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 California State University, Fullerton



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Personal information, like any other product, can be bought and sold, often without your consent. In many routine transactions, people don't think twice about revealing a great deal of personal information such as their name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, and other information which can then be sold to telemarketers. Companies will often use the information you have provided simply to process your order and complete your transaction. However, they frequently assume there is an "implied consent" with regards to the use of your personal information, meaning that your "silence is consent" for them to use your data however they want, unless you tell them otherwise. Many companies do inform their customers about their privacy policies so that they will be aware of how their personal information will be used and with whom it may be shared or even sold. If you haven't already taken the time to read the privacy policies that your credit card company, your bank, or other companies have sent to you, do it. It's not just trash and you may be surprised at what you learn. Remember it's your personal information that is being bought and sold, so you may want to speak up if you don't agree with a particular company's use of your information for their own gain.

About Your Privacy

Unfortunately, it's not just those annoying telemarketers that you may want to safeguard your information from; you will also want to protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft. Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America-- 12.6 million U.S. adult victims in 2012, or one victim every three seconds, it can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or economic status. Basically there are two types of identity theft. The first is account takeover which happens when someone gets your existing account information and uses that account, or accounts, to make purchases. The second is "true name" fraud which happens when someone gains access to your personal information, such as your social security number, and uses it to fraudulently open new accounts. Personal information that you would want to be particularly careful to protect because of its value to an identity thief include:

  • Social Security Number

  • Driver's license

  • Credit card information

  • Bank account information

  • Mother's maiden name

  • Home address and phone number

  • Any other information that helps an impostor pretend to be you

Additional Resources

Financial Privacy Fact Sheet

California Laws

Consumer Privacy