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.

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

Big Data: The White House Is Thinking about It -- You Should Too.

The White House recently released a report on big data. While it was highly anticipated by people who closely follow data privacy issues, chances are that it wasn't on the radar of most individuals.  Even so, we believe it is an issue that everybody should start thinking about.  

Why is big data a significant privacy challenge?

As technology advances so does the ability to collect, combine, and analyze data.  This is relevant to individuals because, as the report states, "the volume of information that people create themselves…pales in comparison to the amount of digital information created about them each day."

Individuals often aren’t aware when information about them is collected and used. They may not know who has data associated with them, who that data may be shared with, and whether there are any choices or protections in place (in many instances there are not).

In addition, it is difficult to predict how this information may be used in a way that impacts someone’s life – for better or worse.

Passwords aren't enough! Why you should consider using two-factor authentication

Passwords are dead.  Or so we keep hearing.  On their own, passwords clearly aren't the best way to protect our important information and accounts.  However, for better or worse passwords are still very much alive until the next solution comes along and is widely adopted. 

We have been preaching good password hygiene for many years, and we still think it is important.   But unfortunately data breaches occur quite often and cybercriminals can be quite savvy.  If you want to learn more, the 2014 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report contains information on attacker methods and patterns over the past decade.

You can never assure perfect security, but fortunately you can take some steps to avoid being the low-hanging fruit.  One way to do this is to look for and enable two-factor authentication in your online accounts.  

Looking for Love Online? Be Aware of the Risks.

Online dating is a growing industry in the United States, increasing in popularity and profits every year. An estimated 40 million Americans have tried online dating and dating sites will collectively gross $2 billion in 2012. The proliferation of dating sites has become a cultural phenomenon as millions of users flock to find romantic partners online.

If you're looking for love online, see our six tips to help protect your privacy and read our new consumer guide, where we discuss the risks of online dating sites and how you can protect yourself.

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