Victim of a Data Breach? What Should You Do?

If you have been a victim of a data breach, you need to understand that there are differences between the types of breaches and the potential for both financial fraud and/or identity theft.

 

1. Understand what kind of breach occurred. You can read PRC’s Fact Sheet 17b: How to Deal with a Security Breach or take a look at our Chronology of Data Breaches for examples of the types of breaches. Depending on the breach specifics and the state in which you live, you may receive a breach notification letter that describes what happened. You might also find out about a breach through media reports.

Understanding Health and Medical Privacy

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has recently updated and expanded our consumer guides on health privacy.  We are excited to release our updated HIPAA Health Privacy Fact Sheets.   Visit our Medical Privacy page to find additional resources on health-related privacy issues.  As always, please feel free to contact us with your privacy questions and complaints

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. 

FTC Issues Warning Letter to Tenant Screening Companies: PRC's Assistance Acknowledged

In researching our latest Fact Sheet 38: A Renter’s Guide to Privacy, we compiled a list of data brokers that provide tenant screening services to landlords.  We shared this information with the Federal Trade Commission and indicated our concerns. In general, we receive more complaints about the data broker industry than any other privacy topic.

The FTC subsequently notified six such companies and warned them of their obligation to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  For more information, see the Federal Trade Commission's April 3, 2013 press release. Read the letter warning six tenant screening companies of their obligation to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, here.

If you have encountered problems with similar companies in your efforts to rent a property, we encourage you to file a complaint with the FTC.  You may also contact the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse with your questions and complaints.

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.

Survive Cyber Monday with our Top 10 Online Shopping Tips

The phrase "Cyber Monday" was coined several years ago to describe the phenomenon of millions of workers returning to their offices on the Monday after Thanksgiving and spending a good part of the day doing their holiday shopping online.  By November 2010, Cyber Monday had become the biggest online shopping day in history and the first to surpass the billion-dollar threshold. 

By all indications, Cyber Monday 2011 will be a blockbuster day for online retailers.  Shopping online can be a convenient, time-saving, and economical alternative to shopping in a traditional "bricks and mortar" retail store.  However, it's important for consumers to take basic steps to protect their privacy.  If you plan to shop online on Cyber Monday (or on any other day of the year), following these 10 tips will help to protect you from fraud, identity theft and other privacy intrusions.

Internet Privacy: A Contradiction in Terms?

The  director of Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Beth Givens, went head to head in last Sunday's San Diego Union-Tribune with Michael Robertson, a San Diego-based high-tech entrepreneur who founded MP3.com and Gizmo5 among other ventures. The topic was online privacy. Givens and Robertson each contributed op-ed pieces to the Dialog section of the Union-Tribune.

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.

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