PII Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use It

Knowing PII’s meaning will help you to understand more about your identity and privacy. Read on to learn everything about PII!

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Even though there are billions of people worldwide, each of them is unique. No two people have precisely the same story. They are all fundamentally different in many ways, and that’s part of the reason why humanity is so fascinating. 

While many aspects of our personal information are similar to others’ — including gender, date of birth, and last name — each person’s combination of information will always end up being unique. Because of that, each individual’s identity can be identified through a wide range of different kinds of personal data. 

That is the foundation of PII. It’s how specific individuals can identify in unique ways when operating in the world. It’s critical information that can help people maintain their own security and anonymity online. It applies in countless areas of people’s professional and daily lives. Knowing how to deal with it efficiently and effectively can help you live a safe and prosperous life. 

This is what PII is, why it’s essential, and how to maintain your personal security! 

What Is PII? 

The definition of PII is Personally Identifiable Information. This is a list of identifiers and personal data used to identify individuals. It is a specific type of data that can effectively identify individuals in combination with other information. 

PII is a large information umbrella that contains many different types of information, including but not limited to: 

  • Social Security Number
  • Place of birth
  • Biometric records
  • Full name
  • Driver’s license numbers
  • Employment information
  • Passport number
  • Financial information
  • Credit card numbers
  • Location data
  • Fingerprints
  • Home address
  • Zipcode

All of these pieces of information fall under the category of PII. Some of these pieces of information are incredibly important to keep us as safe and private as possible, while others are pretty public knowledge. Knowing how to properly use and share this sensitive data is one of the most essential parts of living in the modern world. 

Fundamentally speaking, a lot of PII is accessible by various organizations. The government likely has access to most of this information, as do your bank and employers. However, carefully regulating who does and doesn’t have access to information can help you to stay protected against identity theft. 

Why Is PII So Important? 

PII is massively important for a large number of reasons. 

First of all, it is used to confirm your identity online and in person. Often, people’s private information is used as a lock on their bank accounts, online logins, and internet accounts. That’s why many websites ask for information like your mother’s maiden name, first school, and pet’s name. These kinds of non-available information allow you to keep a good level of privacy and security online. 

PII also enables people to function correctly within the modern world. Virtually all employees and contractors need to share necessary pieces of PII to get hired at a company for financial security reasons. Each person has a personal identification number with almost every organization they deal with, which helps them stay organized as a data subject. 

PII is also something that can help you to retain your unique identity on social media. While there are definitely many things that shouldn’t be shared on social media, there are other things that can be publicly displayed without creating a data breach for you. For example, your full name is fair game for your profile, but your SSN should be kept confidential.

What Is Sensitive Information? 

In the world of PII, there are two kinds of information. The first is sensitive information — the kinds of data you should do everything in your power to keep private. There are various legal bills and laws in place to protect your privacy in these contexts, including HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act), and the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology). 

Sensitive PII includes things like your social security number, mailing address, financial information, and other pieces of information that should be kept confidential for your protection. This single category of knowledge can save your life secure or cause a lot of havoc depending on how it is shared and used. Always be incredibly careful with how you share this information, and only give it to organizations and people you have good reason to trust. 

What Is Non-Sensitive Information? 

Non-sensitive PII is information that is still not necessarily something you should always share, but there’s little harm done if it gets out. This includes your first name, date of birth, gender, and religion. Almost all this information can be accessed online with not too much effort.

In most cases, this information can’t be used to negatively impact your life. Allowing other people to know it is generally much safer and less likely to cause you trouble. 

That being said, it’s almost always safer to maintain privacy in as much of your PII as possible. It’s always better to err on the side of safety and security, especially when it comes to your own precious information! If someone ever asks you for this kind of information online or in person, always be wary about how you answer them. 


If PII is just one of many of the acronyms that you don’t know the meaning of, then maybe it’s time to take a look around our blog here at The Word Counter! We’re well aware that there are tons of confusing intricacies in the English language. That’s why we’re constantly trying to ensure that there is a resource that people can go to when they’re confused about a phrase or word.

We’re regularly posting new articles and pieces of information that are intended to make the English Language as approachable and understandable as possible. 

Even just taking a few minutes to browse our articles can save you tons of time and energy when communicating in the modern world! Check out some of our articles today! 


  1. Personally identifiable information (PII) | Investopedia
  2. What is PII (Personally Identifiable Information)?| SearchSecurity
  3. Guidance on the Protection of Personal Identifiable Information | US Department of Labor