Nonprofit Organizations and Privacy: Responsible Mailing List Management

We got a call from a woman who had written over 2,000 letters in the past couple years, asking to be taken off various and sundry mailing lists. She kept detailed records of all her correspondence and its effect. The one entity that was the most troublesome to her was a nonprofit organization -- she wrote it 18 times to no avail. It was the Republican National Committee

For a Complete Medical History, Compile Your Own Health Records but be Cautious about Storing Them Online

If you don't already keep a personal health record, now is the best time to start. Do not rely on your ability to go back in time to collate a complete medical file. The longer you wait, the more difficulty you may have in obtaining older health records.

New Privacy Rights May Be Buried in "Junk" Mail

Now is not the time to toss junk mail and ignore inserts in your bank and credit card statements. "Watch your mail!" says Tena Friery, research director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

Because of a new federal law, financial institutions are now mailing notices to consumers containing important information about their privacy rights. "Failure to pay attention to these privacy notices may result in sensitive financial data being sold to other companies for marketing and other purposes," warns Friery.

PRC Takes Aim at CAPPS II

Today several consumer privacy organizations including the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse submitted joint comments regarding the CAPPS II program. At the same time, the PRC filed suit against JetBlue Airways for violating its privacy policy in regards to sharing information about its passengers with third parties.

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:

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.

Consumers in Midwest States Can Get Free Credit Reports Starting March 1, 2005

A new federal law, known as the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, or FACTA, adopted by Congress in 2003 gives consumers nationwide the right to receive a free copy of their credit report. The law is being phased in through the U.S. and Midwest states are next on the rollout list. The ability for consumers to get a free copy of their credit report annually started on the West Coast on December 1, 2004, and individuals living in the Midwest can start receiving their reports on March 1, 2005.


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