A Quick Guide to Consumer Privacy

Always be careful about what you share online, but even more so when it comes to sensitive information

In today’s highly connected digital age, each of us will generate an enormous amount of data over the course of our lives. This trail of information can include when and where you were born, where you live, where you work, what you buy, your Social Security Number (SSN), and bank account numbers. If you’re highly social online, this data can include more personal information such as the year you graduated, where you eat and when you’re out of town—all of which can be used to crack passwords, sneak “test charges” onto your accounts, or worse.

Even if you’re not on social media, sharing your information online can feel unavoidable. It’s how many of us streamline our day-to-day lives, pay bills, communicate, do our jobs, and make purchases.

However, you’ve got more control over your online data than you might think. It’s nearly impossible to be completely anonymous online, but you can limit how much highly sensitive information you reveal. To help you make safer decisions about what you share and with whom, we’ve bucketed this information into two categories: Moderately Sensitive, and Highly Sensitive.

Moderately Sensitive personally identifiable information can include...

  • 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 can include...

  • SSN or Individual Tax Identification Numbers
  • Bank or checking account numbers
  • Credit card numbers, or a combination of a credit card number and expiration date or the Card Verification Value (CVV, the three- to four-digit security code for your card)
  • Debit card numbers
  • Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) and passwords
  • Previously used names (e.g., maiden names, previous married names, and mother’s maiden name)
  • Passport numbers
  • Driver’s license number or state ID card number
  • Insurance policy numbers
  • 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).

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.


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