10 Tips for Safe and Private Holiday Shopping


As the holidays approach, consumers are more likely to be visiting crowded stores and malls.  Scam artists and fraudsters know this, so they are likely to be lurking there too.  Privacy Rights Clearinghouse is pleased to offer these helpful tips to protect yourself during this often hectic holiday season.

What Is HealthVault? Things to Think About Before You Participate


HealthVault is Microsoft's new service for storing, managing, and accessing a patient's medical information. www.healthvault.com  It operates as an online encrypted service.  The service offers a voluntary opportunity for medical records to be collected by aggregating information from various sources including health-care providers, insurance companies, and compatible medical devices (such as blood pressure monitoring devices).

Pharmacies Profiting At Your Expense: Your Help Is Requested


The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) has been in the forefront in asserting that pharmacies -- and their marketing partners, the big pharmaceutical companies -- act improperly when using the medical information in customer prescriptions to mail letters or call customers in order to sell more drugs.

If this happened to you or someone in your family, please let us know.  It could be very helpful to the outcome of the lawsuit.

Dump Your Debit Card! New Guide Explains Your Card Payment Options


The PRC advises that most consumers should not use or carry a debit or check card.  The guide explains the eight major shortcomings of these cards and suggests alternatives for consumers to consider.  Paul Stephens, PRC’s Director of Policy and Advocacy, elaborated, “Scammers have become quite sophisticated in gaining access to your card information.  Most people don’t realize that lost, stolen, or compromised debit cards can provide an open door for fraudsters to empty your bank account."

Real ID Act Will Increase Exposure to ID Theft


If you think identity theft is bad now, wait until something called the Real ID Act goes into effect. This law federalizes and standardizes state driver’s licenses for all 50 states, and it will result in something that has been resisted in this country for a long time -- a de facto national identity card.
The Real ID Act was pushed through Congress in 2005 with little meaningful debate. It imposes sweeping changes on state driver’s licenses that will result in significant new fees and hassles for everyone who needs a license or ID – not to mention posing a new threat to Americans’ privacy. And, our experience suggests that if Real ID becomes the standard for driver’s licenses, it will worsen the problem of identity theft.

Junk Faxes: They Are Now OK with a "Business" Relationship


Until recently, the law on fax advertising was simple and straightforward: No one could send a fax advertisement without your prior consent. Of course, this did not stop the deluge of unwanted faxes touting hot stocks, mortgage offers, and vacation deals. Now, adding to the frustration, Congress has created an exception for fax advertisements sent when you have an “established business relationship,” or EBR, with the sender.

The Case of the Disappearing Check: What is Electronic Check Conversion?


Electronic check conversion may be used when you make purchases in person at a store or when you mail a check to pay your credit card, utility or mortgage account payment. Either way, the growing use of electronic check conversion means you have to be more diligent than ever about tracking your payments and correcting errors in your account. When checks are processed electronically, your rights, remedies, and potential losses are governed by the federal Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) Act. This is the same law that governs your ATM and debit card transactions.

It's Tax Time. Take These Extra Precautions with Your Mail


During the month of January, check your mailbox for information notices from organizations that have made taxable payments to you during the previous year. While these information notices are essential for preparing your taxes, they also are a treasure trove for identity thieves. A typical information notice has your non-truncated Social Security number as well as the name of your employer, your bank, mutual fund, or stock broker.

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