Spring Cleaning Your Personal and Financial Records

Now that tax season is over, many people are wondering which personal and financial records they need to save for tax and other purposes. Some of us are packrats and like to save everything forever. Others can't wait to discard unwanted papers.

So what's the best way to decide whether to save or discard a record? Here are a few tips and information sources to help you decide what records you need to keep and for how long.

Specialty Reports: What Have They Got on Me?

Most consumers know of their right to free annual credit reports from the three national credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax). But did you know that the same federal law that lets you see your credit reports entitles you to much more?he Fair Credit Reporting Act gives you the right to free copies of numerous so-called specialty consumer reports. These specialty reports provide information on such matters as your medical conditions, insurance claims, check writing history, rental history, and employment history.

Protecting Your Social Security Number at Tax Time

Identity thieves want your Social Security number (SSN) so they can assume your identity and commit fraud. Around tax time, protecting your SSN takes on even greater importance. The Information Returns that you receive (Forms W-2 and 1099) as well as your IRS income tax return (Form 1040) will all contain your SSN. Each of these forms, if not handled properly, presents an opportunity for your SSN to be used fraudulently.

Online Personal Health Records: Are They Healthy for Your Privacy?

A personal health record (PHR) is a tool for collecting, tracking, and sharing information about your health.  Because medical records are among the most sensitive type of personal information, we at the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse have some concerns about PHRs. PHRs may not necessarily be private and may not be secure, despite what the hosting site tells you.

Google Posts a Link to Its Privacy Policy from Its Home Page

On July 3, 2008, Google made an important change to its home page. It added a new link from the home page to its privacy center.  With just one seven-letter word, Google resolves the controversy over whether its previous practice ran afoul of California privacy law.

Valentine e-Cards May Deliver More Than Just Love!

With Valentine's Day upon us, you may be receiving so-called "e-cards" in your email inbox. Some may come from anonymous senders or secret admirers. They might appeal to your curiosity and cause you to click on a link, claiming that the e-card is from a family member, friend, or other unnamed person.

Identity Theft Precautions for California State Employees

The Teale Data Center for the State of California has reported a security breach in the data base that holds payroll deduction information for all state government employees. According to news reports, officials for the Data Center are quite certain that data was not removed, although they are not entirely certain. One of the data elements in the data base is employee Social Security number (SSN). The incident apparently occurred in April 2002.

Call Don't Click: Why It Is Smarter to Order a Federally Mandated Credit Report Via the Phone Instead of the Internet

new report issued today by Pam Dixon of the World Privacy Forum (www.worldprivacyforum.org) in advance of the March 1 rollout of free credit reports to Midwest residents, shows that consumers may be better off calling or mailing for their federally mandated free credit report instead of going online for it.

Contact the FTC: Speak Out about Pre-Recorded Telemarketing Calls

Did you put your telephone number on the national Do-Not-Call Registry (DNC), but still get sales calls from companies you’ve never heard of? Quite likely many unwanted sales calls you get today are not made by a live person. Instead many companies use auto-dialers, programmed to start a recorded message the minute you answer the phone. But, the calls that probably really get your dander up are the “dead air” calls, when you run to catch the phone but are met with silence.


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