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.

Prerecorded Telemarketing Calls: The Need for Industry Reform


VMBC petitioned the Commission to amend the TSR to allow prerecorded telemarketing calls to consumers when the caller has a claimed business relation. If accepted, an EBR exception for prerecorded sales calls would have created a major loophole, opening the door for a dramatic increase in unwanted calls to consumers who had placed their telephone numbers on the national Do-Not-Call (DNC) Registry.

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.

Identity Theft Red Flags and Address Discrepancies under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003


The detection of red flags and the need to reconcile address discrepancies are among the most important anti-identity theft measures included in FACTA. Effective business policies and practices that spot attempted and actual identity theft early have great potential for relieving this national crime wave. This was the promise and Congress’ intent when it directed the Agencies to adopt Red Flag Regulations along with procedures to reconcile address discrepancies in credit reports.

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.

Comments on HHS Request for Information: Voluntary Storage of Personal Data in Preparation for Emergencies


The notion of a 21st Century vault for storing personal data for emergency use has a great deal of initial appeal. However, just below the surface lurk multiple concerns about the ability of any existing system -- or even one that could be constructed -- to ensure the public has adequate data privacy and security.

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