Top 10 Tips to Protect Your Privacy

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) recommends the following 10 tips to protect your privacy.


1. Monitor your credit report – look for errors and fraud. You have the right to one free credit report per year from each of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Order one report every four months so that you can monitor your credit reports on an ongoing basis. Learn more by reading PRC's Fact Sheet 6.


2. Reduce unwanted telemarketing phone calls. Register with the National Do Not Call Registry. If you receive a call from a company with which you do business, ask to be placed on its internal "Do Not Call List." Learn more by reading PRC's Fact Sheet 5.


3. Protect the personal information on your smartphone. Smartphone users are 33% more likely to become a victim of identity theft than non-users. Password-protect your smartphone and use the security lockout feature so that the phone automatically locks after a certain amount of time not in use. Learn more by reading PRC's Fact Sheet 2b.


4. Secure your computer and portable devices. Use up-to-date anti-virus and anti-malware programs and firewalls. Encrypt sensitive information before storing or sending. Make sure that all of your software is current and patched. Learn more by reading PRC's Fact Sheet 36.


5. Practice good password hygiene with your online accounts. Do not use the same password for multiple accounts. Instead, use strong passwords that are unique to each account. This is particularly important for your most sensitive online accounts (for example, your banking, email, and social networking accounts). Learn more by reading PRC's Fact Sheet 18.


6. Be aware of online data brokers. There are hundreds of websites that publish your personal information (for example, your address, phone number, and date of birth) for anyone to see. Data brokers get your information from public records and other sources. Ask your congressional representatives and state attorney general to regulate the online data broker industry. Learn more by reading PRC's Online Information Brokers and Your Privacy.


7. Use the "front page" rule on social networks. Don't post anything online that you wouldn't mind seeing on the front page of the newspaper. Use privacy settings to control who sees your posts, but keep in mind that even the strongest privacy settings won't prevent someone from re-sharing what you posted. Learn more by reading PRC's Fact Sheet 35.


8. Don't use a debit card. Debit cards offer less legal protection than credit cards in the event of fraudulent purchases. A lost, stolen, or otherwise compromised debit card can result in your bank account being wiped out by a thief, without using your PIN number. Use a credit card instead and ask your bank to replace your debit card with an "ATM only" card. Learn more by reading PRC's Fact Sheet 32.


9. Reduce your junk mail. Remove yourself from as many national mailing lists as possible by registering for the Direct Marketing Association's Mail Preference Service. You must renew your registration after three years. Learn more by reading PRC's Fact Sheet 4.


10. Safeguard your Social Security number (SSN). Keep your Social Security card and other documents that contain your SSN in a safe and secure location. Push back when companies ask for your SSN. Ask them to explain their authority for requiring it, and what the consequences are if you do not provide it. Learn more by reading PRC's Fact Sheet 10.


For additional tips, read PRC’s Fact Sheet 1: Privacy Survival Guide: Take Control of Your Personal Information.