Privacy Policies: What You Should Know

If you are like most people, you don’t really want to read privacy policies.  They aren’t typically easy to understand.   Nor are they often descriptive enough for you to actually grasp what a company is doing with your information. Even so, we believe they can be valuable tools to help you protect your personal information.  You might discover privacy settings and choices you were unaware of.   You will also find that some companies take your privacy more seriously than others, which may help you choose who to do business with.

If you want to learn more about how to read a full privacy policy and what information they should contain, see the California Attorney General’s helpful guide

If you aren’t going to read a policy in full before you decide to give a website or app your information, we have 3 tips to help you find important information and make decisions quickly!

1.  Look for a privacy policy before you give a site or app any information that you think is important.   This seems obvious, but we still come across sites and apps that don’t have privacy policies.  As a matter of best practice (and often law), websites and apps that collect personal information from you should have a privacy policy.  You can typically find a privacy policy on the bottom of a web page or within your app store prior to download.  If you can’t find a privacy policy, consider it a red flag.  Also contact us and let us know.

2.  Check to see what security measures a company uses to protect your information.
The privacy policy should give you a sense of what the company does to maintain the security of your information.  It may not go into great detail, and it probably won’t promise 100% security (because there is no such thing).  However, if there is no mention of security, consider taking your business elsewhere because it is possible that the company hasn’t even thought about it. 

3.  Find out whether you have any privacy choices.
Now that you know a company has at least thought about privacy and security, scroll through the policy to see if there are any opt-outs or privacy settings you can take advantage of. For example, does the company allow you to opt out of having your information shared with third parties for marketing purposes?  Are you able to access and correct or delete information that the company maintains on you?

If you have questions about any settings or options, look for the contact number or email address listed in the policy to address privacy questions.