Tax Season Tips to Protect Your Privacy

Tax season officially began on Jan. 1, which means you may soon be receiving "information returns" in your mailbox. Unfortunately, information returns are likely to contain your full Social Security number and other sensitive information.

The New Year’s Biggest Privacy Risks

Many Americans are wrapping up a holiday season filled with online shopping, Facebook status updates, and gifts of smartphones and eBook readers. Now that the New Year is upon us, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse is urging Americans to pay attention to the privacy risks that accompany these trending technologies.

Caremark Reportedly Shares Confidential Prescription Information to Steer Business to CVS Pharmacies

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) has persistently challenged the health care industry’s improper use and disclosure of confidential medical information, which in many instances is used to market new or additional medication to patients. PRC has become aware that Caremark, a CVS owned company and one of the country’s largest pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), is improperly sharing prescription information with CVS to steer pharmacy patients to CVS pharmacies.

Check Out of Your Checking Account

Is your bank starting to charge you monthly fees for your formerly free checking account? Has a large, impersonal bank taken over the smaller bank that you were used to? Do you visit your local branch for service, and receive a sales pitch for products that you do not want? For these and other reasons, many consumers have become dissatisfied with their banking arrangements. If you are unhappy with your current bank, this alert will help you navigate the issues involved in switching your checking account to a new financial institution.

Geotag, You're It! What Your Smartphone Might Be Saying Behind Your Back

Snap a photo of a sunset with your iPhone and you can upload it to Twitter with a few clicks. But your smartphone might be transmitting more than a pretty photograph. It could be collecting and storing data about your real-time location – and then broadcasting that information when you upload photos onto the Internet. What is Geotagging? Geotagging refers to the practice of adding location information – like GPS coordinates – to different types of media, such as photos. The location information is embedded in a way that may not be visible to the naked eye. There are several ways to make geotags visible, including browser plug-ins and software programs that can reveal the location information embedded in photos, videos and other types of media.

New Federal Law Protects Gift Card Users

Is the gift card that you received for your birthday last month burning a hole in your pocket? Do you still have an unused gift card from the holidays? Consumers often have had to worry about using gift cards before they lost their value. That will now begin to change for the better.

Until recently, many gift cards users had few legal rights to protect them from fees and expiration dates. Although some states had laws protecting gift card users, there was no federal law offering nationwide consumer protections. That has now changed with a new federal law (the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act) that provides important protections for gift cards sold on or after August 22, 2010.

Is Your Computer a Zombie?

Has your computer or smart phone become a resource to commit malicious acts against other persons and companies? By taking advantage of a wide variety of computer vulnerabilities, your device may become a zombie that is under the control of a criminal that conducts crime using electronic devices (e-criminal). Once an e-criminal has control, not only is your device being used to attack other systems, anything stored on, or typed into, that device is also compromised.

In the past the malware focused on causing harm to the device such as making it crash or capturing keystrokes for the purpose of gaining access to bank accounts or credit card information.  As e-criminals continue to evolve their destructive goals and increase damage to their targets, they realized the need for substantial computing resources and a way to avoid being detected.  To achieve both of these goals, malware was developed enabling e-criminals to take over network-attached devices; a very cost effective solution!

Welcome to Our New Website!

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse is pleased to welcome you to our re-designed website.  Our new site incorporates user-oriented features that make it easier for visitors to quickly find and share information.  We’ve also updated our widely popular privacy compilations, including our Online Information Brokers List and our nationally-recognized Chronology of Data Breaches

Using the open source software Drupal, our new site allows PRC's privacy advocates to update the site more frequently - without compromising the privacy of our visitors.

Holiday Shopping? Ten Timely Tips

During the holiday season, you may be shopping more frequently and under more crowded and frantic conditions.   Follow these tips to help avoid scams and rip-offs.   Be a privacy-smart consumer!  Wherever you happen to shop this holiday season--the mall, online, or on Main Street--following these tips will help you have a safer and more private holiday season.

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