Let’s face it: we give big tech companies a lot more information than we should or ideally prefer. What we do online, what we like, where we go, and what we buy is available.
You really can’t bypass the data exchange, but there are steps you can take to minimize it. First, take a look at everything Google knows. You will be shocked.
Now it’s time to dive into your Amazon settings. Be honest, when was the last time you clicked through these? If your answer is anything but last week, you still have work to do.
Since many of these steps are done on Amazon, tap or click here to sign into your Amazon account now.
1. Prevent Amazon from tracking your browsing
By default, Amazon tracks your browsing activity. The company stores your searches, including recently viewed items and the product categories you browsed.
All of this information helps Amazon create targeted ads. That̵
To prevent Amazon from tracking your browsing activity:
- Sign into your account on Amazon.com.
- In the top menu under the Amazon search bar, click Browser history.
- On the next page, click Manage history Drop down arrow.
- Switch Rotate browsing history on / off closed out.
You can also turn off personalized ads with just a few clicks:
- Go to Your account Page.
- Under Communication and Content, click Advertising preferences.
- Select on this page Don’t show me interest-based ads from Amazon.
- Beat Submit.
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2. Review your lists
There are two main lists on Amazon: the shopping list and the wish list. You can use your wishlist for gift ideas or to keep track of items that you want to buy later.
The problem is, anyone in the world can find your wish list by searching for your name. When you have a very common name it may not be easy to pinpoint. However, when strangers find out where you live, they can derive and identify your profile.
To check the privacy settings of your Amazon lists:
- click on Accounts & lists Then select the dropdown box Wish list.
- Click on the three dots next to “Send list to others”” at the top right, then choose Manage list.
- Here you can change your list details like your list name, recipient name, email address, birthday, and privacy.
- How to change the privacy settings of the list of Publicity, click and choose Private on the drop-down box. Here you can also choose 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. But that’s it too. People are always surprised when I tell them that this is also public.
Your profile is automatically created, whether you like it or not, and it includes comments, ratings, public wishlists, biographical information, and other interactions with the website. It doesn’t contain your purchases or browsing history, but it’s still very informative.
If you want to control what activity appears on your public profile, here’s how:
- Sign in to your Amazon account. click Accounts and Lists.
- Under “Ordering and Shopping Preferences”, click Your Amazon profile.
- Click the orange box Edit your public profile.
- Here you will see edit profile and Edit privacy settings.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell what other people can see. For a quick look at what information you share publicly, click View Profile as Visitor. You can tell at a glance if you’re sharing something you don’t want in public.
If your profile has your real name or other information that you don’t want, return to the profile settings page and click edit profile Tab. It’s right next to the Edit privacy settings Tab.
You can edit or delete any information such as your bio, job, and location. You can even change the “public name” on your profile and post reviews anonymously.
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4. Listen to your Alexa recordings and delete them
If you own an Alexa-enabled device, you probably know its secret: the device records a lot of what you say. Alexa does not save these recordings in the device itself, but on Amazon’s servers.
You can check your voice log with the Alexa app on iOS and Android and listen to all of your requests.
Would you like to set them up so that they are automatically deleted after a certain period of time? Go to in the Alexa app the settings > Alexa data protection > Manage your Alexa data. Select the option under “Manage voice recordings” Delete recordings automatically and choose whether this happens every 3 months or every 18 months.
You can also ask Alexa to delete recordings for you. To activate this, go to the settings > Alexa data protection > Check the 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 can affect your Alexa experience.” Noted.
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5. Disable voice purchases or set a PIN
Ordering by voice sure sounds convenient, and it can really be when you order the same items month after month.
But for most people, it’s likely something that you only come across by accident. You can deactivate voice purchase as follows:
- Open your Alexa app.
- Tap the three bars in the lower right corner and select the settings > Account settings.
- Tap Language purchase and slide the switch to turn off Buy by Voice.
If you still want the convenience (and sci-fi atmosphere) of Alexa voice buying, consider setting up a PIN code to avoid unauthorized purchases.
How to set it up:
- Go to the same Voice Purchase Settings page in your Alexa app.
- Activate Purchase by vote, then toggle Language code to one.
- This will ask you to enter your 4-digit PIN code.
Once you have configured a language code, the 4-digit code must be pronounced in order to complete a purchase on your Alexa-enabled device.
Of course, anyone can listen to and reuse your code. A PIN for buying votes provides additional security, but is hardly foolproof.
BONUS TECH SMARTS TIP: Pry? How to do a background check
Apply? Are you planning to rent an apartment? Are you trying to get insurance? It is more than likely that the companies, institutions, and even people you have contacted will conduct a background check for you.
Put simply, information and privacy go both ways, and it’s all in the name of security – you want to know more about them and, conversely, they want to know more about you. And mind you, these reports are comprehensive and can include your income levels, loans, debts, criminal records, and other sensitive information.
Because of this, you need to do a background check on yourself and determine what data these institutions, potential employers, and various companies can request about you.
Tap or click here for a step-by-step guide to see exactly what’s out there.
What questions do you have about the digital lifestyle? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can hear or watch the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, TV or computer. Or tap or click to view Kim’s free podcasts.
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Learn about the latest technology at the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and offers advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacking. For her daily tips, free newsletters, and more, visit her website at Komando.com.