Protecting Your Privacy: Ways you can protect your privacy

  • Amy

We give out information so easily without thinking twice about it. Whether it is a form we are filling out for personal reasons or a contest, online shopping or in store shopping, and using social media. When you give out your information you want to make sure that both you and the organization you are giving your data to consider your privacy. We are talking about the way your personal information is collected, used, stored and protected and also is it shared with other organization and how are you able to determine how it is shared.

Many companies take steps to protect your personal information but did you know some actually may share or sell your information to another company? Have you even considered that if a company’s database is hacked what does that mean for you?

You should take steps to protect your privacy and control how your personal data is used.  

  • Ask companies how they will use your personal information. Don’t be afraid to ask and if the front desk person doesn’t know ask them to forward your question to someone who knows.
  • Find out how your personal information will be stored and protected from hackers and data breaches. You want to take a proactive approach rather than reactive approach.
  • Read the privacy policies from companies that you interact with. Don't assume that they will provide the level of privacy that you want.
  • Look for privacy statements on websites, sales materials, and forms that you fill out. 
  • Only provide the purchase date, model and serial numbers, and your contact information on warranty registration forms.
  • Opt-out if you do not want the company to share your personal information with other companies.
  • Find out what protections an organization will put in place, such as free credit reports or credit monitoring, if your information was compromised in a data breach.
  • Change your password for your email account and for a company's customer portal, if the company reports that they have had a data breach. This one is very important as many people use the same password. That just means if there is a hack you risk not just information you shared with this organization but potentially all your account the hacker can get into.
  • Be careful about what you post on social media. Data brokers may scrape your online profile to create a consumer file about you and sell it to other companies, without your knowledge.
  • Use cash rather than electronic payment options, if you want to keep your purchase behavior private.
  • Beware of using free Wi-Fi in a store. These networks may not be secured and retailers can track your behavior in the store. 
  • Disable cookies when shopping online to prevent companies from tracking your online browsing habits.

Check with your state or local consumer agency to find out whether state laws help protect your privacy.