Are the Businesses You Frequent or Work for Exposing You to an Identity Thief?

When we think about data breaches, we often worry about malicious-minded computer hackers exploiting software flaws, or perhaps Internet criminals seeking to enrich themselves at our expense. But the truth is that errors and negligence within the workplace are a significant cause of data breaches that compromise sensitive personal information.

Thus, a critical starting point for preventing future security breaches (and the identity theft that can follow) is developing ironclad policies and practices for handling personal information from within the workplace.

A New Year for Privacy: The PRC Launches Online Complaint Center

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) is proud to announce the launch of an interactive online complaint center designed to serve as a clearinghouse for consumer privacy complaints.  This builds upon our 19-year history of troubleshooting consumers’ complaints and questions regarding a wide variety of information privacy issues, including background checks, debt collection, data breaches, financial information, and online data brokers. The PRC's staff will review and respond to every complaint, providing individuals with information and strategies to address their problem.

Data Breaches: A Year in Review

2011 was a significant year for data security, with some of the biggest data breaches in our history reported. So far in 2011, we’ve tracked 535 breaches involving 30.4 million sensitive records. This brings the total reported records breached in the U.S. since 2005 to the alarming number of 543 million.

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has been tracking breaches since 2005 and publishes aChronology of Data Breaches. The Chronology counts the number of records leaked that contain information useful to identity thieves, such as Social Security numbers, financial account numbers, driver's license numbers – and in some states, medical information.

Read our list of the top half dozen most significant data breaches in 2011.

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 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

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.

Facial Recognition is a Threat to Your Privacy

Imagine you’re walking down the street and a stranger snaps your photo with his smartphone. He uses a facial recognition app and within minutes, he knows your name, age, where you were born, and your Social Security number. Think it’s a scene from the movie Minority Report? Think again.

Facial recognition technology – especially as the technology becomes more sophisticated – may be one of the gravest privacy threats of our time.

Bogus Group Falsely Claims Signing Ballot Petitions Puts You at Risk for Identity Theft

[California-specific] A new 60-second radio ad airing in southern California is using fear tactics in an attempt to stop voters from signing ballot measure petitions.  The ad purports that giving your name and address to petition campaigners amounts to an “identity theft starter kit.” 

“The threat claimed in these ads is totally false. Social Security numbers are the keys to identity theft.  And obviously those are not collected by petition gatherers,” states Beth Givens, director of Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.


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