Calling All Direct Marketers to Heed the "Fair Information Practices"

In our nearly five years of experience in operating the hotline for California consumers, no other topic has garnered the response that unwanted mail does -- not even media reports on medical records or workplace privacy, where the consequences of privacy abuse are likely to be far more serious. In 1994, unwanted mail was the number one topic of complaint on the hotline, accounting for nearly one-third of calls.

What's going on here?

Our analysis of the "junk mail phenomenom" focuses on control. Every day, consumers are reminded that they have virtually no control over what enters their mail box.

Suing a Telemarketer: How I Spent My Summer Vacation

I am a federal government retiree who does occasional substitute teaching just for fun.  Basically, I don’t work during the summer.  Also, I hate telemarketers and feel that companies who buy and sell individuals’ personal information in order to solicit are despicable. So, what did I do on my summer vacation?  I sued a telemarketer!

New Look for Prescreened Credit and Insurance Offers

tarting August 1, 2005, unsolicited offers for credit or insurance that are based on information in your credit report should be easier to spot.

New regulations adopted by the Federal Trade Commission now require notices to prominently display the toll free number (1-888-5OPTOUT or 1-888-567-8688) to opt-out. Now, this number, along with a statement that you can stop the unsolicited offers, must appear - in at least 12-point type - on the first page of the offer.

Junk Faxes: They Are Now OK with a "Business" Relationship

Until recently, the law on fax advertising was simple and straightforward: No one could send a fax advertisement without your prior consent. Of course, this did not stop the deluge of unwanted faxes touting hot stocks, mortgage offers, and vacation deals. Now, adding to the frustration, Congress has created an exception for fax advertisements sent when you have an “established business relationship,” or EBR, with the sender.

Privacy Rights and the Marketing of Confidential Medical Information: Questions and Answers on the Case of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) v. Albertsons

Albertsons collects its customers’ confidential medical information by surreptitiously reviewing customer prescriptions - required to be kept confidential and used only as authorized by the patient - and creates a retrievable database including customer addresses, phone numbers and drug regimen. The information is made available for use to satisfy pharmaceutical companies willing to pay Albertsons to fulfill drug marketing objectives. The result is unsolicited mailings and/or phone calls directed at consumers attempting to convince them to buy more or different medications.

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse Files Lawsuit Charging Albertsons Violates Privacy of Pharmacy Customers

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC), a San Diego-based nonprofit consumer information and advocacy organization, today announced that it has filed a lawsuit in California Superior Court charging supermarket giant Albertsons and its pharmacy units, SavOn, Osco, and Jewel-Osco, with violating the privacy rights of thousands of its customers by illegally using their confidential prescription information to conduct targeted marketing campaigns on behalf of drug companies.

Have You Received Unsolicited Marketing Letters or Phone Calls Regarding Your Personal Prescriptions? Tell us!

Some patients who get their prescriptions filled through supermarket pharmacies and chain drug stores such as Albertson's, Walgreens, RiteAid, SavOn and CVS may be surprised to get a solicitation in the mail that looks like a friendly reminder to refill their prescription.

If you've received a solicitation in the mail or a phone call from your pharmacy or a marketer working on behalf of the pharmacy suggesting that you switch to another brand of drug or that you talk to your doctor about a refill, please let us know.

Pharmacies Profiting At Your Expense: Your Help Is Requested

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) has been in the forefront in asserting that pharmacies -- and their marketing partners, the big pharmaceutical companies -- act improperly when using the medical information in customer prescriptions to mail letters or call customers in order to sell more drugs.

If this happened to you or someone in your family, please let us know.  It could be very helpful to the outcome of the lawsuit.

California's "Shine the Light" Law Goes into Effect Jan. 1, 2005

When you’ve received junk mail, have you ever wondered which company provided your name and address to the marketer? Now you can find out. The “Shine the Light” law requires certain businesses to disclose their information-sharing practices with their customers. Upon request, companies must tell you with whom they have shared your personal information for marketing purposes within the last twelve months.

Request Disclosure of Information Sharing Under California's Shine the Light Act

On January 1, 2005, California's Shine the Light Act came into effect. For more information about the Act, see the PRC's press release at www.privacyrights.org/ar/SB27Release.htm. In essence, certain businesses must provide California residents with a way to find out what personal information has been shared and with whom within the twelve months prior to receiving your request for disclosure.

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