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The 10 Types of Personal Identifying Information (PII) That You Must Protect

October 5, 2022 | 4 min read
A decade or two ago, personal security was more physical. The digital era changed all that. Now personal data security is all about digital access.
Knowing which bits of personal identifying information to keep secret is a priority—essential to keeping your physical, financial, and legal security in check. We’ve outlined the top 10 personal identifying information, or PIIs, that should be for your eyes only.
Types of Personal Information To Keep Safe
1. Your Full Legal Name
There are instances when it’s safe to give out your full legal name. You do this when taking out loans, opening bank accounts, or making a large purchase, like buying a vehicle or a house. As much as possible, car companies, your realtor’s office, financial institutions, or government agencies, when authentic and reputable, will keep your personal information safe.
However, you must not give out your full legal name to just anyone. It’s advisable not to use it on your social media accounts, and don’t post photos of your passport or driver’s license online. Write your full legal name only on legal documents or when required by authorities.
2. Personal ID Numbers or PINs
Your personal identification number (PIN) is a hot target for identity thieves. After all, you use your PIN when completing transactions with credit or debit cards. Your PIN in the wrong hands will lead to serious financial repercussions. Memorize your PIN; do not write it down anywhere. Even PINs that are not financially related must be safeguarded.
3. Vehicle ID Number or VINs
Few people place protecting their vehicle ID as a priority. However, some tricky scammers can use your vehicle ID to register a stolen vehicle or create copies of your car keys. Share your vehicle ID only when necessary, like when you sell your car.
4. Social Security Number
Social Security Numbers (SSN) require the utmost protection, as they are one of the most sought-after pieces of personal information by identity thieves. Using your SSN, an individual can steal your identity, open bank accounts, collect benefits, or file false tax returns. Memorize your number and keep your Social Security card safe at home.
5. Credit Card Details
127 million Americans have been victims of credit card fraud at least once. Fraudsters may only use your card to shop, but they can also sell your information to other parties. One way to prevent fraud is always to avoid responding to unsolicited messages asking for your credit card information. Fraudsters get clever by the day. Better safe than sorry.
6. Residential Addresses
When registering their LLC or business, some entrepreneurs use their home address if they have no office space or shop. Not advisable. You make yourself and your family vulnerable when using your home address because the Secretary of State where you registered your business will make your home address available to the public domain.
A virtual mailbox solves this problem by providing a permanent, real street address to receive your business mail without the threat of privacy invasions. It adds a layer of safety and security.
Even if you don’t use your physical address for business, you must still keep it safe. Rip out address labels from magazines or junk mail before you throw them out for recycling.
7. Phone Numbers
Individuals who acquire your phone number illegally can not only try to scam you but also target your contacts. For example, they may text a friend or relative and convince them to send money. Avoid putting your phone number on your social media or other public-facing accounts.
8. Biometrics Data
You use biometrics whenever you use facial or fingerprint recognition to open your phone. Unfortunately, criminals are finding new ways to copy or retrieve people’s fingerprints to unlock phones or other devices. Use two-factor authentication to add extra protection to your email and financial accounts especially.
9. Date of Birth
Your date of birth, combined with your full name and address, is valuable information for data thieves. Like your phone number, try not to display your birth date across your online profiles. Even just disclosing the month or day is not safe because anyone can guess your birth year from the social media profiles of your school-era friends.
10. Email Address
Just as thieves try to find someone’s home address, they also are often on the lookout for email addresses. With your email, hackers can read your messages or access important profiles, like your bank account.
Set up two-factor authentication and security questions for your email accounts. Additionally, do not display your email address across public domains.
Look For Ways To Add Extra Layers of Protection to Your Personal Identifying Information (PII)
People realize the security benefits of a virtual mailbox relating to physical and digital security. Using a virtual mailbox address (not a PO Box) adds a layer of safety because no one will know your actual home address unless you share it with them.
  • Safer Alternative to Your Home Address
    A virtual mailbox includes a real street address. You can use this address to keep your home address safe. For example, when you register your business, the address you use becomes a public record. To protect your identity, use the real street address that comes with your virtual mailbox. It’s essentially your “virtual business address.”
  • Postal Mail and Packages are Delivered to a Staffed Location
    Typically most virtual mailboxes are tied to a staffed location. So now all your postal mail, especially packages, are received and stored securely until you direct, via an app on your phone, to have them forwarded to you, or you simply stop by to pick them up when convenient. Plus, if you need to read a critical piece of mail, you can request an open & scan, and the staffed location makes that happen.
If you’re worried about the security of your home address, a virtual mailbox alleviates that stress. Learn more about our virtual mailbox and how to get started today.