Understanding and Protecting Personally Identifiable Information (PII)


What is Pii?  It is Personally Identifiable Information (PII), a term used in information technology sector to describe information about an individual that could potentially identify that person, such as a name, email address, street address, telephone number or social security number or other biometric data, number.  The abbreviation PII pronounced pii is widely accepted, but the phrase it abbreviates has four common variants.  Again PII can be any identifiable information however in accordance with Information Security arena these four distinctive characteristics should be protected and encrypted because used together can give up your identity.

  • Full Name
  • Birthdate,
  • SSN,
  •  Address

Not a new term but it is increasingly growing awareness due to the amount of identity thefts.  Also the internet has made it easier to collect PII through breaches of internet security, network security and web browser security, leading to a profitable market in collecting and reselling PII. PII can also be exploited by criminals to stalk or steal the identity of a person, or to plan a person’s murder or robbery, among other serious crimes.

As a response to these threats, many website privacy policies specifically address the collection of PII, and lawmakers have enacted a series of legislation to limit the distribution and accessibility of PII.  Therefore when dealing with any or a combination of the four items listed above –  be vigilant.  Don’t share PII over the phone.  Legitimate sources will understand your hesitancy about sharing the information.

Additional tips for maintaining PII:

Shred information that contains PII – do not throw in trash

Only share with people on a need to know basis. Don’t give this information out unless it is to appropriate sources – Doctor’s office, your financial institution.

Don’t carry around all your credit cards or Social Security Information. Keep them in a secure location that is water and fire proof.

Remember always protect your PII.


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