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5 Amazon obscure settings you should change now

Are you taking advantage of all the perks you get with your Amazon Prime membership? Unfortunately, many people don’t know you get much more than just free two-day shipping. Ready to be pleasantly surprised? Tap or click here for a list of Amazon Prime benefits you get with a membership.

Another thing you might not realize is just how much information Amazon knows about you. If you have an Amazon account, the amount of data that the e-commerce giant collects is astonishing.

If you're concerned about privacy it's time to take matters into your own hands. You’ll definitely want to check out these five not-so-obvious settings.

1. Remove your Amazon public profile

We don't often think of our Amazon account as our profile. However, that's precisely what it is.

Your profile is created automatically, whether you want it or not, and it contains comments, ratings, public Wish Lists, biographical information and other site interaction. This profile doesn't include your purchases or browsing history but it's very informative.

If you want to control what activity is visible on your public profile, follow these steps:

  1. Put your cursor on the "Account & Lists" button and then click on "Your Account."
  2. Scroll down to the "Ordering and shopping preferences" section. Click "Your Amazon profile."
  3. Click on the link in the orange box to the right that says, "Edit your profile." Click the Edit privacy settings tab.
  4. You can select or deselect items like Reviews, Questions, Who You Follow, Public Wish Lists, Baby Registry and others. To simplify this, there's also a handy option to "Hide all activity on your profile," which turns everything off at once.

It’s sometimes hard to tell what other people can see. If you want a quick look at what information you're sharing publicly, click "View your profile as a visitor." You can tell at a glance if you're sharing anything you don't want to out in the public arena.

If your profile is showing your real name, or other biographical information you don't want, go back to the profile settings page and click the Edit profile tab. It’s located right next to the Edit Privacy settings tab.

You can edit or delete any information like your Bio, Occupation, Location and more. You can even change the "public name" on your profile and post reviews anonymously.

2. Listen and delete your Alexa recordings

If you own an Alexa-enabled device, you probably know its strange secret: the device records a lot of what you say. According to Amazon, that's because it uses this voice data to improve Alexa's functionality and obey your command.

 

Related: Still asking Alexa only for the weather and music? Tap or click here for 21 Alexa commands you’ll use over and over.

 

The downside: Alexa doesn't store these recordings in the device itself but on Amazon's servers.

Many people don't realize you can review your voice log with the Alexa app on iOS and Android. The app allows you to scroll through your activity and listen to each recording.

It's a bit tedious, but it's possible to go back and listen to the very first command you've ever uttered to Alexa. There's nothing like hearing your two-year-younger self say "What's the weather?"

Whenever I check my settings, I am always surprised by what Alexa saves that does not have the wake word in the snippet. Want to hear your recording and delete them? Tap or click here for step-by-step instructions on how to listen and delete your Alexa recordings.

Keep in mind that Amazon warns, “Deleting voice recordings may degrade your Alexa experience.”

 

Related: Did you know Alexa can help save your life? Tap or click here to learn how to have Alexa call 911 for you so that you or your family can ask Alexa to summon help when you need it.

 

3. Make your lists private

There are two main "lists" on Amazon, the Shopping List, and the Wish List. Many people use their Wish Lists for gift ideas, but we often use Wish Lists as a log of items we don't want to forget.

The trouble is, anyone in the world can find your Wish List by searching your name. Granted, if your name is “John Smith,” you may not be easy to pinpoint. But if strangers find out where you live, they may be able to deduce and identify your profile.

To check the privacy settings of your Amazon Lists:

  1. Click on the "Accounts & Lists" drop-down box then select "Your Account."
  2. Under the "Ordering and shopping preferences" section, choose "Manage your lists."
  3. Make sure the "Your Lists" tab is selected. Hover over the three dots next to "Send list to others" on the top right, then select "Manage List."
  4. Here, you can change your list details like your list name, the name of the recipient, email, birthday and most of all, its privacy.
  5. To change the list's privacy settings from "Public," simply click on and select "Private" on the drop-down box.

4. Stop Amazon from tracking your browsing

Like almost any search engine, Amazon also tracks all your browsing activity by default. The company saves your searches, including items you recently viewed and product categories you browsed. All of this information helps Amazon create targeted ads. Although your browsing history is hidden from the public, you may find this habit unsettling.

Here's how to stop Amazon from tracking your browsing activity:

  1. Log in to your account at Amazon.com.
  2. On the upper menu under the Amazon search bar, click on "Browsing History."
  3. On the next page, click on the "Manage history" drop-down arrow.
  4. Toggle "Turn Browsing History on/off" to Off.

Meanwhile, you can also turn off personalized ads, which many customers find eerie and exasperating. Here's how to turn off targeted ads on your browser:

  1. Go to "Your Account" page.
  2. Under "Communication and content," click "Advertising preferences."
  3. On this page, select "Do Not Personalize Ads from Amazon for this Internet Browser."
  4. Hit "Submit."

5. Set a PIN on Alexa purchases

“Alexa, order more shampoo.” It’s convenient to purchase items from Alexa using only your voice.

But I'd rather turn off my Echo's Voice Purchasing option altogether and use Amazon's app or website to shop. This process is much more direct and secure, and you reduce the odds of making a mistake.

To turn it off:

  1. Open your Alexa app.
  2. Tap the three bars in the upper left corner and select Account Settings.
  3. Tap Voice Purchasing and toggle "Purchase by voice" to Off (Note: slide the toggle to the left for off.)

If you still want the convenience (and the sci-fi vibe) of Alexa voice purchasing, you should set up a PIN code to avoid unauthorized purchases.

To set it up:

  1. Go to the same Voice Purchasing settings page on your Alexa app.
  2. Toggle "Purchase by voice" to On.
  3. Toggle "Voice code" to On as well.
  4. This will prompt you to enter your 4-digit PIN code.

Once you have a Voice Code configured, the 4-digit code has to be spoken out to complete a purchase on your Alexa-enabled device.

Of course, anyone can listen in and reuse your code. A voice-purchasing PIN adds a veneer of security, but it's hardly foolproof. As I said, I'd rather have Voice Purchasing set to off entirely.

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call my national radio show and click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. From buying advice to digital life issues, click here for my free podcasts.

85% of people don't use a VPN, and here's why you should

Take a minute and think about how much of your life is conducted over the internet. Information is the main currency in the digital age and preserving your personal data has never been more important. That’s why it’s critical to use a VPN. You can encrypt your data, hide your online activity, and stream content from virtually anywhere using a VPN.

Tap or click here to find out why you need to start using this VPN today.

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