Call Don't Click Update: Still Be Smart about Ordering Federally Mandated Free Credit Reports

A new report issued today by the World Privacy Forum shows that many consumers may still be better off calling or mailing in for their federally mandated free credit reports instead of accessing the reports online. Although the official Annualcreditreport.com site has improved since its launch in December 2004, there are continuing hazards posed by imposter Web domains, some of which have been aggressively attempting to misdirect and in some cases deceive consumers.

Privacy Advocates Call for Tough Regulation of Financial Data and Stronger Identity Theft Protections

The recent security breaches of sensitive customer information held by ChoicePoint and Bank of America have underscored how vulnerable consumers are to threats of identity theft and the need for stronger protections to reduce such fraud. Watchdog groups are calling for new laws that provide proper oversight of businesses that collect and sell sensitive consumer information and tougher safeguards to give consumers the tools they need to stop identity theft before it starts.

Online Information Brokers and Your Privacy

There are many websites that sell or provide for free, personal information about individuals. This information is gathered from many sources including white pages listings (directory assistance), publicly-available sources and public 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.

Promises of Telemarketing Do-Not-Call Lists And What to Do While You Wait

Fed-up with unwanted telemarketing calls, consumers are anxious to add their telephone number to a do-not-call list. Interest has been fueled by recent media reports of a new do-not-call list soon to launched in California. When this happens, California will join about 20 other states that already have do-not-call lists.

In addition, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has adopted rules that will establish a national do-not-call registry, and the FTC may be joined by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in this effort.

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.

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.

Request Disclosure of Information Sharing Under California's Shine the Light Act

On January 1, 2005, California's Shine the Light Act came into effect. For more information about the Act, see the PRC's press release at www.privacyrights.org/ar/SB27Release.htm. In essence, certain businesses must provide California residents with a way to find out what personal information has been shared and with whom within the twelve months prior to receiving your request for disclosure.

California Security Breach Notification Law Goes into Effect July 1, 2003

Beginning on July 1, state government agencies as well as companies and nonprofit organizations regardless of geographic location must notify California customers if personal information maintained in computerized data files have been compromised by unauthorized access.

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