Many Unhappy Returns


It’s inevitable.  As the holidays draw to a close, many of us will have received a well-intended gift that we may not like.  Whether it’s a matter of the wrong size or color, a defective product, a duplicate gift, or just something that we just “don’t want”, it may become necessary to return the gift to a retailer.  Retailers have different policies (and states have different laws) concerning the ability to return unwanted merchandise.  But, one thing that troubles many privacy conscious consumers is when retailers require a driver’s license (or other government-issued ID) for returning or exchanging merchandise.  

Why do some retailers swipe your driver’s license?

Retailers say they do this to keep better track of possible return fraud. Typically, they will swipe your license in a reader that will query a database to look at your return history for patterns of fraud or abuse.  By scanning your license, the retailer can collect any information that is encoded on the license's magnetic stripe or bar code. In most states, this information includes the data printed on the face of your license, such as name, address, date of birth, and license number. 

Cool New Tech Devices: What Privacy Risks Are Wrapped Up Under Your Tree?


Are you asking for a “smart” appliance or thermostat, fitness tracking device, connected security camera system for your home, or even smart clothing this holiday season?  As the holiday season approaches, all the new cool technology gadgets that are “must haves” may have privacy risks you didn’t consider. 

The technology world has coined the connection of devices “The Internet of Things” or “IoT”   Most likely, when you think of "the Internet", you visualize going online by using a computer, tablet, or smartphone.  However, with technological advances, numerous other everyday devices can also access the Internet and transmit various types of data.  In fact, almost any item (even an article of clothing with a special tag) can be connected to the Internet. 

Data Brokers: Buying and Selling Your Personal Information


Perhaps you just purchased a new home.  Maybe you’re getting married or expecting a baby.  You bought a new car.  You subscribed to a magazine.  Or maybe you just ordered a pizza.  What do all of these activities have in common?  There’s a good chance that your personal information may have fallen into the hands of a data broker. 

While data brokers often remain invisible to consumers, they have the potential to significantly impact our lives.  It can be challenging, if not impossible, for consumers to escape the collection of personal data by data brokers. 

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse’s new guide Data Brokers and Your Privacy discusses the data broker industry and the “digital dossiers” that they assemble about individuals.  These dossiers often include a surprisingly broad range of information.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Comments in Support of CFPB’s Complaint Narrative Proposal


Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 
Comments in Support of CFPB’s Complaint Narrative Proposal

Docket Number: CFPB-2014-0016


https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/07/23/2014-17274/disclosure-of-consumer-complaint-narrative-data 


Submitted by the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse


Sept. 22, 2014

Director Richard Cordray 

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

1700 G Street N.W. 
Washington, D.C. 20552


Dear Director Cordray:

Introduction.  The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) is a nonprofit consumer education and advocacy organization, established 22 years ago in 1992 and located in San Diego, California.

The PRC takes complaints and questions from the general public on a variety of informational privacy issues. These include:  debt collection, financial privacy, online privacy, social media, medical records, employment topics, among others.

Data Breach Readiness and Follow-up: Being Prepared for the Inevitable


San Diego, California, July 23, 2014

Data Breach Readiness and Follow-up: Being Prepared for the Inevitable Presentation by Beth Givens, Executive Director, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse

 

Victim of a Data Breach? What Should You Do?


If you have been a victim of a data breach, you need to understand that there are differences between the types of breaches and the potential for both financial fraud and/or identity theft.

 

1. Understand what kind of breach occurred. You can read PRC’s Fact Sheet 17b: How to Deal with a Security Breach or take a look at our Chronology of Data Breaches for examples of the types of breaches. Depending on the breach specifics and the state in which you live, you may receive a breach notification letter that describes what happened. You might also find out about a breach through media reports.

Understanding Health and Medical Privacy


Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has recently updated and expanded our consumer guides on health privacy.  We are excited to release our updated HIPAA Health Privacy Fact Sheets.   Visit our Medical Privacy page to find additional resources on health-related privacy issues.  As always, please feel free to contact us with your privacy questions and complaints

The Power of Complaints: An Opportunity to Strengthen the Consumer’s Voice


Virtually every American adult uses at least one, and usually several, financial products. These include credit cards, pre-paid cards, bank accounts, credit reporting, mortgages, loans, and money transfers.

When problems occur, the consequences can be severe: for example, the inability to obtain credit; difficulty getting a mortgage; and being hounded by debt collectors for someone else’s debt.

In 2011, a new federal agency was launched, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), with an important mission – regulating financial products and services. The CFPB invites complaints via its website, which has been carefully designed for ease of use. It also engages in consumer financial education.

In the past three years, it has received more than 400,000 complaints. Complaints about specific financial products and services are forwarded to the appropriate companies for their response and, when warranted, resolution.

The CFPB has brought its complaint process into the sunlight by posting on its website the nature of those complaints and their status in the resolution process.  Anyone with Internet access can visit www.consumerfinance.gov to both submit their own complaints and view the bare bones details of many thousands more. 

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