Gathering Personal Information Discreetly

Gathering personal information discreetly is a tricky task. People are naturally guarded and it’s hard to get them to open up.


Information is considered personal when it directly relates to a specific individual (or their substitute decision-maker25). Examples include an intake interview between a child welfare worker and a youth or a teacher phoned by a children’s aid society.

1. Don’t Give Out Your Personal Information

In a perfect world, it would be best to only share personal information with people when necessary and at the right time. Even then, it is usually better to “inoculate” the person you are sharing with by slowly introducing the information over time. If you are asked to divulge personal information that is not absolutely necessary, it may be possible to deflect the request by changing the subject or asking for something else.

It is also always best to not give out any personal information over the phone or online unless you know the company you are dealing with. Otherwise, your information could be passed around the Internet to many different people until hackers or criminals pick it up. Avoid giving out your real name, age, gender or address if you can.

2. Don’t Give Out Your Social Security Number

Your Social Security number is something that you should never give out unless it is absolutely necessary. It is one of the most valuable pieces of information to fraudsters because it can be used to open credit cards, file false tax refunds and more.

Companies and government agencies will rarely ask for your Social Security number and if they do, you should be extremely suspicious. It is also a good idea to memorize your Social Security number and store your card in a safe place, such as your home.

However, there are a few instances in which it is appropriate to give out your Social Security number, including when you start a new job and when you apply for a loan or credit card. If you are unsure of the person who is asking for your number or have any doubts, it is always best to decline and contact the company directly. Also, be sure to shred any documents that contain personal information before throwing them away. This will prevent identity thieves from stealing your information from your trash.

3. Don’t Give Out Your Address

When people ask for your home address, it is best to decline if you aren’t comfortable sharing that information. Your address can be used in a number of different ways, including identity theft and change-of-address scams. It can also be used to commit school fraud, in which parents misrepresent their home addresses in order to get children into schools that offer reduced or free tuition.

If someone is insistent on getting your address, try to give them an alternative such as a post office box or even just the name of a street in your neighborhood. If they seem to accept your reasoning, explain that you would rather not have a lot of junk mail coming to your house. If they still refuse to accept your explanation, you can always tell them that your family members will be receiving it.

4. Don’t Give Out Your Phone Number

If you’re gathering information discreetly about someone, it is best to avoid revealing personal contact information like their phone number. Not only can this lead to nuisance calls or texts, but it could also put your safety at risk.

In the wrong hands, your phone number can be used for a variety of malicious purposes, including stalking, harassment, and identity theft. This is because your phone number is often linked to other personal information, such as your name and address, which can be used to steal your credit card or bank account details.

This is why it’s a good idea to always decline requests for your phone number from people you don’t know, even if they seem trustworthy. However, if you need to give out your phone number for work-related reasons, it is best to use an app like Burner, which can cloak your personal digits so you don’t get targeted by telemarketers or scammers. This is especially important when working with large organizations or businesses that may be looking to gather information about you without your consent.