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Protecting your PII

No, that wasn’t not a typo. We apologize if you thought this was a how-to article about protecting your slice of pumpkin pie from your over-indulgent cousin at your next family dinner. But protecting your PII is even more important than protecting your pie.

What is my PII?

PII stands for personally identifiable information. It’s any data that could potentially identify a specific individual. In other words, PII is any information that can be used to distinguish you from another person.

PII includes your name, address, fax and e-mail addresses, date of birth, age, sex, marital status, medical, educational, employment, credit, financial, personal identification numbers, likes, dislikes and other related family member information.

But why should you protect your PII? Well, this information can ultimately be used to commit identity theft against you.

What is identity theft?

Identity theft occurs when someone takes your information and pretends to be you for fraudulent purposes. Every year, thousands of people fall victim to identity theft. A fraudster can use your name, date of birth, address, credit card, Social Insurance Number (SIN) and other personal identification numbers to open credit cards and bank accounts, redirect mail, establish cell phone service, rent vehicles, equipment, or accommodation, and even secure employment.

How to protect your PII

Stop and think.

When you’re asked for any personal data, just stop and think twice: who needs this and why? Just remember once you give up any personal information, it’s hard to get it back. Know how your information will be used, and if you’re still not sure, keep asking questions.

No, thank you.

When you’re paying for something and the sales person asks for your birthdate, real email address or other details, just ask what they need it for. And if you don’t like the answer then don’t be afraid to say, “No, thank you. I’d rather not”.

If it’s too good to be true—it usually is. So, if you keep getting phone calls from sales people who’ve managed to find your phone number then feel free to put your number on the National Do Not Call List. It ensures telemarketers can’t contact you.

Protect your SIN.

Be ultra-careful with your Social Insurance Number (SIN). It’s an important key to your identity, especially in credit reports and computer databases.

Be suspicious.

Be wary when you get emails or phone calls from any financial institution, government agency or other organizations asking you for personal information.

Only provide sensitive personal information (including financial information like credit card numbers and bank account numbers) through secure means. If you’re filling out an online form, look for the padlock in the top left corner on the URL bar. And don’t ever send your information in an email.

If you suspect it’s the real company trying to contact you, call them back directly through a number you find on Google rather than one that was provided to you.

Choose difficult passwords.

Don’t use your partner’s name, your pet’s name or your phone number. Strengthen your password by using a combination of numbers, upper-case letters, lower-case letters and symbols like #, $, %, and !.

Educate yourself.

How would you know the importance of protecting your PII if you hadn’t read this article? Good work on making it this far.

One of the best ways to protect yourself and your personal information is through education, research and learning what to look out for.

At Coast Capital, we take protecting member information seriously. That’s why we implement adequate security measure to safeguard your information and we’re taking it to the next level in 2019 by implementing even more security measures. Remember: protecting personal information is a joint responsibility. The tips you just read will help you safeguard your information so if a fraudster ever knocks at your door, you know not to answer.

Check out Coast Capital’s security resources for more information.

 

 Charles Gao Stephen Pedersen, Director, Information Security

Stephen holds multiple information security designations, an electrical engineering degree,  and is completing his master’s degree in business administration at SFU.

He is responsible for Information Security including executive leadership, cyber risk management and security operations.