10 Tips for Safe and Private Holiday Shopping

As the holidays approach, consumers are more likely to be visiting crowded stores and malls.  Scam artists and fraudsters know this, so they are likely to be lurking there too.  Privacy Rights Clearinghouse is pleased to offer these helpful tips to protect yourself during this often hectic holiday season.

Bogus E-Mail Message Impersonates Social Security Administration

The Agency has received several reports of an email message being circulated with the subject “Cost-of-Living for 2007 update” and purporting to be from the Social Security Administration. The message provides information about the 3.3 percent benefit increase for 2007 and contains the following “NOTE: We now need you to update your personal information. If this is not completed by November 11, 2006, we will be forced to suspend your account indefinitely.” The reader is then directed to a website designed to look like Social Security’s Internet website.

California's "Shine the Light" Law Goes into Effect Jan. 1, 2005

When you’ve received junk mail, have you ever wondered which company provided your name and address to the marketer? Now you can find out. The “Shine the Light” law requires certain businesses to disclose their information-sharing practices with their customers. Upon request, companies must tell you with whom they have shared your personal information for marketing purposes within the last twelve months.

Privacy Groups Urge Gov. Schwarzenegger to Veto Spyware Bill

The California-based Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and the World Privacy Forum urge you to veto SB 1436, a bill dealing with spyware, authored by Senator Kevin Murray.  While this bill is well-intentioned, it would establish provisions that are virtually unenforceable, could well undermine existing law, and further, would set a bad precedent nationwide for other spyware bills that are likely to be considered in other states and in Congress.

The Return Exchange: Q & A

The consumers who have contacted us have expressed a concern about having their drivers license swiped. Most indicate that they were not notified at the Point of Sale (POS) that their license or other form of goverment-issued ID would be required in order to make a return or exchange.

Will I Be Able to Return That Unwanted Holiday Gift? The Retail Equation (formerly The Return Exchange)

When a consumer wants to make a return, the retailer will swipe the person’s driver’s license (or other government-issued ID). As customers return merchandise, The Retail Equation compares variables such as return frequency, dollar amounts and/or time against a set of rules that form the retailer’s return policy. If you make repeated returns or exchanges to a specific merchant, you may not be able to do so again at a later date.

Consumers Can Get Free “Specialty” Consumer Reports Starting December 1, 2004

SAN DIEGO, CA – The arrival of free credit reports on December 1st is getting a lot of attention these days. (www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/freereports.htm) But there is another kind of report, called “specialty consumer reports,” that individuals can obtain at no charge beginning on the first of the month. The federal law that requires credit reporting bureaus to provide free reports is the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, also known as FACTA. The law also gives consumers the right to one free report prepared by a “nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency” that compiles files on consumers.

It's Tax Time. Take These Extra Precautions with Your Mail

During the month of January, check your mailbox for “information returns” from organizations (both individuals and businesses) that have made taxable payments to you during the previous year.  These information notices will arrive on IRS approved forms, but will be sent to you directly by the organization providing you with taxable income.  The most well-known information return is the IRS W-2 form which reports your taxable wages.

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