IRS Information Returns: An Identity Thief's Dream?

At this time of the year, you can expect to receive in your mail at least some IRS information returns that will contain your full Social Security number.  Your Social Security number is the key to identity theft.  For this reason, an information return (like a W-2) can be an identity thief’s dream come true.  In fact, some information returns may contain not only your full Social Security number, but your bank or other financial institution account number(s)—the perfect combination for identity theft.  Read our suggestions on what you can do to protect yourself.

Resolve to Be a Privacy Advocate in 2010

We at the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse wish you a happy, prosperous and private new year.  This year, resolve to be a privacy advocate.  Use our 10 tips to minimize your risk of identity theft, protect your personal information and assert your rights to privacy. 

Our guide for 2010 will teach you how to be assertive in defending your privacy, find out how much of your personal information is stored in consumer reports and exercise caution while using online social networks.

Welcome to Our New Website!

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse is pleased to welcome you to our re-designed website.  Our new site incorporates user-oriented features that make it easier for visitors to quickly find and share information.  We’ve also updated our widely popular privacy compilations, including our Online Information Brokers List and our nationally-recognized Chronology of Data Breaches

Using the open source software Drupal, our new site allows PRC's privacy advocates to update the site more frequently - without compromising the privacy of our visitors.

Online Reputation Management - What Every Jobseeker Should Know

In today’s digital world, false or unflattering information attached to your name could haunt you for years.  For jobseekers competing in a tough economy, an unprofessional online presence could be a hindrance to landing a good job.  More employers are using the Internet to learn about job candidates, with a recent Microsoft survey showing that 70% of hiring managers have rejected a job applicant because of information posted online. 

Some jobseekers are turning to Online Reputation Management (ORM) firms to help them improve their digital personas.  Before you pay for an ORM service, be aware that ORM firms do not have the ability to remove unflattering information from the Internet any more than you do. If you are willing to invest the time, you can manage your own online reputation at little or no cost.

Disasters and Your Privacy

Nobody likes to think about the possibility of a natural disaster or a terrorist act.   But as victims of natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina can attest, it’s important to prepare for a disaster before it happens.  Certainly, your first concerns in an emergency should be your safety and basic needs such as shelter, food and water.  While there are many resources that can assist you with those concerns, this alert will focus on protecting your privacy and personal information during and after a disaster.

It’s important to realize that different types of disasters are likely to result in different consequences.  You may be asked to shelter in place, to evacuate to a facility in your own community, or possibly to relocate to a far-off location in another state.  Or you may choose to stay with a relative or friend.  Likewise, you may be able to return to your home after a short while, or there may be an extended period of absence.  In the worst case, your home and its contents may be completely destroyed.

Our Top 5 Privacy Tips for National Consumer Protection Week

March 6-12 is the 13th annual National Consumer Protection Week! To celebrate, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse is joining forces with government agencies and nonprofits to education consumers on important privacy issues. This year, we’re highlighting our top five privacy tips from our most popular fact sheets. Please join us! Participate in National Consumer Protection Week by sharing these tips with your friends and family. Together, we can empower consumers and protect privacy.

PRC Responds to FTC's Proposed Privacy Framework

On Feb. 18, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) submitted comments to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on its preliminary report, “Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: a Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policymakers.”  PRC commended FTC for recognizing the growing need for stronger consumer privacy protection both offline and online. However, PRC believes that self-regulation is ultimately not enough and that truly effective privacy protection is best accomplished through federal legislation. PRC’s comments focused on two major privacy issues: online behavioral advertising and data brokers.

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).

Criminals Disguised as Cupid for Valentine’s Day

Don’t Let More than Your Heart Get Stolen. In the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, many consumers are feeling hopeful, romantic, and generous – feelings online criminals prey on in order to scam you. Most online scams fool you into clicking on malicious (dangerous) links. This week, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse urges consumers to be especially cautious online.

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.

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