Almost every day we share personal information about ourselves with others. Think about when you write a check, charge game tickets, 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.
What happens to the personal information you provide to companies, marketers and government agencies? It’s possible that these organizations could use your information to process your order; to tell you about products, services, or promotions; or to share with others.
One step further… what about the 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. It’s not uncommon for consumers targeted by con artists to be unaware that they've been victimized. Most people find out when they’re contacted by collection agencies pursuing the consumers to cover debts they didn't even know they had.
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:
For More Information
To learn more about more about privacy issues and how they affect your life and the decisions you may make in the marketplace, visit www.consumer.gov.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.