The Times West Virginian

Community News Network

December 18, 2012

Privacy: 6 tips for protecting your personal information

Every day you share personal information about yourself with others. It’s so routine that you may not even realize you’re doing it. You may write a check at the grocery store, charge tickets to a ball game, rent a car, mail your tax returns, buy a gift online, call home on your cell phone, schedule a doctor’s appointment or apply for a credit card.

Each transaction requires you to share personal information: your bank and credit card account numbers; your income; your Social Security number (SSN); or your name, address, and phone numbers.

It’s important to find out what happens to the personal information you and your children provide to companies, marketers, and government agencies. These organizations may use your information simply to process your order; to tell you about products, services, or promotions; or to share with others.

Scoundrels abound

And then there are unscrupulous individuals, like identity thieves, who want your information to commit fraud. Identity theft -- the fastest-growing white-collar crime in America -- occurs when someone steals your personal identifying information, like your SSN, birth date, or mother’s maiden name, to open new charge accounts, order merchandise, or borrow money.

Consumers targeted by identity thieves usually don’t know they’ve been victimized. But when the fraudsters fail to pay the bills or repay the loans, collection agencies begin pursuing the consumers to cover debts they didn’t even know they had.

Staying safe

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) encourages you to make sure your transactions -- online and off -- are secure and your personal information is protected. The FTC offers these tips to help you manage your personal information wisely, and to help minimize its misuse:

  1. Before you reveal any personally identifying information, find out how it will be used and whether it will be shared with others. Ask about company’s privacy policy: Will you have a choice about the use of your information; can you choose to have it kept confidential?
  2. Read the privacy policy on any website directed to children. Websites directed to children or that knowingly collect information from kids under 13 must post a notice of their information collection practices.
  3. Put passwords on your all your accounts, including your credit card account, and your bank and phone accounts. Avoid using easily available information -- like your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your SSN, or your phone number -- or obvious choices, like a series of consecutive numbers or your hometown football team.
  4. Minimize the identification information and the number of cards you carry to what you’ll actually need. Don’t put all your identifying information in one holder in your purse, briefcase, or backpack.
  5. Keep items with personal information in a safe place. When you discard receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, bank checks and statements, expired charge cards, credit offers you get in the mail, and mailing labels from magazines, tear or shred them. That will help thwart any identity thief who may pick through your trash or recycling bins to capture your personal information.
  6. Order a copy of your credit report. Make sure it’s accurate and includes only those activities you’ve authorized. Each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies -- Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion -- are required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.

To order your free annual report from one or all national consumer reporting companies, visit www.annualcreditreport.com, call toll-free 1-877-322-8228, or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to:

Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

Story provided by ConsumerAffairs.

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 4.42.47 PM.png VIDEO: Leopard attacks crowd in India

    A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • The top 12 government programs ever

    Which federal programs and policies succeed in being cost-effective and targeting those who need them most? These two tests are obvious: After all, why would we spend taxpayers' money on a program that isn't worth what it costs or helps those who do not need help?

    April 22, 2014

  • In cuffs... 'Warlock' in West Virginia accused of sexual assault

    Police in West Virginia say a man claiming to be a “warlock” used promises of magical spells to lure children into committing sexual acts with him.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cats outsmart the researchers

    I knew a lot had been written about dogs, and I assumed there must be at least a handful of studies on cats. But after weeks of scouring the scientific world for someone - anyone - who studied how cats think, all I was left with was this statement, laughed over the phone to me by one of the world's top animal cognition experts, a Hungarian scientist named Ádám Miklósi.

    April 22, 2014

  • McCain 1 House Republicans are more active on Twitter than Democrats

    Your representative in the House is almost certainly on Twitter. Your senator definitely is. But how are they using the social network? Are Democrats more active than Republicans, or vice versa? Who has the most followers on the Hill?

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Do your genes make you procrastinate?

    Procrastinators, in my experience, like nothing better than explaining away their procrastination: General busyness, fear of failure, and simple laziness are just a handful of the excuses and theories often tossed around. Now researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder have added another option to the list: genetics.

    April 21, 2014

  • Do White Castle prices tell us anything about the minimum wage?

    The paper looked at how many delicious steamed sliders the minimum wage has been able to purchase over time. The point is that as it notes, in 1981, the $3.35 minimum could buy a whole dozen. Today, at $7.25, it could purchase just 10.

    April 21, 2014

  • VIDEO: Moose charges snowmobile, flees after warning shot

    While snowmobiling in New England, Bob and Janis Powell of Maine were charged by a moose and caught the entire attack on camera.

    April 21, 2014

  • Can Hillary Clinton rock the cradle and the world?

    What's most interesting to contemplate is the effect becoming a grandmother will have on Hillary's ambition. It's one of life's unfairnesses that a woman's peak career years often coincide with her peak childbearing years.

    April 21, 2014

  • Smartphone kill switches are coming

    Smartphones need kill switches. It's a relatively easy solution to the pricey (and irritating) problem of smartphone theft. But who would have thought that the big carriers would team up with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and lots of other manufacturers to voluntarily begin adding the technology by July 2015? The cooperative spirit! It makes so much sense!

    April 18, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads