Privacy seems to be an increasingly rare commodity. How often do we hear about security breaches that expose our personal information to some bad actor somewhere? It seems almost every day.
LastPass, the password security app (ironically enough), Chick-fil-A and Twitter have had security failures recently (like in the last few weeks).
And even if you win one Billion dollar lottery, only a few states allow you to remain anonymous. You can’t even buy privacy, it seems.
Big money = little privacy
Let’s say you just won a bazillion-dollar lottery, and everyone needs to know about it. Yes, of course, you’ll want to share the exciting news with your family and friends (yes?) but tell the world? yes
In most states, you can’t claim that jackpot anonymously.
Rules vary according to the prevailing laws in each state. Although the landscape changes often, at last count, only about a dozen states allow you to remain anonymous. Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia are among those that give you the option to keep the big news to yourself.
Almost every other state requires some form of identification for big winners. In California, state law requires disclosure of a winner’s full name and where they purchased the ticket. Maybe that’s why the $2 billion Powerball ticket winner from November still hasn’t come forward.
Some states will allow you to set up a trust to receive the payments, which can add a layer of privacy.
So, if you win the lottery, check your state’s laws to see if you have to wear a disguise and change your name after you cash in. Or, you can splash out the cash and head to Pitcairn Island in the South Pacific. Said to be one of the most secluded areas in the world, the island is home to only 50 people — but there’s high-speed internet.
You have to fly in all your friends, family and food, but hey, for you, the big winner, Cost is no object.
Your credit report for everyone to see
Ok, so the secret corner of the funny dream of winning the lottery. There are many privacy concerns associated with your credit score.
A Error on Experian’s website, one of the three major credit reporting companies, recently reported. According to Brian Krebs, a computer security reporter and blogger, identity thieves are retrieving the credit reports of an unknown number of consumers.
Apparently, a flaw allows anyone to bypass the normal security measures and access a consumer report. All that was required was a person’s name, address, birthday and Social Security number — items often available for a price on the dark web.
This month, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released an analysis of nearly half a million consumer complaints involving credit reporting bureaus — including Experian and Equifax and TransUnion. CFPB Director Rohit Chopra said credit bureaus “regularly top the list of complaints filed by consumers,” but the report also calls for improvements in the way complaints are handled and the frequency with which consumers are provided with relief.
The bureau said the three credit reporting agencies must continue to work to improve compliance with consumer financial protection laws and better serve consumers. “We will explore new rules to ensure they are following the law without cutting corners to fuel their profit model,” added Chopra.
Last year, the CFPB reported that credit reporting companies “often allow their processes to be used to force individuals to pay medical bills they may not owe.”
The CFPB said that once medical bills were placed in collections and submitted to credit reporting agencies, consumers saw their credit scores drop. Low scores become “weapons” collectors can use against people to pay. Some people were so frustrated that they simply gave in and paid, whether the amount was owed or not. They were desperate to end collection hassles and protect their credit from further damage.
This year, the credit bureaus will stop reporting medical debt collections under $500 and change Credit scoring model Unpaid medical debt will reduce the credit score impact.
False ‘junk data’ on credit reports
In the recently reported Experian credit report access hack, security reporter Krebs said that when he accessed his report using security flaw criminals, he found that his credit report had “so many errors that it’s probably going to take a lot of effort for me. . to straighten the part.”
In an October statement, the CFPB noted the prevalence of “obviously false ‘junk data'” in consumer credit reports. One example included the complaint of someone being “in default before birth”.
With recent breaches and security hacks in mind, you might want to:
Update your master password Password manager app (or get one if you don’t have one), and change passwords for any important financial websites you access.
Request your credit file annually from Creditreport.com, the government website that allows you to Access all three of your credit reports for free. Check for errors, then report to the appropriate bureau and make corrections.