Understanding Health and Medical Privacy

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has recently updated and expanded our consumer guides on health privacy.  We are excited to release our updated HIPAA Health Privacy Fact Sheets.   Visit our Medical Privacy page to find additional resources on health-related privacy issues.  As always, please feel free to contact us with your privacy questions and complaints

Victim of a Data Breach? What Should You Do?

If you have been a victim of a data breach, you need to understand that there are differences between the types of breaches and the potential for both financial fraud and/or identity theft.


1. Understand what kind of breach occurred. You can read PRC’s Fact Sheet 17b: How to Deal with a Security Breach or take a look at our Chronology of Data Breaches for examples of the types of breaches. Depending on the breach specifics and the state in which you live, you may receive a breach notification letter that describes what happened. You might also find out about a breach through media reports.

New Chip-Enabled Credit and Debit Cards: What Do They Mean for You?

Now that an October 1, 2015 deadline has passed, many credit and debit card issuers are replacing older magnetic stripe credit and debit cards with new chip-enabled cards. Likewise, some retailers are updating point-of-sale card readers at their cash registers to accept these chip-enabled cards.

What are chip cards?

Chip cards are another name for EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) cards, which use a global standard for authenticating card transactions. EMV cards are “smart” cards that have a chip embedded into the card. Unlike traditional credit cards, EMV cards need not rely upon the magnetic stripe on the back of the card. EMV cards provide greater security than traditional cards and have been the standard in Europe for years.

Five Things I Learned from Reading the Privacy Policy

This is the first in a series of alerts by PRC Outreach Coordinator, Morgan that will take a deeper look into privacy policies, revealing important information for consumers about the use and protection of their personal information.

While browsing the Apple App Store or Android Play Store, you can find tens of thousands of applications (known as “apps”) under the “Medical” category. These apps require users to register in order to create a personalized medical profile that can manage their prescriptions or help track vitals like blood pressure and glucose levels. With pharmacy coupons at your fingertips and pill reminders in your pocket, these apps are marketed to mobile users as convenient, helpful, and even reliable or secure. Sounds like a dream come true for the plugged-in, health-conscious consumer! This in mind, I decided to take a closer look at some of the highest-rated medical apps’ privacy policies to find out what wasn’t being talked about in the app stores…

5 Back to School Privacy Tips for Parents of K-12 Students

Lately there has been a nationwide push for stronger student privacy rights – and for good reason.  Schools, districts, educational technology providers, and various other vendors collect a lot of student data. 

Even if your state lawmakers haven’t taken a step to better protect student data, there are federal laws that give students and their parents some rights and control over their personal information.   Here are five tips to help you understand and make informed decisions regarding your child’s privacy.

1.  Read your annual notification of FERPA rights.  If your child attends a public elementary or secondary school, the school must notify you each year of your rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA).  For example, you have the right to access your child’s education records and request that any inaccurate or misleading information be amended.    

Using Internet Cameras: Take These Steps to Protect Your Privacy and Security

Internet cameras let you monitor your home or business from afar, enabling you to check in on your kids, pets, property, and business. They’ve become increasingly popular among people who need to be in two or more places at once.

Being able to access a camera’s feed remotely means that the camera will be sending its video information via the Internet.  Without the proper security measures, these Internet (or IP) cameras may be giving strangers a front row seat to your personal life. There are a variety of cameras available on the market that offer specialized “administrator” controls as well as different levels of access. It’s important to find an IP camera that provides flexibility and convenience without sacrificing privacy or security.

Privacy Policies: What You Should Know

If you are like most people, you don’t really want to read privacy policies.  They aren’t typically easy to understand.   Nor are they often descriptive enough for you to actually grasp what a company is doing with your information. Even so, we believe they can be valuable tools to help you protect your personal information.  You might discover privacy settings and choices you were unaware of.   You will also find that some companies take your privacy more seriously than others, which may help you choose who to do business with.

If you want to learn more about how to read a full privacy policy and what information they should contain, see the California Attorney General’s helpful guide

Federal Data Breach Legislation – A Step Backward for Consumers

Data breaches make the news almost daily, and it is highly likely you have been the victim of one or more.  In 2015, both the White House and Congress have responded to the attention surrounding data breaches.  The most recent effort is a draft bill in the House of Representatives by Rep. Blackburn (R-TN) and Rep. Welch (D-VT) called the “Data Security and Breach Notification Act of 2015.”  While all this attention sounds promising, the bill as written would reduce the protections most consumers already receive.

Identity Theft Tops FTC’s Consumer Complaint Categories

For the 15th consecutive year, identity theft has topped the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) national ranking of consumer complaints.  Identity theft represented 13% of all complaints in 2014 according to the FTC's 2014 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book.  Identity theft has held the FTC’s No. 1 spot for 15 years.  The FTC’s Consumer Sentinel database provides law enforcement officials across the country with access to consumer complaints in their jurisdictions.

According to Javelin Strategy & Research’s March 2015 Identity Fraud Study, fraudsters stole $16 billion from 12.7 million U.S. consumers last year.  The study found that two-thirds of identity fraud victims in 2014 had previously received a data breach notification in the same year.

PRC Celebrates National Consumer Protection Week

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse is celebrating National Consumer Protection Week March 1-7, 2015. Visit ncpw.gov to find out more and get involved! Make sure to check out our daily tips March 1st through the 7th on our front page. We will provide you some simple tips to keep your “privacy health" in check! 

Saturday Tip:

Tax ID Fraud is on the rise, make sure to file early and do not re-use passwords, make them unique if you file online! https://www.privacyrights.org/frequently-asked-questions-about-identity-theft


Friday Tip:

Use multifactor authentication for your online accounts when you can. Learn more: https://www.privacyrights.org/content/passwords-arent-enough-why-you-should-consider-using-two-factor-authentication #security #NCPW2015

Thursday Tip:

When signing up for a social network, don’t share your complete date of birth, age, or place of birth. This information could be useful to identity thieves and to data mining companies.  https://www.privacyrights.org/social-networking-privacy-how-be-safe-secure-and-social#tips

Wednesday Tip:

Understand the value of identity theft monitoring services and free or at low cost alternatives.  Read our guide at https://www.privacyrights.org/identity-theft-monitoring-services

Tuesday Tip:

Are you making sure to protect your privacy before you dispose of or donate your old smartphone? Here are some tips on what to do before it is too late http://www.cnet.com/news/what-to-do-before-selling-or-donating-your-phone/.  Check out our checklist of responsible information-handling practices https://www.privacyrights.org/checklist-responsible-information-handling-practices

Monday Tip:

Why you should protect your smartphone/tablet just like you would your computer http://www.cnet.com/videos/keep-your-android-device-safe-from-malware/. Understand privacy in the age of the smartphone/tablet https://www.privacyrights.org/smartphone-cell%20phone-privacy

Sunday Tip

Don’t pay with a debit card. Learn why at https://www.privacyrights.org/merchant-retail-payment-methods-credit-card-vs-debit-card#2.


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