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 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!


Friday Tip:

Use multifactor authentication for your online accounts when you can. Learn more: #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.

Wednesday Tip:

Understand the value of identity theft monitoring services and free or at low cost alternatives.  Read our guide at

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  Check out our checklist of responsible information-handling practices

Monday Tip:

Why you should protect your smartphone/tablet just like you would your computer Understand privacy in the age of the smartphone/tablet

Sunday Tip

Don’t pay with a debit card. Learn why at

Get Your Digital House In Order!

Now is a good time to take a moment to make sure you are doing what you can to help minimize data privacy and security risks with regard to your digital accounts.  

1.  Take inventory of your online accounts.  Make a list all of the online accounts you have, and determine which ones you no longer use or need.  This may include old email accounts, social media accounts, financial and banking accounts, shopping accounts that retain your credit card information, accounts containing personal health information, and others.  

2.  Examine your password practices. Do you use the same passwords for multiple accounts containing sensitive information?  Do you use common words or phrases as passwords? If the answer to either of those is yes, create a new strategy and change your passwords.  This could involve using a password manager, enabling multi-factor authentication (which we highly recommend), or (at minimum) changing and strengthening your passwords.

Mobile Device Security: Basic Tips to Protect Your Data from Thieves and Cybercriminals

With the ever increasing presence of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices in our lives, it is important to be aware of some common privacy and security threats.  These are vast and varied, so the level of privacy and security you seek will likely depend on the information at stake.

Start by thinking about the information on your device.  How valuable is this information to you? Would you be upset if someone accessed it without asking you? What would happen if it were lost or stolen? Below we’ve noted a few things you may want to think about, and some tips to help you get started!

Aside from physical theft, threats such as malware and spyware have become increasingly sophisticated.  The good news is there are some EASY things you can do to reduce your chances of falling victim.

Don't Become a Target: Make Smart Choices to Protect Your Privacy

With all of the media surrounding the Target, Neiman Marcus, and, now, Michaels data breaches (and potentially other retail outlets), it can be overwhelming to determine what you should do to protect yourself.  Even though you can't prevent a breach, there are steps you can and should take to prevent future headache and harm.   

This is an important alert to read even if you weren't a victim of the recent breaches. As privacy and security professionals say on a regular basis, data breaches aren't a question of "if", they are a question of "when." It is best to be prepared and proactive.

Read more to find out our top 5 tips.

Make Protecting Your Privacy Your 2014 New Year's Resolution!

Privacy has been a hot topic in 2013, and the New Year presents a perfect opportunity to examine how we protect our personal information and resolve to do better.  Privacy Rights Clearinghouse poses ten questions to help you manage your privacy in the coming year.

  • Are your computers and mobile devices properly secured?
  • Do you know your apps?
  • Are you following good password practices?
  • Do you practice safe social networking?
  • Have you checked your credit reports recently?



YouTube Video on Annual Credit Reports

We are excited to debut our latest YouTube video, Annual Credit Reports: Know Your Rights. The video demonstrates the importance of regularly checking your credit report.

The 4-minute film opens with 23-year-old Jenny saying goodbye to the car she had throughout high school and college. Buying a new car will be her first big purchase as an adult. Jenny does her research and settles on the perfect car for her, a "lil' beauty." However, Jenny is devastated to discover that her credit score is too low to qualify for the advertised interest rate. Jenny can't afford the car...

What could Jenny have done differently? Is there a happy ending in store for Jenny? Watch the video to find out. If you like it, we hope you will share it with friends and family.

Spring Cleaning Tips to Keep Personal Data Safe

Planning to spring clean your home or office? One of the biggest parts of spring cleaning is getting rid of clutter you no longer need. In the past, this meant tossing junk like a broken typewriter or planning a garage sale to recoup a few bucks for an old television. But in today's digital age, the adage "when in doubt, toss it out" could actually put you in harm's way. Identity thieves make a career seeking out discarded sensitive documents or digital devices loaded with personal data.


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