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.