Data Breaches: Why You Should Care and What You Should Do

Have you been hearing the term “data breach” in the news a lot recently? That’s because there has been a string of sensational breaches from corporate giants like Sony, Epsilon, Citigroup, and Lockheed Martin. A data breach is when a company inadvertently leaks your personal information as a result of a hack attack, lost or stolen computers, fraud, insider theft, and more. Privacy Rights Clearinghouse explains how to follow the breaches, why consumers should be concerned and what to do if a data breach happens to you.

Summer Vacation: 6 Tips to Protect Your Privacy

For thousands of families across America, summer vacation is right around the corner. And thieves know it. According to the FBI, crime rates rise about 10% during summer months. The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse urges you to stay safe by following these six privacy tips.

Privacy Experts Panel at UCSD, May 11

Digital Underground
Great Hall, International House
University of California San Diego
Wednesday, May 11, 2011, 7 PM


Join the ACLU of San Diego, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation for an informal panel discussion about how technology is changing our relationship to privacy and what you can do to safeguard your civil liberties in the digital world.

It’s Tax Day! Now, What to Do with All Those Records?

Today is Tax Day, the last day to file your federal income tax return with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You’ve spent the last several weeks collecting sensitive financial documents and now you’re probably wondering what to do with them. Financial documents may contain information, such as your Social Security number, that you should keep private in order to prevent identity theft. Therefore, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has compiled a guide on document retention and destruction tips to help protect your privacy.

Mark Your Calendars: CFP2011

Mark your calendars for the 21st annual Computers, Freedom & Privacy (CFP) conference, June 14-16, 2011 in Washington, D.C. at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C.

Register online at http://www.regonline.com/Register/Checkin.aspx?EventID=944943.  For more information, visit http://www.cfp.org/2011/.

How to Choose an Identity Theft Monitoring Service

If you’re thinking about purchasing identity theft monitoring services, there is now a “shopping guide” that will help you choose the best service for you. The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) participated in a task force hosted by the Consumer Federation of America to develop a set of guidelines for the identity theft monitoring industry. Members of the task force, which included industry, consumer, and government representatives, researched the industry for 16 months and recently published Best Practices for Identity Theft Services (PDF). The report provides a blueprint for what identity theft monitoring services should be doing.

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.

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.

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.

Smartphone Privacy: YouTube Video and Tips for Consumers

Smartphones store a tremendous amount of personal information. If your smartphone were lost or stolen, what information would someone be able to access?

  • Photos – Do you have photos on your smartphone that you wouldn't want your boss or certain friends or family to see? Do your photos reveal where you've been because you have the camera's GPS feature turned on? 

  • Emails – Do you sync your personal and/or work email accounts on your phone? Are archived and sent messages accessible? How far back do they go? 

  • Banking – Do you have apps installed that provide direct access to your banking account information? Is it possible to transfer money through the app? 

  • Social Networking – Do you have apps installed that provide direct access to your social networking accounts, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn? 

  • Notes – Do you have any apps where you store notes or documents? Do any of those notes contain your Social Security number, medical information or financial account numbers?

The last in our short-film series, Smartphones: Protect Your Data explores the privacy implications of smartphones and offers practical tips to protect your privacy. In the 5-minute video, a college student named Josh misplaces his phone. Josh and his friend, Ashley, search for the phone, but can't find it. He becomes increasingly alarmed when he realizes what's at stake. Watch the video to see what happens.

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