Did you know that your own personal data can get you in trouble? If you’re not yet aware of it, you should be. A person in possession of your personal data can open accounts in your name, dupe your relatives into giving them money, and worse, land you in jail. To be more paranoid, your browsing data can also be used to manipulate you, just like how a giant social media company allegedly sold millions of user data to win elections.

What is Personal Data?

Personal Data is data that refers to you as a person. Your name, your date of birth, and even your telephone number is your personal data. Your mother’s maiden name is also part of your data, since it is being used by companies to validate your identity when you call them. Imagine a stranger getting hold of these information, and opening credit card accounts in your name. I worked as a customer service agent for a credit card company and you can’t imagine the number of angry callers and people crying because their identity has been stolen.

Protect Your Data

How Your Own Data Can Get You In Trouble
Don’t let anybody create or manage your email for you.

I can’t emphasize enough the need to safeguard your private data. Data can also refer to passwords to social media sites, emails, and company logins. In one closed Facebook forum for immigrant nurses, they were talking about a nurse who landed in jail. The country the nurse went to requires documents verification. What the nurse did was that she handed over to her employment agency her personal data. The employment agency created an email account for her. They used the email to submit falsified documents for her so she’ll pass the experience requirement. The country regulators discovered the fraud and jailed the nurse.

Lessons Learned

It’s hard to imagine a more bitter lesson than going to jail. Imagine letting your new boyfriend log on to Facebook on your behalf, only to find out that he’s not the good sort and he posed as you? What if he went to use FB messenger and tried to dupe your family out of their hard earned money? It’s not just their money we’re talking about here, it’s also your self-esteem and your trust in your own judgement that you’ll question. In the end, protecting your data is protecting yourself, your loved ones, and your future.