Editor’s note: This privacy self-assessment is included in the Michael Hyatt’s new book, “Invasion of Privacy: How to Protect Yourself in the Digital Age.” Read today’s final installment of a three-part serialization of Hyatt’s work.

The following self-assessment is designed to help you determine your current level of privacy. It’s not a scientific instrument, but it will give you a good sense of where you are now. You may want to take the assessment now and then try again in a few months – after you have read the book and implemented some of my recommendations.

Please check the first box that comes to mind. This is likely to give you the most accurate picture of your situation. If you don’t know the answer to a question, check “Yes.” We are not looking for absolute answers, just general trends. At the end of the assessment, there is a way to score yourself.

Personal information

1. When asked for my address, I usually give my residential address.

_ Yes _ No

2. When asked for my phone number, I usually give my residential number.

_ Yes _ No

3. When asked for my Social Security number, I usually provide it.

_ Yes _ No

4. When asked for my e-mail address, I offer the only one I have.

_ Yes _ No

5. I throw sensitive information in the trash, including bank statements, credit card statements, and so on.

_ Yes _ No

Physical address

6. I receive mail at my home.

_ Yes _ No

7. I receive other deliveries at my home.

_ Yes _ No

8. My utilities are listed in my own name.

_ Yes _ No

9. My home is titled in my own name.

_ Yes _ No

10. I have a mortgage in my own name.

_ Yes _ No

Phone use

11. I don’t have caller ID.

_ Yes _ No

12. I don’t have “per line caller ID blocking.” (This keeps your phone number from being revealed to those you call.)

_ Yes _ No

13. I occasionally give out my credit card numbers over a cordless phone.

_ Yes _ No

14. I own and use a cordless phone.

_ Yes _ No

15. My phone is listed in my own name.

_ Yes _ No

Computer and Internet use

16. I have only one e-mail address.

_ Yes _ No

17. My browser is set to accept cookies.

_ Yes _ No

18. I have not cleared the history on my browser in the past 30 days.

_ Yes _ No

19. I do not use a cable lock or other device to protect my computer from theft.

_ Yes _ No

20. I do not use a screensaver password.

_ Yes _ No

21. I use the same password for most applications.

_ Yes _ No

22. My password is a common word that can be found in the dictionary.

_ Yes _ No

23. I do not use an antivirus program.

_ Yes _ No

24. I do not regularly update my virus definitions.

_ Yes _ No

25. I occasionally include account numbers or other sensitive information in my e-mails.

_ Yes _ No

26. I do not use a personal firewall with my Internet connection.

_ Yes _ No

27. I assume that when I delete files from my computer they are gone.

_ Yes _ No

Personal finances

28. My bank accounts are in my own name.

_ Yes _ No

29. My credit cards are in my own name.

_ Yes _ No

30. I rarely use cash in my financial transactions.

_ Yes _ No

31. One company provides most of my financial services.

_ Yes _ No

32. I make regular use of retail discount cards.

_ Yes _ No

33. I have never considered offshore banking.

_ Yes _ No

34. I have not requested a copy of my credit report in the past year.

_ Yes _ No

Miscellaneous

35. I have never requested my medical records from the Medical Information Bureau (MIB).

_ Yes _ No

36. I generally sign any medical paperwork that is put in front of me without protest.

_ Yes _ No

37. I always carry my Social Security card in my wallet or purse.

_ Yes _ No

38. My driver’s license has my Social Security number printed on it.

_ Yes _ No

39. I generally use my driver’s license for identification purposes.

_ Yes _ No

40. I have been cited for a moving traffic violation in the past year.

_ Yes _ No

Scoring yourself

This is a simple assessment. I make no pretense that it is scientific. Simply count the number of questions to which you answered “Yes.” This is your point total.

If you scored 1-10, you are a ghost. You are essentially invisible to everyone except your family and closest friends. You obviously have a good grasp of privacy issues and have taken significant steps to reduce your risk.

11-20 – Reasonably private. You understand some of the issues related to privacy and have demonstrated your willingness to do something about it. You have made it difficult for all but the truly committed to find you. With a little extra effort you can move to the next level.

21-30 – Unnecessarily exposed. You have some privacy, but you are not as careful as you should be. You need to take steps now to shore up your privacy while you still can.

31-40 – Completely exposed. It’s only a matter of time before your lack of privacy catches up with you. You are the ideal target for exploitation.



Read Part 1: Why personal secrets are no more

Read Part 2: Who’s tracking you?

Read Part 3: Is technology the problem?

Purchase Hyatt’s book, “Invasion of Privacy: How to Protect Yourself in the Digital Age.”

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