Everyone knows that scammers often try to steal your personal information through fake calls and messages. But what exactly counts as personal information? Don’t assume you already know the answer. Many people might have misconceptions about it.
As is known, personal information refers to the information that can be used to identify an individual. In the time of the internet, your personal information may be easily collected everywhere, yet you may not even notice it.
To help you clearly grasp the meaning of personal information, the article below will run based on personal information categories and personalization levels so that you’ll be able to easily and effortlessly identify the important personal information and protect yourselves against potential scams.
Personalization Level: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Name (First name, Family name, other names)
- Mailing address
- ZIP/Postal code
- Email address
- Social media handle
- Phone number
Personal information must include a person’s full name (that is undoubtedly true), but even their first name alone can be considered personal information depending on the context in which it is found, which is seldom known.
Here are the main examples of situations where a first name can be considered personal information:
- When combined with other identifiable information such as last name, address, phone number, or email address;
- In professional or workplace contexts where there is limited personnel or a small team;
- Online profiles and social media
- In customer or client databases
- On healthcare or medical records
Mailing address and ZIP/Postal code
Mailing address and ZIP/Postal code are definitely personal information that can’t be provided randomly. Both items indicate the real offline place you’re living. If both items are known by scammers, it’s a piece of cake for them to target you in real life.
Nowadays, a phone number is 100% personal information you should totally protect because it not only is used as a communication tool to call and text, but also it’s a common link between your online identity and offline one. Perhaps you may wonder if an anonymous number indicating no name of the number owner is useful for scammers. Sadly, YES!
In addition, a phone number plays an important role as an easy-to-use online identification when an account is to be established on a website or application via SMS verification. ID numbers may be different across borders but phone numbers can work everywhere as long as they have real area codes and digits. So, a phone number is 100% personal information to guard with life.
Level of Personalization: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Social Security number (US)
- National insurance number (UK)
- Passport number
- Driver’s license number
- Taxpayer identity number
- Insurance policy number
All of the above numbers pertain to personal information at all times, so do not share them randomly. It’s worthwhile to note that ID numbers are different across countries and areas but they have similar identification features. When an ID number is used within a certain country or area, it indicates the identity of a unique person.
Level of Personalization: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Cookie ID
- IP address
- Location data
- Radiofrequency identification tag
- MAC address
- Pixel tag
- Device fingerprint
- Browsing history
- App and website usage data
- Android or Apple ID
- User-generated content
All the information concerned above belongs to online information that is generated while Internet users are using the Internet. Like First name mentioned above, most of the online information doesn’t belong to very important personal information whenever it’s combined with other information.
For example, an IP address alone doesn’t indicate anything personally important, but it depends on which party or individual is holding the data. Because IP addresses are unique for everyone and when it combined with your browsing history, favorite websites, or applications, your favors will be easily generated so that telemarketers will effortlessly target your demands and give you spam calls or texts that may seduce you to spend money. If your IP address is combined with the mailing address that belongs to your contact information, your accurate geographic location will be instantly grasped.
Basically, the leading categories of personal information are included in the above parts of the article. As is known, scammers aim at your personal information and you should be cautious about your personal information before you give it out. In addition, pay full attention to all the access to your personal information via the plugin from third-party channels. For example, as you create an account on a website, you can do that via phone number, email, Google account, Apple ID, etc. No matter which method is used, all the data linked with the account will be possibly shared and automatically provided. Therefore, it’s of great necessity to protect your personal information from identity theft or privacy leaks.