Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Frequently asked questions and factual information about the website.


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What is a truncated Social Security number (SSN)?

A truncated SSN is the last four digits of an SSN. It is considered sensitive Personally Identifiable Information (PII), both stand-alone and when associated with any other identifiable information. Secure methods must be employed if needing to electronically transmit a truncated SSN.

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Can sensitive PII be sent by facsimile?

Yes, sensitive PII can be sent by facsimile, but the recipient must be notified before and after transmission. Also, include an advisory statement on the cover sheet about the content of the document(s). EXCEPTION:  According to the Commerce Acquisition Manual 1313.301 entitled “Department of Commerce Purchase Card Program,” cardholders shall not transmit credit card information over a facsimile machine.

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How do I mail sensitive PII?

Sensitive PII must be sealed in an opaque envelope or container. It must be mailed using First Class or Priority Mail, or through a commercial delivery service.

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Questions and Comments

Send Questions, Comments or Complaints on the Commerce Privacy program to


Office of Privacy and Open Government
Office of the Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Administration
U.S. Department of Commerce

Page last updated: July 29, 2016