Sunday, July 20, 2008

Privacy Alert

Private companies are collecting your personal data like never before. Why be concerned? Because the information can hurt you. Fro example...
  • Loyalty Cards - Supermarkets and pharmacies offer discounts when you sign up for their loyalty cards. But every time you swipe your card, your purchases are recorded for marketing purposes.

Problem: These buying records are now being sold to life and health insurance companies, who use them to evaluate your rates based on your food and nonprescription drug purchases! You may be buying stuff for a friend or relative, but the database still logs you as the end user.

Self defense: Avoid giving your full name when you sign up fo a card. Many stores, including Safeway, let you sign up anonymously as "Store Customer."

  • E-Z Pass - E-ZPass technology was created to help speed traffic flow and decrease congestion at tollbooths. But several states now use this technology to issue speeding tickets-if you travel too quickly between tolls on a highway! In effect, you can get a speeding ticket even if you don't get caught speeding. What's more, E-ZPass records have been turned over to law enforcement to track people's whereabouts, and have been subpoenaed in civil lawsuits, including divorces.

Self-defense: Use your E-ZPass selectively. Remove it periodically and use cash at tollbooths. Or carry multiple E-ZPasses. And whenever the pass is not in use, make sure you keep it in your glove compartment in the special pouch that came with it.