Tip 11 – Remember that you decide what information about yourself to reveal

Don’t give out personally-identifiable information too easily. Just as you might think twice about giving some clerk at the mall your home address and phone number, keep in mind that simply because a site asks for or demands personal information from you do not mean you have to give it. You do have to give accurate billing information if you are buying something, of course, but if you are registering with a free site that is a little too nosy for you, there is no law (in most places) against providing them with pseudonymous information. (However, it would probably be polite to use obviously fake addresses, such as “123 No Such Street, Nowhere, DC 01010”. If they are generating mailings based on this information – presumably in accordance with the terms of their privacy policy – they can probably weed such addresses out and not waste the postage on them. Definitely do NOT use someone else’s real address!) However, if you are required to agree to terms of service before using the free service, be sure those terms do not include a requirement that you provide correct information, unless the penalty is simply not being allowed to use the service any more, and you’re willing to pay that price if they figure out you are not providing them with your actual personally-identifiable information.

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