An Introduction to Personally Identifiable Information

Personally Identifiable Information, known as PII for short, includes your customers’ highly valuable, extremely sensitive, and very important personal data. This could all include a customer’s name, address, driver’s license number, credit card number, and – above all else – social security number. If you are in business of any kind, you will routinely collect PII on a daily basis.

Because identity theft is the primary concern among most American consumers, it is crucial that you, as a business owner, retain this information privately, securely, and confidentially. If, however, this data somehow gets stolen, the thieves are likely to use it for identity theft or other kinds of illegal activities. If you are a merchant, you are required by both federal and state laws to protect your customers’ PII. Misplaced, lost, or known-stolen PII must be reported to the authorities immediately. Do you have a strategy for managing the Personally Identifiable Information that your business accrues?

The ramifications of a PII theft are indeed very severe. Fines – couple with additional penalties – are humiliating, costly, and often become gossip fodder in the consumer community. The public damage resulting from a PII loss could also cost you credibility, customer loyalty, and therefore, revenue. Additionally, keep in mind that some customers have executed class-action lawsuits against the companies responsible for protecting such data when PII had been exposed. The Epsilon data breach, for instance, displayed millions of people’s PII – from banks to big-name retail stores – to scammers trying to obtain personally identifiable information.

If you think that your customers’ PII may have been stolen, immediately contact your lawyer, who can help you to understand your lawful rights and obligations. Customer Data Watch is, in short, a PII protection and response service that can assist you in addressing the liabilities associated with handling PII. With the exception of only one state in the union, state laws – including laws in additional jurisdictions – mandate particular merchant procedures when PII in your possession are compromised.

If you determine that a breach has happened, or even suspect loss of data, Customer Data Watch can help you in informing the correct entities – government agencies, card brands, etc. – that data has been compromised.

Customer Data Watch services are implemented to assist you in reacting efficiently to a breach. When your customers’ valuable personal data is compromised, you can often end up befuddled about what to do to correct the issue. However, as a merchant, you need to prepare to act quickly to comply with related laws and industry standards, and to maintain your customers’ trust. Should you actually encounter a PII loss, Customer Data Watch can help you take action to respond.