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What is Personally Identifiable Information (PII)?

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What is Personally Identifiable Information (PII)?


What is Personally Identifiable Information (PII)?

Personally identifiable information (PII), is any data that could potentially be used to identify a particular person. This can include a number of things from your Social Security number to your email address. Below, we’ve compiled a list of things that may be considered PII under the law. 

  • Name
  • Race
  • Gender
  • Email Address
  • Social Security number
  • Bank Account Number
  • Credit/Debt Card Numbers 
  • Street Address
  • Driver’s License Number
  • Passport Number
  • Medical Information
  • Insurance Information
  • IP Addresses
  • Social Media Usernames

This is just a list of information that is currently considered PII. This list is constantly being updated and changing.

Data Breaches & Your PII

You can hardly pick up a newspaper or visit a major online news source without reading about an incident involving a data breach. Laptops are stolen, private information is mistakenly exposed on public Web sites, and employees access data for illegal purposes.

Nobody is immune from data breaches, and sometimes it doesn’t matter how protective of your PII you are. Data copied and distributed without authorization can result in legal complications that include violation of a data breach notification statute, identity theft, loss of employment, financial damages, and damages for breach of a legal statutory duty or obligation.

The time to prepare for a data breach is now, not after it occurs. Obviously, thinking about a data breach is stressful and isn’t fun, but being prepared to take the appropriate steps after one is important. 

How to Keep and Eye on Your PII

You can’t have identity theft without PII. So it’s important to do everything you can to protect your personally identifiable information. Even if it seems silly, doing whatever you can to protect your PII is of vast importance. 

Here is a small sample of what you can do: 

  • Limit what you share on social media.
  • Shred important documents before discarding them.
  • Avoid handing over your Social Security number just because someone asks for it. Make sure they need it, and ask how they’ll protect it.
  • Store your Social Security card in a safe place, not in your wallet.

There’s a lot more you can do, but the key point is to think twice about sharing your PII—and even more often about protecting it. 

What to Do If Your PII Has Been Breached?

If your PII has been breached and your identity has been compromised, Maginnis Law’s attorneys would like to speak with you. You can reach our attorneys by phone at 919.526.0450 or by email at info@maginnislaw.com

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