Will I Be Able to Return That Unwanted Holiday Gift? The Retail Equation (formerly The Return Exchange)


When a consumer wants to make a return, the retailer will swipe the person’s driver’s license (or other government-issued ID). As customers return merchandise, The Retail Equation compares variables such as return frequency, dollar amounts and/or time against a set of rules that form the retailer’s return policy. If you make repeated returns or exchanges to a specific merchant, you may not be able to do so again at a later date.

Specialty Reports: What Have They Got on Me?


Most consumers know of their right to free annual credit reports from the three national credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax). But did you know that the same federal law that lets you see your credit reports entitles you to much more?he Fair Credit Reporting Act gives you the right to free copies of numerous so-called specialty consumer reports. These specialty reports provide information on such matters as your medical conditions, insurance claims, check writing history, rental history, and employment history.

The Privacy Implications of Cloud Computing


When users store their data with programs hosted on someone else's hardware, they lose a degree of control over their sensitive information. The responsibility for protecting that information from hackers and internal data breaches then falls into the hands of the hosting company rather than the individual user. Government investigators trying to subpoena information could approach that company without informing the data's owners. Some companies could even willingly share sensitive data with marketing firms. So there is a privacy risk in putting your data in someone else's hands. Obviously, the safest approach is to maintain your data under your own control.

Google Posts a Link to Its Privacy Policy from Its Home Page


On July 3, 2008, Google made an important change to its home page. It added a new link from the home page to its privacy center.  With just one seven-letter word, Google resolves the controversy over whether its previous practice ran afoul of California privacy law.

“Pay As You Drive” Automobile Insurance: Recommendations for Guarding Personal Privacy


Along with the potential good to come from reduced driving through PAYD insurance, there is a real risk that insurers will base attractive premiums on consumers’ willingness to accept onboard devices that record much more than miles traveled. Depending on the technology used, devices installed on personal automobiles may track speed, location, duration of a trip, acceleration and deceleration, time of day the trip was made, the identity of the driver, use of mobile phones and more. Once installed, a device originally set to track one driving element may be altered to add additional functions.

Consumer and Privacy Groups Urge Google to Post a Link to Its Privacy Policy from Its Home Page


A coalition of privacy and consumer organizations from California to Washington, D.C. have urged Google to post a prominent link on its homepage to its privacy policy. In a letter released June 3rd, 2008, the groups say this is required by California law and is the widespread practice of commercial web sites.

Spring Cleaning Your Personal and Financial Records


Now that tax season is over, many people are wondering which personal and financial records they need to save for tax and other purposes. Some of us are packrats and like to save everything forever. Others can't wait to discard unwanted papers.

So what's the best way to decide whether to save or discard a record? Here are a few tips and information sources to help you decide what records you need to keep and for how long.

Uses of Social Security Numbers in the Private Sector: Why SSNs Are Not Appropriate for Authentication


The SSN has evolved since its establishment in 1935 and implementation in 1936 to be used as both an identifier and an authenticator. 

This morning, we heard from a panel of experts on the use of the Social Security number as an identifier.  As an identifier, the SSN is provided by individuals to answer the question, “Who are you?” As an authenticator, the topic of this panel, the SSN is provided by individuals in response to a challenge: “Prove who you are.”

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