Everyone knows there are certain pieces of information that should be as secure as possible to avoid an unpleasant situation in the future. But exactly what information needs to be guarded the most? What happens if another party gains access to it?
Here are five things that are so vital, you should protect them with your life.
1. Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
Any piece of data that can be linked to only one individual is considered PII. The importance of protecting one’s PII cannot be overstated. If a criminal obtains your Social Security number, maiden name, financial information, or any other part of your personal information, that could be enough to steal your identity. The information could also be sold to a third party.
2. Credit Score
The crime known as “identity theft” victimizes millions of Americans every year, and it can have serious consequences. Unprotected information can be used to get access to your finances.
It can take weeks or months to remove fraudulent information from a credit report, which can hurt your ability to obtain a loan or rent property. Checking your credit report regularly — that is, at least once a year — can help alert you to a possible problem before it gets out of hand.
3. Your child online
Some may be surprised to learn that children are a prime target of identity thieves. Parents do not often think to check the credit scores of their children, so criminal activity is less likely to be detected. Thieves will use a child’s clean record to take out loans and gain employment with no thought to how this will affect the boy or girl’s future.
4. Career path
Victims of identity theft sometimes encounter problems when seeking a job. A stolen identity can cause a background check performed for employment purposes to show a false criminal record.
5. Online reputation
Background checks and credit reports are not the only factors that can have an impact on your job search. Employers are looking deeper into our online reputations than they ever have before.
Blogs, Facebook, and user-generated-content sites are all windows into our personal lives that businesses increasingly exploit. Anyone thinking about applying for a job should enter his or her name in a few search engines to see what surfaces.
Protecting our online reputations, credit scores, jobs, and personal information about us and our children will make life run more smoothly. Always think about a site’s reputation before entering personally identifiable information into it.
Keeping your browser security up to date, using different passwords for every website and avoiding suspicious links will protect your sensitive information from those that would use it in destructive ways.