Which Personal Information Must Never Be Shared?

Long-time lax attitudes towards sharing information online have made finding out everything from someone’s full name to how much fun they had during last night’s ballgame disconcertingly easy. It’s impossible to be completely anonymous online if you hope to apply for jobs or snatch up bargains. Even so, there are things you shouldn’t share online, period. 

In this article, we cover the obvious and some not-so-obvious bits of information you’d best keep to yourself. You’ll surely find at least one you haven’t considered before!

Social Security Number

Your SSN is the most impactful and potentially harmful piece of information someone can obtain. Even a partial number is enough to risk identity theft, while a full one can wreak havoc in various ways.

Fraudsters can use your SSN to apply for new credit cards or as a verification method to access and empty existing bank accounts. They may dip into your benefits, create fake driver’s licenses and tax returns, or even receive medical care while you end up footing the bill.

Financial Information

Paying bills, signing up for services, or shopping online have become the norm. Consequently, financial institutions and online retailers are going to great lengths to secure your transactions. It is safe to provide your credit card details when making payments to reputable companies, but be sure to check the site is encrypted (starts with HTTPS) just in case.

Even so, you shouldn’t give out information like your credit card number, especially the Card Verification Code (CVC) on the back. Financial info also extends to disclosing your salary and bragging about expensive purchases you made recently. Flaunting it might feel good now, but such posts also attract unwanted attention from hackers and real-world burglars alike.


You’d think most people are wise enough not to disclose the means to access their accounts. However, the shift towards subscription-based services makes sharing some passwords seem worth it. That Netflix password you gave to a friend doesn’t look like a big deal. However, it can have serious consequences if they pass it along and you happen to use the same credentials for other, more important accounts.

Not only should you never share passwords, but you should ensure existing ones are sophisticated, unique, and protected. Best password managers tackle all these challenges. They can generate login credentials for unlimited accounts and keep them safe in an encrypted vault. Some also offer two-factor authentication that protects accounts whose logins might have leaked in a data breach from unauthorized entry.

And don’t worry about compatibility with your device. You can get a password manager for iOS, Android, and all the other popular operating systems. 

Work-Related Information

Jobs are core parts of our identities, so it’s natural to want to share related accomplishments. It would be best to refrain from posting work-related info or run what you intend to post by the higher-ups first.

News about being promoted to another department or starting a new project is harmless most of the time. It might also accidentally reveal information the company wasn’t ready to disclose yet or clue competitors in on business strategies that were supposed to remain secret.

Health Data

Health and well-being are universal concerns, and the internet makes it easier to find information or join support groups. While seeking help and healing through any available sources is natural, you should always do so anonymously.

No one other than your GP and family has any business knowing sensitive details about your health. Linking your condition(s) to your real identity can lead to discrimination, stigmatization, and even identity theft, not to mention the additional psychological stress all of this causes.

Your Real-Time Location and Vacation Plans

Social media encourages us to live in the moment, to be seen and appreciated. While it’s fine to let close friends know about a great night out after the fact, broadcasting your plans before heading out is a bad idea. According to the Bureau of Justice, more than 60% of victims know their burglars! Setting your social media accounts to private won’t help if you’re friends with these people, so it’s best not to say anything until you’re home again.

The same goes for vacation plans. Don’t broadcast them on your socials. Rather, inform a few close friends, family members, or neighbors whom you can trust to keep an eye on the property and leave it at that.

Pictures of Children / Under-Age Family Members

It’s natural to want to immortalize and share precious moments with your kids and siblings, but you should never do so publicly.

On the one hand, the child has a right to privacy, which you may be disrespecting by posting the picture without consent. Such photos might become a source of embarrassment or cause for cyberbullying.

Sadly, you’ll want to consider more sinister threats. It’s easy to infer the child’s age, school, interests, and other details from context. Most people will either respond warmly or won’t care. However, some might use what they learn to earn the child’s trust and engage in predatory behavior.

Polarizing Opinions

Everyone might have a right to their opinions, but that doesn’t mean voicing them under your real name is smart. Ideally, you’ll keep such opinions to yourself since not doing so risks condemnation and estrangement and may even jeopardize your career. If you do feel you need to voice your disagreement, do so tactfully.


As the lines between our digital and physical lines continue to blur, it’s becoming increasingly harder to determine what about your place in the former to disclose to the latter. Remember – what you post online usually stays there. If you’re not comfortable with something about you being findable, don’t put it out there in the first place. When in doubt, you can always come back here and double-check.

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