On August 14, 2015, Lisa Weintraub Schifferle, an attorney with the Federal Trade Commission’s Division of Consumer and Business Education posted an open invitation on the FTC website:
Want privacy? Tell us about it!
Did a company share your personal information without your knowledge or consent? The FTC wants to know. And we’ve made it easier for you to report privacy-related complaints.
Just go to the FTC’s Complaint Assistant and click the banner that says: “Concerned about how a company is handling your personal information? Click here to report privacy concerns.”
What should you report? Your family reading your diary? No. Identity theft or data breaches? Go to identitytheft.gov instead. A company collecting or sharing your information without asking? That’s what we’re talking about. Here are examples of privacy complaints you might make:
- Your location or age shows up where you didn’t expect it. You share your resume online with what you think is a small group, and then find it elsewhere – complete with your age, which you didn’t want strangers to know. Or you post a photo, and then your location appears publicly. Now, everyone knows exactly where you are.
- A company knows more about you than you expected. You start getting ads for maternity clothes when you haven’t signed up for them. Maybe another company shared some pretty key information about you. If you thought that information was private and can identify the company that shared it, let us know.
- Your friends are getting invitations from you – that you didn’t send. An online group you joined starts sending invitations to your friends. But you didn’t give permission for them to be contacted. Maybe a company is accessing your contact list without permission.
Tell the FTC whenever your information is shared – and you didn’t want it to be. Also, consider these tips:
- On social network sites, check your privacy settings. It’s safest to allow only friends to view your information, not friends of friends or the public.
- On your mobile phone, turn off geo-location services until needed. Otherwise, apps may use your location information when you don’t realize it.
The FTC’s website has more information on consumer privacy.
Read the companion post: Do Hackers Have Your Stolen Data? Find Out