10 Tips for Safe and Private Holiday Shopping

As the holidays approach, consumers are more likely to be visiting crowded stores and malls.  Scam artists and fraudsters know this, so they are likely to be lurking there too.  Privacy Rights Clearinghouse is pleased to offer these helpful tips to protect yourself during this often hectic holiday season.

The Case of the Disappearing Check: What is Electronic Check Conversion?

Electronic check conversion may be used when you make purchases in person at a store or when you mail a check to pay your credit card, utility or mortgage account payment. Either way, the growing use of electronic check conversion means you have to be more diligent than ever about tracking your payments and correcting errors in your account. When checks are processed electronically, your rights, remedies, and potential losses are governed by the federal Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) Act. This is the same law that governs your ATM and debit card transactions.

Junk Faxes: They Are Now OK with a "Business" Relationship

Until recently, the law on fax advertising was simple and straightforward: No one could send a fax advertisement without your prior consent. Of course, this did not stop the deluge of unwanted faxes touting hot stocks, mortgage offers, and vacation deals. Now, adding to the frustration, Congress has created an exception for fax advertisements sent when you have an “established business relationship,” or EBR, with the sender.

An Increase in Employee Background Checks Strains an Already Weak (Flint)

Two easily identifiable problems with the increased use of background checks are the potential for errors and past mistakes haunting people for far too long.  But, in addition to these problems, there are societal concerns about lack of privacy, ceding judgment to a computer database, and potential over-reliance on a person’s past behavior.

Spam E-mails Using PRC's Address

It has come to our attention that spammers have been using the @privacyrights.org email address to send fake emails (spam). These emails do NOT come from PRC. They are forgeries. They will show the sender as a fake person that is NOT affiliated with PRC. The address will appear as FakeUser@privacyrights.org.

Phishing: A Real-Life Experiment with Troubling Results

Last week I received a Bank of America phishing email. Nothing out of the ordinary in that. If I have a spare moment, I usually look to see if the phishing site is still up, then do a DNS lookup and blast off an email to let the site owner know of the scam.

Well, last week's phishing was particularly sophisticated.

It's Tax Time. Take These Extra Precautions with Your Mail

During the month of January, check your mailbox for information notices from organizations that have made taxable payments to you during the previous year. While these information notices are essential for preparing your taxes, they also are a treasure trove for identity thieves. A typical information notice has your non-truncated Social Security number as well as the name of your employer, your bank, mutual fund, or stock broker.

Pharmacies Profiting At Your Expense: Your Help Is Requested

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) has been in the forefront in asserting that pharmacies -- and their marketing partners, the big pharmaceutical companies -- act improperly when using the medical information in customer prescriptions to mail letters or call customers in order to sell more drugs.

If this happened to you or someone in your family, please let us know.  It could be very helpful to the outcome of the lawsuit.

Social Security Numbers in the Private Sector: Comments to the FTC

Consumers often are coerced into providing an SSN as a means of authentication or verification, where appropriate authentication could be achieved through other means.  Our PRC consumer hotline receives numerous calls from concerned individuals who are reluctant to provide this information either by telephone or online.  They have heard the warnings about guarding their SSNs to protect themselves from identity theft.  Yet paradoxically, they are afraid to take advantage of two important services that can help reduce their potential exposure to identity theft.

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