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Let’s Normalize Privacy and Discretion

You don’t know me. But I know your name and I know where you live.

Scary, right? Recently, I saw a video about protecting your personal details like your birthday, phone number, and address when businesses won’t do that for you. Scams are becoming more common, and businesses don’t need to make a criminal’s job easier for them.

The Potential Harm of Sharing Details

Sharing personal details can be harmful. Here are some examples: a doctor’s office or pharmacy that calls out your full name to everyone in the waiting room. Or the receptionist who asks to confirm your details by getting you to say your birthday and address so the whole room can hear it.

Another example is the bank teller who confirms the large amount of cash you’re withdrawing by saying it loud enough so the people behind know how much cash you’re about to carry out the door.

A woman commented on the video that a staff member at a medical office said her full name out loud. After the appointment, a man she didn’t know called out her full name. He had been watching her earlier in the waiting room. He started to follow her out of the building.

Can We Protect Ourselves?

We can be proactive, but the business needs to work with us. People have written their personal information on a piece of paper, only to have the receptionist read out all the details to confirm the details with the patient.

Another method is to show a driver’s license. Some people have tried this, and said they got unhappy looks from the employee who seemed to think the method was a lazy way to avoid speaking (and for not sharing personal information with everyone in the room).

It’s not very discreet if you write down the amount you want to withdraw and the bank teller shouts out each one hundred dollar bill for everyone around you to hear. By the time you leave the bank, you will feel like a rob-me-I-have-cash target is marked on your back.

One suggestion is to check in with reception at the doctor’s office, the pharmacy, or whichever office you’re waiting at. They quietly take your name and then give you a number. When they call you, they call your number, not your full name. It’s not as personal or friendly, but it’s definitely more discreet. More offices should try this.

Key Takeaways

Businesses aren’t doing enough to protect our personal information. They like to confirm our identity by asking us to say our full name, address, or phone number in a room full of strangers. Our safety from scammers or creepy people is not safeguarded. We can use some techniques to protect ourselves, but the business needs to cooperate for those techniques to work.

What do you think about how businesses protect your privacy? What methods have you tried?

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