The Power of Complaints: An Opportunity to Strengthen the Consumer’s Voice

Virtually every American adult uses at least one, and usually several, financial products. These include credit cards, pre-paid cards, bank accounts, credit reporting, mortgages, loans, and money transfers.

When problems occur, the consequences can be severe: for example, the inability to obtain credit; difficulty getting a mortgage; and being hounded by debt collectors for someone else’s debt.

In 2011, a new federal agency was launched, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), with an important mission – regulating financial products and services. The CFPB invites complaints via its website, which has been carefully designed for ease of use. It also engages in consumer financial education.

In the past three years, it has received more than 400,000 complaints. Complaints about specific financial products and services are forwarded to the appropriate companies for their response and, when warranted, resolution.

The CFPB has brought its complaint process into the sunlight by posting on its website the nature of those complaints and their status in the resolution process.  Anyone with Internet access can visit www.consumerfinance.gov to both submit their own complaints and view the bare bones details of many thousands more. 

Facebook Does It Again

Shortly after its founding, Facebook had developed a rather simple privacy policy: “No personal information that you submit to Thefacebook will be available to any user of the Web Site who does not belong to at least one of the groups specified by you in your privacy settings.”

Over the years, Facebook has frequently changed its Privacy Policy and tinkered with default privacy settings, almost always to the detriment of its users.  Mashable has chronicled some of these changes in its infographic A Short History of Facebook Privacy Failure.

Recently, a team of researchers released a study detailing how emotions expressed in Facebook posts and status updates can actually spread to your friends.

A Renter's Guide to Privacy: Top 5 Privacy Tips for Renters

Most people will live in a rental property at some point in their lives. It doesn't matter if you rent a studio apartment or a mansion; you are likely to have privacy concerns both during the rental process and later as a tenant. Renters often contact the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) with questions about their privacy rights. Now, renters can consult the PRC's new Fact Sheet 38: A Renter's Guide to Privacy: What to Know Before You Sign the Lease, While You Rent, and When You Move Out.

The new consumer guide covers important privacy rights at every stage of the rental process. The PRC's top 5 tips for renters are:

1. Order your credit report before you apply for a rental. A prospective landlord will almost certainly order your credit report when considering your rental application. Before you apply, order your own report to confirm that the information is accurate and up-to-date.

2. Avoid rental scams by recognizing warning signs. Online resources such as Craigslist.org are a popular way to search for available rentals. Unfortunately, scammers also use these sites to place fake listings in an attempt to steal your money or identity. Learn to recognize common warning signs including being asked to pay or provide personal information before you see the property.

Top 10 Tips to Protect Your Privacy

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) recommends the following 10 tips to protect your privacy.

1. Monitor your credit report – look for errors and fraud. You have the right to one free credit report per year from each of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Order one report every four months so that you can monitor your credit reports on an ongoing basis. Learn more by reading PRC's Fact Sheet 6.

2. Reduce unwanted telemarketing phone calls. Register with the National Do Not Call Registry. If you receive a call from a company with which you do business, ask to be placed on its internal "Do Not Call List." Learn more by reading PRC's Fact Sheet 5.

3. Protect the personal information on your smartphone. Smartphone users are 33% more likely to become a victim of identity theft than non-users. Password-protect your smartphone and use the security lockout feature so that the phone automatically locks after a certain amount of time not in use. Learn more by reading PRC's Fact Sheet 2b.

Biederman Institute's First Annual Online Privacy Conference

Join legal experts, scholars, privacy advocates, and government representatives in a lively day-long conference on online privacy. The conference is presented by Southwestern Law School's Biederman Entertainment and Media Law Institute. The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and the law firm of Johnson & Johnson LLP are co-sponsors

Friday, February 22, 2013
Southwestern Law School's Biederman Entertainment and Media Law Institute
3050 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, California 90005

Featuring

Lunch & Interview with Julie Brill
Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission

Cocktails, Dinner & Interview with Erin Egan
Chief Privacy Officer, Policy, Facebook

and panel discussions on
The Why and How of Privacy
Privacy and Reputation
Privacy and the Digital Marketplace
Privacy and the Workplace

See complete details.
See the conference agenda.
See the brochure (PDF).

Oct. 11 Privacy Event: The Digital Collection of Personal Information from Consumers and Citizens

In Washington D.C. on Tuesday, October 11, privacy and civil liberties experts will convene to discuss how the digital collection of personal information harms consumers and citizens. Every day, companies amass information about consumers via online tracking, digital devices, and public records. These practices are largely unregulated, but have serious consequences for consumers and society.

The panel will be from 8:45 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. Eastern. Watch LIVE online at http://www.visualwebcaster.com/ProtectingConsumerPrivacyOnline.

The event is sponsored by the ACLU, Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Consumer Watchdog, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, US PIRG and World Privacy Forum.

View and Share our NEW VIDEO on Jobseeker Rights

We are excited to announce that our video highlighting jobseeker rights and background checks is ready to view and share! 

Watch the video to find out what’s keeping Taylor Thomas from getting hired. Learn your rights about employment background checks, and spread the word! Although Taylor is a fictional character, the situation dramatized on the six-minute video is similar to many complaints we have received from individuals who have contacted our hotline with questions and complaints about background check errors.

This Labor Day, PRC Urges Jobseekers to Know Their Rights

As the nation celebrates the achievements of American workers this Labor Day weekend, it’s hard to ignore the 13.9 million people who remain unemployed. Millions of Americans are searching for work, and have been for months. The weak job market means employers are being flooded with candidates. 

To weed out candidates, employers often turn to background checks.  In a poll conducted by The Society for Human Resource Management, 73% of employersreported conducting criminal background checks on all job candidates. There are many companies specializing in employment screening and each uses its own method to gather background data. Unfortunately, many consumers have contacted us to report that they were the subject of a background check containing inaccurate data.  It’s important for job seekers to be aware of their rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), a law that regulates the consumer reporting industry.

Facial Recognition is a Threat to Your Privacy

Imagine you’re walking down the street and a stranger snaps your photo with his smartphone. He uses a facial recognition app and within minutes, he knows your name, age, where you were born, and your Social Security number. Think it’s a scene from the movie Minority Report? Think again.

Facial recognition technology – especially as the technology becomes more sophisticated – may be one of the gravest privacy threats of our time.

Bogus Group Falsely Claims Signing Ballot Petitions Puts You at Risk for Identity Theft

[California-specific] A new 60-second radio ad airing in southern California is using fear tactics in an attempt to stop voters from signing ballot measure petitions.  The ad purports that giving your name and address to petition campaigners amounts to an “identity theft starter kit.” 

“The threat claimed in these ads is totally false. Social Security numbers are the keys to identity theft.  And obviously those are not collected by petition gatherers,” states Beth Givens, director of Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

Pages

Showing 81-90 of 222 results
Subscribe to Alert