Privacy Resolutions: Make 2007 Prosperous and Private!


We at the PRC wish you a happy, prosperous and private new year. For 2007, resolve to do what you can to guard against identity theft and stop unwanted intrusions via your mailbox, telephone, or fax machine. When it comes to privacy, there are no guarantees. But the following resolutions are a good way to start off the new year.

Contact the FTC: Speak Out about Pre-Recorded Telemarketing Calls


Did you put your telephone number on the national Do-Not-Call Registry (DNC), but still get sales calls from companies you’ve never heard of? Quite likely many unwanted sales calls you get today are not made by a live person. Instead many companies use auto-dialers, programmed to start a recorded message the minute you answer the phone. But, the calls that probably really get your dander up are the “dead air” calls, when you run to catch the phone but are met with silence.

Bogus E-Mail Message Impersonates Social Security Administration


The Agency has received several reports of an email message being circulated with the subject “Cost-of-Living for 2007 update” and purporting to be from the Social Security Administration. The message provides information about the 3.3 percent benefit increase for 2007 and contains the following “NOTE: We now need you to update your personal information. If this is not completed by November 11, 2006, we will be forced to suspend your account indefinitely.” The reader is then directed to a website designed to look like Social Security’s Internet website.

Your Cell Phone Can Continue Talking Even After You Get Rid of It


It may not seem like common sense to clean your trash before you throw it away, but with technology that is exactly what you should do. 

Before you sell, donate or trash your cell phone, make sure that your personal information has been permanently deleted.  For most phones, this means more than resetting the phone.  Although resetting the phone may appear to delete your information, recent reports suggest that software programs can retrieve the information if it was not properly deleted.

Keep Your Internet Searches Private


Internet users were shocked to learn that the search queries of over 600,000 individuals were exposed online by AOL recently. Although the personal names of AOL users had been replaced with numbers, apparently for a research project, reporters and others were able to determine the identities of several people. Ixquick, a search engine based in the Netherlands, promises it will permanently delete all users’ personal search details from its log files.

For a Complete Medical History, Compile Your Own Health Records but be Cautious about Storing Them Online


If you don't already keep a personal health record, now is the best time to start. Do not rely on your ability to go back in time to collate a complete medical file. The longer you wait, the more difficulty you may have in obtaining older health records.

The VA's Data Breach - Tips for Veterans and Action You Can Take under Federal Law


(May 23, 2006) Sensitive personal information of 26.5 million veterans was stolen recently when the home of a VA employee was robbed. The individual had brought a computer and disk home containing names, Social Security numbers (SSNs), dates of birth, and other information of anyone who served in the military and has been discharged since 1976. The theft apparently occurred May 3, 2006.

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