It's Back-to-School Time: Parents, Do You Know Where Your Child's School Records Are?


The PRC advises parents to pay close attention to documents and forms that students bring home from school. Among them is likely to be an opt-out form regarding the disclosure of students' education records. But if the parent does not sign the form instructing the school to NOT disclose the student's personal information to others, the school is free to release "directoy information." Directory information is NOT a small category. It can include the student's name, address, phone number, and date of birth, as well as major field of study, activities and sports, weight and height if on athletic teams, dates of attendance, and degrees and awards.

New Look for Prescreened Credit and Insurance Offers


tarting August 1, 2005, unsolicited offers for credit or insurance that are based on information in your credit report should be easier to spot.

New regulations adopted by the Federal Trade Commission now require notices to prominently display the toll free number (1-888-5OPTOUT or 1-888-567-8688) to opt-out. Now, this number, along with a statement that you can stop the unsolicited offers, must appear - in at least 12-point type - on the first page of the offer.

FTC Sues Imposter Web Sites Offering "Free Credit Reports"


The FTC this week announced a lawsuit and simultaneous settlement with Consumerinfo.com, a subsidiary of the credit bureau Experian, and freecreditreport.com, companies that advertise free credit reports. The FTC charged the companies with "deceptive and misleading" claims.

Consumerinfo.com and freecreditreport.com advertised "free credit reports," but failed to inform consumers that they were automatically signing up for credit report monitoring services and would be charged $79.95 if they did not cancel within 30 days.

Who Is Using Your Checkbook? FDIC Warns About Qchex.com


While many consumers are scrambling to reduce their risk of identity theft, one business appears to be making it easier than ever to forge checks. Qchex.com allows customers to create checks without verifying the account holder's identity, according to authorities.

Groups Warn of Privacy Risks in Employment Screening


The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and PrivacyActivism submitted comments to the US Attorney General expressing concern about commercial data vendors and private employers' use of federal criminal records files for employment purposes. The comments were submitted at the request of the US Attorney General who is seeking recommendations for a report being prepared for Congress. The report to Congress is required by a 2004 law for Intelligence Reform.

Call Don't Click Update: Still Be Smart about Ordering Federally Mandated Free Credit Reports


A new report issued today by the World Privacy Forum shows that many consumers may still be better off calling or mailing in for their federally mandated free credit reports instead of accessing the reports online. Although the official Annualcreditreport.com site has improved since its launch in December 2004, there are continuing hazards posed by imposter Web domains, some of which have been aggressively attempting to misdirect and in some cases deceive consumers.

FTC Disposal Rule: Does it Apply to You?


The goal of the Disposal Rule is to reduce identity theft and other fraud through greater protection of consumer information. The rule applies to consumer reporting agencies like credit bureaus, employment or tenant screening companies, as well as companies that compile information and sell reports on medical history, check writing history and insurance claims. Significantly, the Disposal Rule also applies to any business that uses such reports.

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