Protecting Your Privacy

Learn about protecting your personal information from unwanted use.

Protect Your Privacy

While many companies take steps to protect your personal information, there is no guarantee that it is protected to the degree that you'd like. Some companies may share or sell your information to other organizations. If a company's databases are hacked, you could be a victim of phishing scams or identity theft. Take steps to protect your privacy and control how your personal data is used:

  • Ask companies how they will use your personal information.
  • Find out how your personal information will be stored and protected from hackers and data breaches.
  • 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 if an organization offers free credit reports or credit monitoring, after 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.
  • Be careful about the personal information that you post on social media. 
  • Pay with cash to keep your purchase behavior private.
  • Beware of using free Wi-Fi in a store. These networks may not be secured and retailers can access your apps and browsing activity. 
  • 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. 

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Health Information Privacy

Know Your Rights

Personal information you give to your doctor is shared with insurance companies, pharmacies, researchers, and employers. Your health records are protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which:

  • Defines your health information rights
  • Sets rules and limits on who is allowed to receive and or see your health records

Protect Your Medical Privacy

Take steps to protect your health privacy:

  • Talk with your doctor about confidentiality concerns. 
  • Read the fine print on medical authorization forms. Check for clauses that allow your medical information to be released. 
  • Request a copy of your medical records so you know what's in them.
  • Report questions about medical privacy to the doctor, state office, or the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Read the privacy policy on health websites, surveys,  and health screenings.

Report Medical Privacy Violations

If your HIPAA Rights have been violated:

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Last Updated: September 10, 2018