California Court Ruling Strengthens Consumer Privacy

On Feb. 10, 2011, the California Supreme Court ruled that retail stores are not allowed to request and record a consumer's zip code as part of a credit card transaction. According to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and the Consumer Federation of California, that jointly filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court on this case, the ruling gives further protection to California consumers and helps prevent unlawful use of personal identification information (PII).

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.

A Cautionary Tale about Debit Cards and Fraud: A Former Debit Card User Tells Her Story

My first experience with "Debit Card Fraud" happened in August 1997. I get paid once a month, so I pay all my bills by the 5th of each month. This month, I had done that and paid out approximately $1,400, leaving me with about $400 for the rest of the month. Well, on August 6, 1997, I received approximately nine envelopes from Southwest Airlines, all addressed to me at my current address (I thought this was very weird because I had not had any type of contact or business with Southwest). I opened each envelope and found an itinerary for several individuals (unknown to me). These itineraries indicated these individuals "flew" all over the country (between 7-30-97 and 8-3-97) and I was billed for it. The total airlines tickets were $1,775; and, of course since my paycheck had just been deposited into my account, these itineraries were "paid."

Dump Your Debit Card! New Guide Explains Your Card Payment Options

The PRC advises that most consumers should not use or carry a debit or check card.  The guide explains the eight major shortcomings of these cards and suggests alternatives for consumers to consider.  Paul Stephens, PRC’s Director of Policy and Advocacy, elaborated, “Scammers have become quite sophisticated in gaining access to your card information.  Most people don’t realize that lost, stolen, or compromised debit cards can provide an open door for fraudsters to empty your bank account."

Will I Be Able to Return That Unwanted Holiday Gift? The Retail Equation (formerly The Return Exchange)

When a consumer wants to make a return, the retailer will swipe the person’s driver’s license (or other government-issued ID). As customers return merchandise, The Retail Equation compares variables such as return frequency, dollar amounts and/or time against a set of rules that form the retailer’s return policy. If you make repeated returns or exchanges to a specific merchant, you may not be able to do so again at a later date.

The Return Exchange: Q & A

The consumers who have contacted us have expressed a concern about having their drivers license swiped. Most indicate that they were not notified at the Point of Sale (POS) that their license or other form of goverment-issued ID would be required in order to make a return or exchange.

10 Tips for Safe and Private Holiday Shopping

As the holidays approach, consumers are more likely to be visiting crowded stores and malls.  Scam artists and fraudsters know this, so they are likely to be lurking there too.  Privacy Rights Clearinghouse is pleased to offer these helpful tips to protect yourself during this often hectic holiday season.

A Fingerprint to Rent a Car? An Ex-Customer Says "No" (Amato)

At Dollar Rent A Car ("Dollar Makes Sense.®") in Midway Airport, Chicago, I tried to rent a car but was refused only because I would not give the corporation my thumbprint. According to the "Frequently Asked Questions About Thumb Printing Procedures" sheet the representative pulled out when I started to ask why I had to provide a print of my anatomy to rent a car, I was told this procedure was to identify those who engage in fraudulent rentals and theft.

Why I stopped shopping at A reading expert sounds off... (Hochhauser)

I've shopped at for several years. But I decided to quit shopping there because of:

1) Their new privacy notice. The revised notice (not a "policy") states that they gather information about consumers every time they search for a product.  That means to me that they've developed a profile on me based not only on what I buy, but what I'm looking for. I don't want them to know that much about me....

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


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