Planning a Summer Vacation? Be a Privacy-Smart Traveler


Identity theft is often a crime of opportunity. Don’t be a vacationer who presents a crook with that opportunity. Your personal information, credit and debit cards, driver’s license, passport, and other personal information are the fraudster’s target. A few minutes spent planning before you travel can help reduce the risk that a fraudster will ruin your vacation. Read this alert for tips to help you avoid any nasty surprises.

Online Personal Health Records: Are They Healthy for Your Privacy?


A personal health record (PHR) is a tool for collecting, tracking, and sharing information about your health.  Because medical records are among the most sensitive type of personal information, we at the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse have some concerns about PHRs. PHRs may not necessarily be private and may not be secure, despite what the hosting site tells you.

Protecting Your Social Security Number at Tax Time


Identity thieves want your Social Security number (SSN) so they can assume your identity and commit fraud. Around tax time, protecting your SSN takes on even greater importance. The Information Returns that you receive (Forms W-2 and 1099) as well as your IRS income tax return (Form 1040) will all contain your SSN. Each of these forms, if not handled properly, presents an opportunity for your SSN to be used fraudulently.

Valentine e-Cards May Deliver More Than Just Love!


With Valentine's Day upon us, you may be receiving so-called "e-cards" in your email inbox. Some may come from anonymous senders or secret admirers. They might appeal to your curiosity and cause you to click on a link, claiming that the e-card is from a family member, friend, or other unnamed person.

Will I Be Able to Return That Unwanted Holiday Gift? The Retail Equation (formerly The Return Exchange)


When a consumer wants to make a return, the retailer will swipe the person’s driver’s license (or other government-issued ID). As customers return merchandise, The Retail Equation compares variables such as return frequency, dollar amounts and/or time against a set of rules that form the retailer’s return policy. If you make repeated returns or exchanges to a specific merchant, you may not be able to do so again at a later date.

Specialty Reports: What Have They Got on Me?


Most consumers know of their right to free annual credit reports from the three national credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax). But did you know that the same federal law that lets you see your credit reports entitles you to much more?he Fair Credit Reporting Act gives you the right to free copies of numerous so-called specialty consumer reports. These specialty reports provide information on such matters as your medical conditions, insurance claims, check writing history, rental history, and employment history.

The Privacy Implications of Cloud Computing


When users store their data with programs hosted on someone else's hardware, they lose a degree of control over their sensitive information. The responsibility for protecting that information from hackers and internal data breaches then falls into the hands of the hosting company rather than the individual user. Government investigators trying to subpoena information could approach that company without informing the data's owners. Some companies could even willingly share sensitive data with marketing firms. So there is a privacy risk in putting your data in someone else's hands. Obviously, the safest approach is to maintain your data under your own control.

Google Posts a Link to Its Privacy Policy from Its Home Page


On July 3, 2008, Google made an important change to its home page. It added a new link from the home page to its privacy center.  With just one seven-letter word, Google resolves the controversy over whether its previous practice ran afoul of California privacy law.

Consumer and Privacy Groups Urge Google to Post a Link to Its Privacy Policy from Its Home Page


A coalition of privacy and consumer organizations from California to Washington, D.C. have urged Google to post a prominent link on its homepage to its privacy policy. In a letter released June 3rd, 2008, the groups say this is required by California law and is the widespread practice of commercial web sites.

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