What Type of Data Is PII?
Personal Identifiable Information (PII) refers to any information that can be used to identify an individual. PII can be categorized into various types, each carrying its own level of sensitivity and potential risk if mishandled or exposed.
It is important to understand these different types of PII to ensure proper protection and compliance with privacy regulations.
1. Basic Identifiers
Basic identifiers are the most common types of PII and include information that directly identifies an individual. These typically include:
- Name: The full name of an individual, including first name, middle name, and last name.
- Date of Birth: The specific date on which a person was born.
- Address: The physical address where a person resides, including street name, house number, city, state, and ZIP code.
- Email Address: A unique email address associated with an individual’s digital identity.
- Phone Number: A contact number used to communicate with a person.
2. Financial Information
Financial information refers to data related to an individual’s financial affairs and includes:
- Credit Card Numbers: The unique numbers associated with a credit or debit card that allow for financial transactions.
- Bank Account Numbers: The unique identification numbers assigned to bank accounts.
- Social Security Number (SSN): A nine-digit number issued by the government for identification purposes in the United States.
- Tax Identification Numbers (TINs): Numbers assigned to individuals by tax authorities for tax-related purposes.
3. Medical and Health Information
Medical and health information is highly sensitive and includes:
- Medical History: Details about an individual’s medical conditions, treatments, and medications.
- Health Insurance Information: Information related to an individual’s health insurance policy, including policy number and coverage details.
- Genetic Information: Data related to an individual’s genetic makeup or inherited characteristics.
- Mental Health Records: Records of an individual’s mental health treatment or diagnosis.
4. Biometric Data
Biometric data refers to unique physical or behavioral characteristics of an individual, such as:
- Fingerprints: Unique patterns formed by the ridges on a person’s fingertips.
- Facial Recognition Data: Measurements or features extracted from facial images for identification purposes.
- Iris Scans: Scans that capture the unique patterns in an individual’s iris for authentication purposes.
- Voiceprints: Unique vocal characteristics used for voice recognition systems.
5. Online Identifiers
Online identifiers are digital information associated with an individual’s online presence, including:
- Usernames: Unique identifiers individuals use to log in to various online platforms.
- Email Addresses (Online): Email addresses associated with online accounts and services.
- Social Media Profiles: Profiles on social media platforms that provide information about an individual.
- IP Addresses: Unique numerical labels assigned to devices connected to a computer network.
Understanding the different types of PII is crucial for organizations and individuals alike. By recognizing what data falls under PII, appropriate measures can be taken to safeguard personal information and ensure compliance with privacy regulations.
Protecting PII is essential in maintaining privacy and preventing identity theft or other malicious activities.