It’s Tax Day! Now, What to Do with All Those Records?


Today is Tax Day, the last day to file your federal income tax return with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You’ve spent the last several weeks collecting sensitive financial documents and now you’re probably wondering what to do with them. Financial documents may contain information, such as your Social Security number, that you should keep private in order to prevent identity theft. Therefore, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has compiled a guide on document retention and destruction tips to help protect your privacy.

Tax Season Tips to Protect Your Privacy


Tax season officially began on Jan. 1, which means you may soon be receiving "information returns" in your mailbox. Unfortunately, information returns are likely to contain your full Social Security number and other sensitive information.

Comments to FTC: Collection of a Deceased Person's Debt


On October 8, 2010, the FTC announced a policy regarding debt collectors’ communications with third parties regarding a decedent’s debt. In this, the FTC expands the numbers of individuals a collector may contact when the debtor is deceased. We urge the Commission to reconsider this policy or at a minimum to offer guidance for individuals who may be contacted by a collector about a deceased consumer’s debt. We further urge the Commission to reconsider its policy regarding no enforcement for deceased debtor contacts.

Check Out of Your Checking Account


Is your bank starting to charge you monthly fees for your formerly free checking account? Has a large, impersonal bank taken over the smaller bank that you were used to? Do you visit your local branch for service, and receive a sales pitch for products that you do not want? For these and other reasons, many consumers have become dissatisfied with their banking arrangements. If you are unhappy with your current bank, this alert will help you navigate the issues involved in switching your checking account to a new financial institution.

New Federal Law Protects Gift Card Users


Is the gift card that you received for your birthday last month burning a hole in your pocket? Do you still have an unused gift card from the holidays? Consumers often have had to worry about using gift cards before they lost their value. That will now begin to change for the better.

Until recently, many gift cards users had few legal rights to protect them from fees and expiration dates. Although some states had laws protecting gift card users, there was no federal law offering nationwide consumer protections. That has now changed with a new federal law (the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act) that provides important protections for gift cards sold on or after August 22, 2010.

Summer Vacation - A Privacy and Identity Theft Primer


When you travel, your risk of exposure to fraud and identity theft may increase. It’s a fact that people tend to let their guard down while on vacation.  Identity theft is often a crime of opportunity.  Don’t be a vacationer who presents a thief with that opportunity.  Your personal information, credit and debit cards, driver’s license, passport, and other personal information are the criminal’s target. By spending a few minutes planning before you travel, you can help reduce the risk that a thief will ruin your vacation.  You can also help avoid unnecessary problems with your financial institution. Here are some tips for an enjoyable vacation.

Want to Buy a $37 Soda?


Pay with a debit card and that refreshing soda on a hot day may give your wallet chills. Because of the way that most banks process debit card transactions, a $2.00 soda can generate $35 in bank fees. In this alert, we’ll highlight basic steps consumers should take to avoid the pernicious cycle of overdrafts and bank fees

Spring Cleaning Your Personal and Financial Records


Now that tax season is over, many people are wondering which personal and financial records they need to save for tax and other purposes. Some of us are packrats and like to save everything forever. Others can't wait to discard unwanted papers.

So what's the best way to decide whether to save or discard a record? Here are a few tips and information sources to help you decide what records you need to keep and for how long.

Interagency Proposal for Model Privacy Form under the Gramm-Leach Bliley Act


The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC)1 is pleased to comment on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC or Commission) notice of proposed rulemaking (NPR)2 to simplify the consumer disclosures required by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (“GLB”). With only a few minor suggestions, the PRC endorses and fully supports the model form adopted by the agencies. We direct our comments as follows:

The Case of the Disappearing Check: What is Electronic Check Conversion?


Electronic check conversion may be used when you make purchases in person at a store or when you mail a check to pay your credit card, utility or mortgage account payment. Either way, the growing use of electronic check conversion means you have to be more diligent than ever about tracking your payments and correcting errors in your account. When checks are processed electronically, your rights, remedies, and potential losses are governed by the federal Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) Act. This is the same law that governs your ATM and debit card transactions.

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