Cool New Tech Devices: What Privacy Risks Are Wrapped Up Under Your Tree?

Are you asking for a “smart” appliance or thermostat, fitness tracking device, connected security camera system for your home, or even smart clothing this holiday season?  As the holiday season approaches, all the new cool technology gadgets that are “must haves” may have privacy risks you didn’t consider. 

The technology world has coined the connection of devices “The Internet of Things” or “IoT”   Most likely, when you think of "the Internet", you visualize going online by using a computer, tablet, or smartphone.  However, with technological advances, numerous other everyday devices can also access the Internet and transmit various types of data.  In fact, almost any item (even an article of clothing with a special tag) can be connected to the Internet. 

Many Unhappy Returns

It’s inevitable.  As the holidays draw to a close, many of us will have received a well-intended gift that we may not like.  Whether it’s a matter of the wrong size or color, a defective product, a duplicate gift, or just something that we just “don’t want”, it may become necessary to return the gift to a retailer.  Retailers have different policies (and states have different laws) concerning the ability to return unwanted merchandise.  But, one thing that troubles many privacy conscious consumers is when retailers require a driver’s license (or other government-issued ID) for returning or exchanging merchandise.  

Why do some retailers swipe your driver’s license?

Retailers say they do this to keep better track of possible return fraud. Typically, they will swipe your license in a reader that will query a database to look at your return history for patterns of fraud or abuse.  By scanning your license, the retailer can collect any information that is encoded on the license's magnetic stripe or bar code. In most states, this information includes the data printed on the face of your license, such as name, address, date of birth, and license number. 

Giving Tuesday

giving tues logo

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse appreciates your ongoing support and generosity. Each donation to our organization, however small, contributes directly to our growing privacy education resources and helps us to broaden the community we serve.

This year, on Tuesday, December 1st, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse will be participating in Giving Tuesday, a global day dedicated to giving. Giving Tuesday is a worldwide movement and an opportunity for everyone to give back to their community by showing support for the nonprofit organizations they care about.

Protecting Your Privacy While Holiday Shopping

With the holiday shopping season upon us, stores and malls will probably be busier. Shoppers may need to deal with frantic conditions and are more likely to let their guard down than during other times of the year.  Scam artists and fraudsters know this, so they will be waiting for you to be forgetful or make a mistake.  Privacy Rights Clearinghouse wants you to know how you can help protect your privacy while shopping.

Keeping Your Children Safe While They’re Online

There are many applications that our children use to talk to their friends, gather information and express themselves.  As parents, we want the Internet to be a safe and enjoyable experience for our children and teens. But we may not know all the resources available to us to make that happen. Below are some basic privacy tips and useful resources.

Teens are the most vulnerable due to the amount of time they spend online. According to a study by Pew Research, “92% of teens report going online daily including 24% who say they go online ‘almost constantly’. More than half (56%) of teens, defined in this report as those ages 13-17, go online several times a day, and 12% report once-a-day use. Just 6% of teens report going online weekly, and 2% go online less often.”

Here are a few tips to keep your kids and their information safe while online.

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.


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