Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
In this issue . . .
 What’s New on the PRC’s Web Site--Fact Sheets Galore!
--UPDATED: Fact Sheet 6 Now Notes Updates to the Fair Credit Reporting Act under FACTA
--UPDATED: Fact Sheets 16 and 16(b)-- Updated with FACTA Changes to Workplace Investigations and Free Background Check Reports
--NEW! Fact Sheet 6(a): FACTA, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act: Consumers Win Some, Lose Some
--NEW! Fact Sheet 24(e): Is Your Financial Information Safe?
The PRC filed a lawsuit charging supermarket giant Albertsons and its pharmacy units, SavOn, Osco, and Jewel-Osco, with violating the privacy rights of thousands of customers by illegally misusing confidential prescription information for drug company marketing campaigns.
In essence, Albertsons and its affiliates reaped huge profits by allowing drug companies to draft solicitations that Albertsons then mailed to its pharmacy customers who use specific drugs noted in its specially-designed prescription marketing database. The solicitations, appearing as if from the patient’s local pharmacist, remind the customer to renew a prescription or consider an alternative medication. At times, pharmacy customers received telemarketing calls with the same objective. The phone calls were intended to more urgently communicate the same message.
The PRC believes the trust customers gave their pharmacies to maintain the confidentiality of their medical conditions was breached. The complaint alleges that because pharmacy customers never gave written authorization to have their information used for marketing purposes, the Albertsons marketing campaign violated the laws of California and other states that require consent.
If you received a marketing solicitation about your prescription from an Albertsons’ pharmacies, or another pharmacy, we want to hear from you. Please read our alert on this topic for more information about the case and what you can do about this practice at:
Our staff has been busy updating our online resources and writing brand new fact sheets reflecting recent changes to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA). Many changes will be effective beginning in December 2004.
UPDATED: For instance, the PRC’s Fact Sheet 6 on credit reports has been updated to reflect upcoming changes to credit reporting including the roll-out for free credit reports and how updates to credit reporting laws will help victims of identity theft.
The newly revamped Fact Sheet 6: How Private is My Credit Report? is available on our web site at:
UPDATED: Our fact sheet 16 on background checks has been updated to include new FACTA provisions about workplace investigations as well as the right to request a free copy of an employment background check.
Fact Sheet 16: Employment Background Checks: A Jobseeker’s Guide is available online at:
UPDATED: And fact sheet 16(b) for small business owners who conduct background checks now includes information on FACTA changes about workplace investigations.
Fact Sheet 16(b): Small Business Owner’s Background Check Guide,
NEW: And, because updates to the FCRA affect consumers in many different areas, we’ve created a brand new fact sheet that outlines all of those changes, for better or worse. Some of the good points include:
--Truncating credit card numbers on transaction receipts will become a national standard, though in some instances this won't come into effect until 2007.
--The requirement that you be sent an “early warning” notice when a financial institution reports negative information to a credit reporting bureau that could affect your credit score.
--Free annual credit reports and “nationwide specialty consumer reports” such as your Medical Information Bureau (MIB) report, residential or tenant history, check writing history, employment history, and insurance claims.
If you want to learn more about upcoming changes due to FACTA and how they will affect you, read our new Fact Sheet 6(a): FACTA, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act: Consumers Win Some, Lose Some at:
NEW: We’ve added another Fact Sheet to our financial privacy series. In this new guide, we tell you how financial companies must safeguard your personal information and the types of companies that must follow nationwide data security procedures. The fact sheet also contains a section on ‘pretexting’ and tips on what you can do to protect your financial information.
Fact sheet 24(e): Is Your Financial Information Safe? is available on the PRC web site at:
You may have noticed that more retailers and merchants are requiring a state issued ID or license when you return or exchange merchandise. Retailers tell us they do this to keep better track of possible return fraud. But what you may not know is that several major national retailers such as The Limited, Express, Victoria’s Secret, KayBee Toys, The Sports Authority and others are now outsourcing the collection of return and exchange data to a California-based company called The Return Exchange (http://www.returnexchange.com ).
In fact, if you make repeated returns or exchanges to a specific store, you may not be able to do so again at a later date. However, neither The Return Exchange nor its member stores will say what criterion they use to make this determination. The Return Exchange has told us that a member merchant does not now refuse a return based on your returns to other merchants, but that they are considering this possibility for the future.
The PRC is concerned about this practice and the possibility that consumers may be denied the ability to make a legitimate return. If you make returns at major national chains, we’d suggest you contact Return Exchange to see if they have a file on you. Their toll free number for requesting your file is 800-652-2331. If the Return Exchange has a file on you or if you have been denied the ability to make a return or exchange based on the information the company has about you, we’d like to hear from you. Please feel free to contact us through our inquiry form [Jan. 2007: The PRC's online inquiry form  is now inactive].
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