July 2003:
PRC's Privacy Update Newsletter

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Copyright © 2003-2015
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
Posted July 31, 2003

In this issue . . .

[1] PRC Posts New and Updated Fact Sheets on Background Checks

[2] PRC Director Criticizes the Federal Trade Commission for Industry Bias at its Recent “Information Flows” Workshop

[3] “Phishing”—The Newest Technique Used by Identity Thieves to Capture Personal Information

[4] Financial Privacy Update
-- Californians Provide Enough Signatures to Qualify Initiative for March Ballot
-- U.S. District Court Ruling in San Francisco

[1] PRC Posts New and Updated Fact Sheets on Background Checks

The PRC added a new fact sheet to its already-extensive series--Fact Sheet 16(a) “Employment Background Checks in California: New Focus on Accuracy.” California consumers and employers who perform background checks should find this online resource useful in explaining how California law adds to the rights of job applicants and current employees under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

For instance, the FCRA does not cover background checks performed in-house by an employer whereas California law does. California law also requires notice and permission from you "at any time an investigative consumer report is sought for employment purposes” with an exception for suspicion of wrongdoing or misconduct. The guide also explains your right to get a copy of a background check, what parts you can get copies of and under what circumstances, and what to do if your report includes inaccurate or incomplete information.

“Employment Background Checks in California: New Focus on Accuracy”

In addition, the PRC’s Fact Sheet 16 “Employment Background Checks: A Jobseeker's Guide” has also been recently updated.

“Employment Background Checks: A Jobseeker's Guide”

Within the next few weeks the PRC’s newest Fact Sheet in its background check series, Fact Sheet 16(b) “Background Checks: A Guide for Small Business Owners” will be posted and released. Look for it on the PRC website or mentioned in our next newsletter. Fact Sheet 16(b) along with Fact Sheet 16(a), and the revised and updated Fact Sheet 16 were made possible with funding assistance from the Rose Foundation Consumer Privacy Rights Fund.

[2] PRC Director Lambastes the Federal Trade Commission for Industry Bias at its Recent “Information Flows” Workshop

PRC Director Beth Givens was a panelist for a recent Federal Trade Commission (FTC) workshop on the ‘costs and benefits of the collection and use of consumer information for customer relationship management (CRM) and targeted marketing.’ The title of her presentation was "What’s Missing from This Picture?"

The bigger question was what was missing from the workshop. Beth notes the “nearly 6:1 ratio of industry to consumer representatives” and the inability to question industry representatives about methodology and the accuracy of certain statements.

Beth’s speech and subsequent comments about the workshop are posted on the PRC website.

“What’s Missing from This Picture?”

[3] “Phishing”—The Newest Technique Used by Identity Thieves to Capture Personal Information

You’ve probably received one—an email that says your account with a large, reputable company will be terminated unless you update your credit card information. Maybe the email says it’s from your Internet provider. Or you may be offered credit card protection if you include your sensitive information on the online form. Many such emails spoof legitimate looking email; website addresses and corporate graphics give the illusion of a reputable source. Thus, unwitting recipients feel safe providing very personal information.

This scam now has a name. It’s called “phishing,” and it’s the latest ploy of identity thieves who want your persona linformation -- your name, address, Social Security number, and bank account and credit card numbers.

If you think you’ve received a phishing email . . .
-- Be skeptical whenever an email asks you to update personal information quickly. Reputable companies do not contact customers by email to update account information.

-- Check the website or call the legitimate company noted to confirm the origin of the email.

-- Report the email to the FTC by forwarding it to uce@ftc.gov and the FBI (see the Alert link below for instructions).

-- If you believe you responded to a scam email, see our Fact Sheet 17(a) “Identity Theft: What
to Do if It Happens to You” at http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs17a.htm.

The PRC has posted an alert about phishing emails on its website that includes a sample phishing email.

Scam Alert: Watch Out for "Phishing" Emails Attempting to Capture Your Personal Information

[4] Financial Privacy Update
-- Californians Provide Enough Signatures to Qualify Initiative for March Ballot

The PRC is a member of the Californians for Privacy Now coalition, which is spearheading a ballot initiative that, if passed, would give Californians the right to opt in (consent) before personal financial information can be shared with outside companies and among corporate affiliates. The coalition announced today that 550,000 California voters have signed on well above the 374,000 needed to qualify for the ballot. Those signatures will be submitted to the California Secretary of State on August 20, absent a last minute legislative solution.

To read the press release issued by the Californians for Privacy Now, go to:

-- U.S. District Court Ruling in San Francisco
Several counties in California passed measures to protect their residents’ financial information from being shared, without consumer consent, with third parties and affiliates. Large financial institutions challenged the measures in federal district court in San Francisco. The court recently upheld the right of consumers to opt in to third party sharing but struck down the portion of the local measures that required opting in for sharing among corporate affiliates.

To read the decision and other related information posted by San Mateo County go to:


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