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Identity theft is real. And even if your doctor—or your mom—is the one requesting sensitive financial info, it’s smart to exercise caution with the things you text and email online. Here, five items you should never pass along digitally, no matter what.

RELATED: 5 Places Never to Use a Debit or Credit Card

woman on phone

Your Social Security Number

Think of it as the secret password to access everything about your life. That’s why you should be hyper-cautious about who you give it out to—and never, ever put it in a casual email or text. As a rule of thumb, the only times your SSN is actually required is when you’re filing taxes, starting a new job or applying for a driver’s license or government benefits. And even then, pen to paper (or giving it out verbally over the phone) is always a better plan.

woman at keyboard

A Copy of Your Driver's License

So, you’re starting a new job and your employer needs you to scan and send a handful of new employee forms back ASAP. Drop the paperwork off in person—or send it certified via FedEx—to reduce your security risk. (You’d be amazed how much hackers can do with your ID number and mailing address.)

RELATED: 7 ATM Mistakes You Might Be Making


...Or Passport

Same deal as the driver’s license. Skirting a few security questions—like the ones posed by institutions that keep your financial details on file—is a cinch for seasoned identity stealers with info like your full name and date of birth.

woman credit card

Your Credit Card Number

Sure, it’s tempting to text this info to your husband, but beware: Malware—like the kind found in that suspicious email attachment from an unknown sender you accidentally clicked on—is designed to infiltrate your inbox and capture your personal info. (Another major case for picking up the phone.)

woman on laptop

And Account Passwords

OK, this feels like a no-brainer, but do not (we repeat, do not) send important passwords—like the ones to your bank or even your Amazon Prime account—via email or text. If your phone goes missing or someone gains access to your email account, you’re vulnerable. It’s as simple as that.

RELATED: A Simple Trick for Remembering All of Your Passwords Forever

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