Your personally identifiable information, or PII, can be surprisingly easy to find online. What is this, exactly? Put simply, it is any data that someone else could use to find you, identify you, and get in touch with you. So, this would include details like your name and where you live, your phone number, when you were born, your criminal record, your medical record, and even your gender and your race.
Many businesses that you interact with throughout your life will end up gathering and storing your personally identifiable information—that should come as no surprise simply because you know about all of the times that you have needed to provide this information for various reasons. But this doesn’t mean that you should have to worry about whether or not this information about you is kept secure.
If you’re concerned about your privacy, continue reading for a few tips on how to protect your PII.
See Where Your Information Is on Display Online
There are several people search websites that make it easy to find details on individuals. All you have to do is go to these sites, type in a person’s full name, and see what pops up. So, you can do this with your own name. Give it a try by going to Whitepages, typing in your name, and seeing what personal details are accessible even to strangers. If any of it makes you uncomfortable, head to the Whitepages opt out section to request that your information be removed.
The same is true for any other people search site. Another example is BeenVerified. Yet again, you can have your data removed by going to BeenVerified opt out and requesting the removal.
Not sure how to find all of these people search websites? Just perform a regular online search by typing your full name into Google. See which sites show up. For instance, you might find that Intelius also has your info, so this is yet another opportunity to go to the Intelius opt out page and regain control.
Make Your Social Media Accounts Private
In addition to people search websites, another place where people can go to find personal information about you is your social media pages. Think about all of the personal details, from your workplace to your birthday, that you share on there, on top of all of the photos and videos. It’ll quickly become clear that you might have shared more than you actually feel comfortable with!
Making your social media accounts private is one step you can take to further secure your PII. Beyond that, however, you might want to limit your network to people you actually know, such as relatives and friends that you have met in person. But removing personal info that identifies you is really the best way to ensure your social media accounts won’t end up giving away more details than you want.
Be Cautious About Where You Share Your Details
There are certain instances in which you will need to share personally identifiable information, but there are also a lot of scammers out there who will try to steal your information or trick you into sharing it. Therefore, before providing personal details, be sure you know and trust the person or business that you are giving it to. This smart strategy can help protect you against problems like identity theft.