Monday, March 9, 2015

The New "Lock Your Doors"

People had to learn to lock their doors to increase the protection of their homes or cars.  This is just like that.  People need to learn what to do with any information that can identify who they are.  Let me talk to you about Personal Identity Information (PII).  PII is anything that can be used to identify you.  It includes name, address, phone number, email address, birthdate, zip code, log in usernames, passwords, fingerprints, DNA, and more.

Everything has gone digital: bank records, voting records, medical records, school records, social media, etc.  You are out there in the world, exposed more now than ever before.  Your information is literally at anyone's fingertips.  This is why it is so important to be more cautious about who you share that information with and how you share it.

Companies are always asking for more, but their policies do not protect you as a consumer.  So, when you are standing in person at the check out and they ask for your phone number or email address, they are trying to get more of your information to use to market or even SELL to other companies to use to try to target you as a consumer.  You do not need to give out this information.  Plus, you don't gain from doing it.  They tell you that it's to get coupons or special promotions in the mail, but you can find those if you are looking.  They don't need your information for you to get theirs.  So, just politely decline.  Or, set up a dummy email account that is used strictly for companies to target.  Just don't use that email for financial or personal interactions.

Don't be this person!
When on social media, be cautious.  Make your security settings private, and check in on them every few months (because things do change.)  On your own page, do not post things like your phone number, email address, physical address, even geolocation.  Wait to post your vacation pictures until you are back home.  I know it's neat to share, but if you are away from home, the last thing you want to do is tell people "Hey!  There's an empty house, and here's the address!"  You don't know who the "friends of your friends" are and who can see what you wrote when someone else "likes" it.  When you are on a public page, do not post your paypal address, zip code, phone numbers, or physical address.  You don't know who else is watching and who can gain that information.  If you need to get that information to one person/company for whatever reason, then send it in a Private Message (PM.)  That way, you have a record of who you gave that information to and why.

Try to keep a record of who you give information to.  When you are in person, write down what companies you used your credit card at, which ones asked for your phone number or email address, and who you gave a business card to.  When online, print screen, print screen, print screen.  Keep a picture file on your computer (and back it up somewhere else) and dump all the print screens there.  That way, if something goes wrong, you have a record of when and who has your information.

The only way to protect yourself is to protect your PII.  The internet has made many things faster and more convenient, but protecting your information is not one of those things.  The internet has made that harder and more tedious.


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