This Holiday Season, Shop Safely and Know Your Privacy Rights
Our privacy rights have been the subject of many recent news stories that have exposed how easy it is for our personal information to be stolen through data breaches and hacks. With the holidays approaching, many of us are doing our share of online and in-store shopping. As someone with a long-standing record of fighting for consumer rights, I wanted to pass along these tips to help prevent identity theft and protect your personal information:
- When shopping online, shop securely. One way to tell if a website is secure is the presence of a yellow padlock icon in or accessible through the browser bar. Another indicator is 'https' in the web address. Avoid making purchases in free Wi-Fi hotspots, such as in a coffee shop, which can put your information at risk. Never send sensitive information, such as your social security or bank account number, through email.
- Review your bank and credit card statements frequently. Check for unusual transactions that could indicate suspicious activity, and contact your bank or credit card company promptly if you do.
- Know your privacy protections. When you make a purchase with a credit card at a brick-and-mortar store in California, employees are not permitted to ask you for information such as your home address, zip code, phone number, or email address. Providing this information may compromise your privacy and allow merchants to collect your information or target you with marketing materials. An exception to this allows the collection of zip codes for purchasing gas at the pump for fraud prevention.
- Combat identity theft by checking your credit report annually. California consumers have the right to a free credit report once a year. Checking your credit report allows you to see if someone has made purchases or opened unauthorized accounts in your name. Find out more about getting your free credit report here.
For more information on protecting your privacy and preventing identity theft, or what to do if you are a victim of identity theft, go to the Attorney General's website.
If you have any comments or thoughts, contact me by email, or follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
Wishing you a wonderful - and safe - holiday shopping season!
Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson
State Senator, 19th Senate District