PRC Recommends Wireless Cell Phone 411 Directory Should be Complete Opt In

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) advocates that the wireless 411 directory that is slated to be launched in early 2005 provide a strict opt-in mechanism that requires express consent before cell phone numbers are listed in the directory. The PRC also believes that federal legislation should be strengthened to ensure this standard is met.

"We believe there are several reasons to recommend the opt-in standard, one being privacy," said Jordana Beebe, PRC Communications Director. Though the wireless industry touts their directory will be an opt-in standard, Beebe counters, "We are also concerned about the unregulated wireless industry overseeing the directory without legislative oversight."

Free Credit Reports to End

The only credit reporting bureau to offer free credit reports to consumers will halt this practice March 1, 1997.

Experian, formerly known as TRW, has been providing free credit reports since 1992. It had expected the other two major credit bureaus, Equifax and Trans Union, to follow suit, but that has not happened. Further, consumer advocates had pushed Congress to mandate free credit reports when it was considering amendments to the Fair Credit Reporting Act in 1996. But instead, legislators capped the price at $8 per report.

California Do-Not-Call Registry Is Merging with the Federal List

In 2002, the California Legislature mandated that the state's Attorney General (AG) establish a statewide do-not-call list. It was to be operational by April 1, 2003. But in December 2002, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it would establish a national do-not-call list that would encompass all of the states. Rather than duplicate efforts and confuse consumers, the California AG's office instead joined with the FTC in order to merge the state's efforts with the federal list. The federal list will not be activated until October 2003. Here's how this has all transpired and what it means for you:

Privacy Tips for Tax Season

You may be resigned to giving the government your money this tax season, but watch out for fraudsters looking for a piece of the action. Your tax forms contain sensitive information, including your Social Security Number. Taxpayers have a choice of filing by mail or electronically. Consumers may use personal software, professional services, or old-fashioned pencil and paper. Either way you can bet there is a fraudster ready with a scam. The following tips can help protect your privacy.

Full-Page Ad Distorts Facts about SB 773, California Financial Privacy Bill

The group's name, as well as its web site's address, www.caprivacyprotection.org, bely the Coalition's true colors. It is an industry-backed organization, comprised of the California Chamber of Commerce and the major financial industry trade associations in the state.

The Coalition's newspaper ad contains outright distortions about the provisions of SB 773. Here are some examples.

Real ID Act Will Increase Exposure to ID Theft

If you think identity theft is bad now, wait until something called the Real ID Act goes into effect. This law federalizes and standardizes state driver’s licenses for all 50 states, and it will result in something that has been resisted in this country for a long time -- a de facto national identity card.
The Real ID Act was pushed through Congress in 2005 with little meaningful debate. It imposes sweeping changes on state driver’s licenses that will result in significant new fees and hassles for everyone who needs a license or ID – not to mention posing a new threat to Americans’ privacy. And, our experience suggests that if Real ID becomes the standard for driver’s licenses, it will worsen the problem of identity theft.

Watch Out for "Phishing" Emails Attempting to Capture Your Personal Information

Email users are being bombarded with authentic-looking messages that instruct them to provide sensitive personal information. It's called "phising." Individuals who "bite" are exposed to identity theft.

Phishing occurs when a consumer receives a deceptively-legitimate looking email from what appears to be a reputable company. The email asks recipients to update their credit card information or their account will be promptly terminated. Or the message offers a service to protect their credit cards from possible fraud.

Confusing E-Mail about Opt-Out Number Sends the Wrong Message

An unknown individual has broadcast an electronic mail message that has reached tens of thousands of consumers, confusing them with information that is only half correct.

The message explains, erroneously, that as of July 1, 2003, "the four major credit bureaus in the US will be allowed . to release your credit info, mailing addresses, phone numbers..... to anyone who requests it." This is not correct.

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