Parents: How Much Should You Share Online When it Comes to Your Kids?

We live in a “social world.”   Parents have many opportunities to disclose information about their children in social forums – by posting family news and photos on Facebook, tweeting your child’s latest accomplishments in sports, even launching a blog.

Social media can be a great tool for parents, but how do you know when you are sharing too much information about your kids?

This is largely a matter of personal choice, but it is important to be aware that the burden generally falls on parents to protect their children’s privacy.   As is often the case, it is easier to be proactive than reactive. 

Here are three very basic points to bear in mind before you share information about your child on social media.

Debt collector or scam artist? Know how to spot a fake

As we become increasingly reliant on digital data, we sometimes take for granted that the companies we entrust with our information are taking the necessary steps to keep it safe. Many are, but many are still way behind and that is what the hackers, cybercriminals and scam artists are counting on.

The fake debt collector scam is particularly disturbing. While the scam isn’t a new one, criminals are finding innovative ways to accomplish their goals of stealing your money, your identity, or both.

Recently, the database of a national collection and debt service company was breached. Specific information about individuals was accessed, including the amount of debt owed, names, phone numbers, addresses, co-signer information, and Social Security numbers. Fraudsters then posed as legitimate debt collectors. With such a vast knowledge of the account holders’ information, an individual would have little reason to be suspicious.

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.

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

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.

Prepaid Cards and Your Privacy

Prepaid cards, also known as “general purpose reloadable cards”, have become increasingly popular in the past few years, among both consumers with and without a bank account. According to a recent report by The Pew Charitable Trusts, approximately 1 in 11 consumers use a prepaid card at least once per month, and 27% of these users do not have a checking account.

Since prepaid cards look and function much like bank cards, many Americans may see them as a simple alternative with less obligation. However, prepaid cards can also come with a hefty list of ‘terms and conditions’ governing fees, penalties, and responsibilities the consumer may not even be aware of at the time of purchase.

 

Passwords and Your Privacy

Passwords are the first line of defense against the compromise of your digital information.  Revealing the data on your phone, your banking information, your email, your medical records, or other personal information could be devastating.  Yet many people fail to follow proper practices when selecting the passwords to protect this important information.  Here are some password “dos” and “don’ts” that can help you to maintain the security of your personal data.

Do use longer passwords.  Passwords become harder to crack with each character that you add, so longer passwords are better than shorter ones. A brute-force attack can easily defeat a short password.

Do use special characters, such as $, #, and &.  Most passwords are case sensitive, so use a mixture of upper case and lower case letters, as well as numbers.  An online password checker can help you determine the strength of your password.

California Student Records to be Disclosed in Ongoing Lawsuit

The Identity Theft Resource Center and Privacy Rights Clearinghouse want to alert all parents of school-aged children throughout California about a pending deadline to object to the potential release of their child’s sensitive personal identifying information. The deadline for parents and adult students to object to the disclosure of personal information and records is April 1, 2016.

Tax Season Fraud Prevention Tips

Tax season is here, and with it come scammers and identity thieves hoping to profit.  Here are Privacy Rights Clearinghouse’s (PRC) top tips and resources to help you protect your privacy, your money, and your identity.  

Reduce the risk of your mail falling into the wrong hands. You should take steps to protect sensitive information year round, but during tax season you will likely receive a number of “information returns” containing sensitive information such as your Social Security number.

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