Our Top 5 Privacy Tips for National Consumer Protection Week

Celebrate National Consumer Protection Week

Share Our Top 5 Privacy Tips

To celebrate the 13th annual National Consumer Protection Week, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse is joining forces with government agencies and nonprofits to education consumers on important privacy issues. This year, we’re highlighting our top five privacy tips from our most popular fact sheets.

  1. Request a copy of your background check. If you are applying for a job, potential employers must obtain your written permission before performing a background check. Under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, companies must tell you if they didn’t hire you because of the background check and give you information on how to request a copy of the report. Learn more: Fact Sheet 16: Employment Background Checks: A Jobseeker's Guide.

  2. Request debt collectors contact you in writing. The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act gives you rights when debt collectors call. We’ve heard of debt collectors contacting family members, neighbors, and employers, as well as threatening jail time. A collector should not discuss your account with third parties or use the phone to harass you. Learn more: Fact Sheet 27: Debt Collection Practices: When Hardball Tactics Go Too Far.

  3. Request a copy of your medical records.  The federal rule HIPAA gives you the right to access your medical records. Health care providers must give you a copy of their privacy notice. This includes doctors, pharmacies, dentists, and other healthcare professionals. It’s important to request copies of your medical records because you never know when your doctor or dentist might retire or close up shop. And it's prudent to watch for signs of medical identity theft. Learn more: Fact Sheet 8a: HIPAA Basics: Medical Privacy in the Electronic Age.

  4. Monitor your credit report. Federal law gives you the right to one free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus on an annual basis. Requesting your free credit reports on a regular basis can help you spot problems early, such as identity theft or erroneous debts. Don’t fall prey to the confusing ads for free credit reports that you see on TV. The official site for your free yearly credit report is www.annualcreditreport.com.  Learn more: Fact Sheet 6: How Private is My Credit Report?.

  5. Don’t share sensitive information on social networking sites. People store massive amounts of personal information on such sites, including birth dates, place of birth, phone numbers, vacation plans and more. Not only is this information a gold mine for marketers and unscrupulous individuals, but it may also be used against you by current and future employers. Learn more: Fact Sheet 35: Social Networking Privacy: How to be Safe, Secure and Social.

For more privacy protection tips, read Fact Sheet 1a: Privacy Basics and Opt-Out Strategies

Please join us! Participate in National Consumer Protection Week by sharing these tips with your friends and family. Together, we can empower consumers and protect privacy.

National Consumer Protection Week runs March 6-12, 2011. Visit www.ncpw.gov to learn more.