This week, our team wants to stress the importance of not giving out sensitive, personal information online. When you include personal information online — especially on social media — you never know who may see it. It is important to be very careful about what sensitive information you make available to the public when using the Internet!
What information should I avoid making public online?
Any personal or identifying information is best kept to yourself. Sensitive information such as any financial information or your social security number is a given — this information could put you at risk for financial or identity theft if you made it available online. It would be best if you also avoided including information such as your address, phone number, or full birth date.
According to Justice.gov, “sharing sensitive information such as your address, phone number, family members’ names, car information, passwords, work history, credit status, social security numbers, birth date, school names, passport information, driver’s license numbers, insurance policy numbers, loan numbers, credit/ debit card numbers, PINs, and bank account information is risky and should be avoided.” Always avoid including any of this information in any status updates, messages, comments, posts, or any other public-facing domain of the Internet.
What do I do if someone asks me to provide this information?
If a person or a company asks you to provide your sensitive information, it is best practice to avoid doing so. The person on the other end may not be who they claim they are. If you receive an unsolicited request from a random profile you have never seen, you should avoid any contact with that profile and report it as spam immediately.
If you are speaking to a company and they ask you to provide any information, it is crucial to verify that you are interacting with that company and not an imposter or scammer. You can do so by calling the organization directly and verifying their request for information.
A good rule of thumb is that companies will generally not ask you for personal information unprompted. Be suspicious if you ever receive a message out of the blue that asks for personal information, no matter the source. Remember: when in doubt, close out!
We want you to have a great experience online — and that means keeping your personal information safe and protected! We hope that spreading awareness and sharing these safety tips helps you stay safe online — and be sure to check out our blog to read more about common online scams to watch out for.