Throughout our day-to-day lives, each of us generates an enormous amount of data. When and where you were born, where you live, where you work, what you buy, your Social Security Number (SSN), bank account numbers—it’s all important information about you, your life and your finances. It makes up a big part of your identity and it’s important to protect it.
Most of the information you share is used by legitimate businesses and, as consumers, agreeing to share information generally offers you some value in return. While there are often significant benefits to sharing information, it is important to be aware of the information that you are giving away, know who you are giving it to and how they plan to use it.
You have more control than you might think. While it’s nearly impossible to be completely anonymous and not share any personal information at all, you can limit how much information you reveal about yourself. The first step is awareness, knowing what sensitive, personal information is, and making smart choices about how—and with whom you are willing to share.
What information is personal?
Moderately sensitive personally identifiable information
- Name (first and last or first initial and last name)
- Home address
- Telephone numbers
- Date of birth
- E-mail addresses
Highly sensitive personally identifiable information
- SSN or Individual Tax Identification Number
- Bank or checking account number
- Credit card number (by itself) or the combination of credit card number and expiration date and/or the “Card Verification Value” (the three to four digit security code for your card).
- Debit card number
- Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) and passwords
- Previously used names (including maiden names, previous married names, and mother’s maiden name)
- Passport number
- Driver’s license number or state ID card number
- Insurance policy number
- Health information
- Other “confidential” financial information (such as salary, tax forms, and information about other financial accounts, such as a mortgage, retirement, or investment account).
Ways that victims discovered identity theft:1
- Contacted by financial institution = 42.1%
- Noticed fraudulent charges on account = 18.6%
- Noticed money missing from account = 9.9%
- Notified by a company or agency = 6.4%
- Contacted financial institution to report a theft = 5.5%
- Credit Card declined, check bounced, or account closed due to insufficient funds = 5.0%
- Received a bill or contacted about an unpaid bill = 4.3%
- Other = 12.5%
Safeguard against identity theft!
Follow a few simple tips to protect your identity. This brochure offers methods for safer online shopping and recovery from identity theft.ID Theft Prevention Brochure (361 KB PDF)
This site is for education purposes. The material provided on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice or to indicate the availability or suitability of any Capital One product or service to your unique circumstances. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.
Source: The National Cyber Security Alliance, November 2010