Census Scams -- You Can Count on It

Now that the April 1st mail-in deadline has passed, Census employees are expected to make home visits to those individuals who did not return their Census forms.  Census workers will begin visiting private homes on May 1st.  Be careful. Scam artists posing as Census workers may engage in a number of tactics to collect personal information about you to commit fraud.  Typically, scammers will seek to obtain information such as your Social Security number or financial information.  Don’t fall for the trap!  At Census time and throughout the year, guard your personal information carefully. 

If you are not certain of the legitimacy of a request for information from the Census or any other organization, ask questions.  Do not provide any personal information until you have verified the identity of the requester. Read our tips so that you don’t fall prey to a scammer.

Shred It, Don't Forget It!

With tax season ending, do you ever wonder what to do with your personal and financial records? Which ones do you need to save for tax or other purposes? While some people like to save things forever, others want to immediately toss out unnecessary clutter.

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

The Proliferation of Online Information Brokers and Reports of Abuses of Consumer Privacy

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) appreciates the opportunity to submit the following comments on the online information broker industry to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as part of the agency’s deliberations for the Privacy Roundtables series.

The online information broker industry has come to the forefront of consumer privacy issues in recent years. Information brokers are companies that compile information on individuals via public, semi-public and private records and offer this information via online “lookup” services, often with no questions asked. Some charge a fee while others provide their services at no charge. Consumers who are attempting to limit the availability of their personal information, due to concerns about privacy, safety or identity theft, have lodged numerous complaints against this industry with the PRC over the years.

Attend the Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference

Computers, Freedom and Privacy in a Networked Society is currently taking place in San Jose, CA .  Privacy professionals as well as the general public have been invited to hear expert speakers, attend panel discussions and learn about the impact of emerging technologies on individual liberties and personal privacy.

In its twentieth year, CFP is the leading policy conference exploring the impact of the Internet, computers and communications technology on society.  This year offers an exceptionally strong program.  Speakers include consumer privacy experts such as PRC's own Beth Givens and other advocates, as well as industry representatives Google's David Drummond and Microsoft's Peter Cullen. 

Even if you aren't in San Jose, you can still take part in the conference. Visit www.cfp2010.org to watch live broadcasts of the events, follow along via Twitter using the #cfpconf hashtag, or visit the conference Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cfpconf.

On Friday June 18th, partipants in the CFP Conference and online will be voting to adopt a Social Networking Bill of Rights. Contribute your ideas to the process via Twitter, Facebook and blog posts. Read more here: http://cfp.acm.org/wordpress/?p=341 and http://www.facebook.com/CFPBillOfRights.  Also contribute via Twitter using the #billofrights hashtag.

What You Should Know About Credit Repair Companies

If you’re losing sleep over bad credit, ads promising a quick fix can seem like a dream come true. But, hook up with the wrong company and your dreams of clean credit can quickly turn into a living nightmare.

While the economy has faltered in recent years, credit repair companies have flourished. As is often the case, hard times for consumers create opportunities for scammers. An unscrupulous credit repair company may collect upfront fees, may make you pay for things you can get for free or may even persuade you to break the law.

If you are knee-deep in debt and thinking about a credit repair service, read out guide to find out how to recognize a dishonest credit repair service.

Disclosure Accounting: Comments Submitted to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights

 In adopting the final HIPAA Privacy Rule (Privacy Rule) in 2003, OCR included a section outlining a patient’s right to receive an accounting of protected health information (PHI) disclosures. As adopted, however, the Privacy Rule includes many exceptions to the kinds of data that must be included in an accounting, one of which is that an accounting need not tell patients about disclosures made for treatment, payment, and healthcare operations.

Summer Vacation - A Privacy and Identity Theft Primer

When you travel, your risk of exposure to fraud and identity theft may increase. It’s a fact that people tend to let their guard down while on vacation.  Identity theft is often a crime of opportunity.  Don’t be a vacationer who presents a thief with that opportunity.  Your personal information, credit and debit cards, driver’s license, passport, and other personal information are the criminal’s target. By spending a few minutes planning before you travel, you can help reduce the risk that a thief will ruin your vacation.  You can also help avoid unnecessary problems with your financial institution. Here are some tips for an enjoyable vacation.

Top 8 Things You Shouldn't Give Social Networking Sites

While websites like Facebook and MySpace make it easy to share vacation photos with old classmates, the personal information on social networks is also attracting people besides friends and family members.  Scam artists, identity thieves, debt collectors, stalkers, hiring managers, and companies looking for a marketing advantage are turning to social networking sites to gather valuable information. Before you publish your next status update, take care that you aren’t risking your identity, security or reputation.

Below are eight things you shouldn’t give to a social network – when signing up for an account, posting content or interacting with your contacts through the network.

The New Year’s Biggest Privacy Risks

Many Americans are wrapping up a holiday season filled with online shopping, Facebook status updates, and gifts of smartphones and eBook readers. Now that the New Year is upon us, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse is urging Americans to pay attention to the privacy risks that accompany these trending technologies.

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