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 ( 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.

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, a subsidiary of the credit bureau Experian, and, companies that advertise free credit reports. The FTC charged the companies with "deceptive and misleading" claims. and 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.


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