Check Out of Your Checking Account

Is your bank starting to charge you monthly fees for your formerly free checking account? Has a large, impersonal bank taken over the smaller bank that you were used to? Do you visit your local branch for service, and receive a sales pitch for products that you do not want? For these and other reasons, many consumers have become dissatisfied with their banking arrangements. If you are unhappy with your current bank, this alert will help you navigate the issues involved in switching your checking account to a new financial institution.

Comments to FTC: Collection of a Deceased Person's Debt

On October 8, 2010, the FTC announced a policy regarding debt collectors’ communications with third parties regarding a decedent’s debt. In this, the FTC expands the numbers of individuals a collector may contact when the debtor is deceased. We urge the Commission to reconsider this policy or at a minimum to offer guidance for individuals who may be contacted by a collector about a deceased consumer’s debt. We further urge the Commission to reconsider its policy regarding no enforcement for deceased debtor contacts.

Caremark Reportedly Shares Confidential Prescription Information to Steer Business to CVS Pharmacies

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) has persistently challenged the health care industry’s improper use and disclosure of confidential medical information, which in many instances is used to market new or additional medication to patients. PRC has become aware that Caremark, a CVS owned company and one of the country’s largest pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), is improperly sharing prescription information with CVS to steer pharmacy patients to CVS pharmacies.

Comments to California Dept. of Public Health: Medical Information Breach Regulations

Consumers enter a hospital or another care facility in California should not have to worry that their health and financial data might end up on a social networking website, in the tabloids, in a dumpster, or in the hands of an identity thief. Yet, instances of the breach of healthcare data in California continue at an alarming pace.

Online Reputation Management - What Every Jobseeker Should Know

In today’s digital world, false or unflattering information attached to your name could haunt you for years.  For jobseekers competing in a tough economy, an unprofessional online presence could be a hindrance to landing a good job.  More employers are using the Internet to learn about job candidates, with a recent Microsoft survey showing that 70% of hiring managers have rejected a job applicant because of information posted online. 

Some jobseekers are turning to Online Reputation Management (ORM) firms to help them improve their digital personas.  Before you pay for an ORM service, be aware that ORM firms do not have the ability to remove unflattering information from the Internet any more than you do. If you are willing to invest the time, you can manage your own online reputation at little or no cost.

Scare Away Scammers

Most people are aware of the dangers posed by scams that claim to be originating from a business.  But what if you receive an e-mail, phone call, or letter claiming to come from a government agency?  Many consumers are likely to assume that such communications are legitimate because they appear to come from the government.

Unfortunately, these types of scams do occur.  Communications may claim to be from the IRS, the Social Security Administration, Medicare, your local Commissioner of Jurors, or other government agencies.  Learn about some of the recents scams and what you should do to avoid becoming a victim.

LifeLock Customers to Receive Refunds

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that customers of LifeLock's identity theft protection services will be receiving refunds as part of a settlement with the company. Since 2006, LifeLock has advertised that it could prevent identity theft for consumers willing to sign up for its $10-a-month service. However, the fraud alerts that LifeLock placed on its customers’ credit files protected only against certain forms of identity theft. Yesterday’s FTC announcement about LifeLock confirms that consumers should use caution and common sense before paying for identity theft monitoring services.

Third Privacy Roundtable - Comments Submitted to Federal Trade Commission on Sensitive Personal Information

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) respectfully submits the following comments to the Federal Trade Commission for its consideration in the third Privacy Roundtable, to be held March 17, 2010. 

In addressing the FTC’s question regarding what information is considered sensitive, we draw primarily from the PRC’s records of consumer complaints. Two general observations are:

  • The type of information consumers consider to be sensitive varies widely.
  • Even directory information – names, addresses, and phone numbers – is considered to be extremely sensitive to a significant number of individuals.

 

The Privacy Problems Inherent in the Smart Grid

The infrastructure that will support the Smart Grid will be capable of informing consumers of their day-to-day energy use, right down to the appliance level.  This sophisticated infrastructure has the potential to curb greenhouse gas emissions and reduce consumers’ energy bills.  However, it introduces the possibility of collecting detailed information on individual energy consumption usage and patterns within consumers’ homes, traditionally the most private of places.  Industry and regulators must take great care not to sacrifice consumer privacy in the process of developing and implementing the Smart Grid. 

 

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