online forms ask for far more data than is necessary. For some sites like Facebook, there's a multi-page signup process where quite a few of those pages can be skipped entirely!
Always look for a button that skips forms. If there isn't one, try hitting the "submit" button without entering anything at all. Doing so will cause an error where the required fields will be highlighted somehow. Anything not highlighted can be ignored.
Once you've determined exactly which fields are required, make the decision whether it is necessary to provide real information.
Use a Persona
As I explain in this guide, you should create and use a persona to protect your real information. When creating an account that you can't find a ready password for, determine if any of your real information is necessary.
When possible, just fake it all! Even my own Facebook account doesn't have real information in it because it's not necessary. If I want old high-school acquaintances to find me, it won't be through Facebook so why even use my real name?
Watch the Terms and Options
In situations where you'll use an account for money, business, or anything connected to your real identity for any reason, it's a good idea to actually read the terms of service.
Of course, companies do everything they can to make it hard for you (the scum-sucking low life slimeballs). Hard to read a 14 page legal document in a tiny window that's two lines tall isn't it? Better to just skip it and agree without thinking…
Or you can just select all the text in there and copy it to a word processor program where you can read it at leisure. Don't skip this step! If it's important enough to use your real data, it's important enough to know what you're getting into.
Similarly, READ the options you're getting into when signing up. If you don't, you may agree to some free trial or other unwanted condition.
Remember to treat every online account as an abusive interrogator. They want your information to suite their own needs, and almost never as a benefit to you. Give them as little as possible!
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