Protecting Your Privacyin the Information AgeWhat every consumer should know aboutthe use of individual informationBetter Connections. Better Results.

Table of contentsConcerned about your privacy in the information age? So are we. . . . . . . 1How can I protect my privacy? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2Where do companies get my name?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3What kind of information is available?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4Why do they want to know so much about me? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6Does the use of personal information benefit me? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7What are the risks from information exchanges? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10How can I protect myself from identity fraud?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12Should I worry about security breaches? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14How can I prevent unwanted calls from telemarketers? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15How can I prevent junk mail? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17How can I stop email “spam”? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18Can I stop companies I do business with from soliciting me?. . . . . . . . . . 19Can I stop companies from tracking my activities online. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19How can I control publicly available information about me? . . . . . . . . . . . 20Where can I learn more?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21Useful terms to understand. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25Our privacy commitment to you . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 263

Protecting Your Privacy in the Information AgeConcerned about your privacyin the information age? So are we.At Acxiom, we provide consumer information to responsible companiesall around the world. Obviously, we have a stake in the issue ofconsumer privacy. We also know, however, that consumers need certainprotections — and that there is some information that should remainprivate and confidential.To help you better understand this subject, we’ve produced this booklet.Among other things, it explains some of the ways businesses, charities,Internet sites and other organizations use the consumer information weprovide. You may be surprised at all the ways information can directlyand indirectly benefit you and your family. There is a lot of misinformationin the news and on the Internet about the risks posed by the uses ofinformation about you. This booklet is intended to help you understandthe benefits and the risks in today’s Information Age.Some of the terminology about privacy issues that is commonly used canbe confusing. It may be helpful to review or refer to the section at the endof this booklet “Useful Terms to Understand” when you encounter a termyou don’t completely understand.We’ve included information about how you can have your name removedfrom telemarketing solicitations, direct mail promotions, email marketingand set your browser to block the cookie setting that companies use topersonalize your online experience on the Internet should you chooseto do so. We’ve also included information on how to assure informationabout you in public sources is correct.The Information Age brings you plenty of benefits, but also createssome new risks. The loss of your privacy doesn’t have to be one of them.Acxiom believes the more informed you are about the uses of individualinformation, the less you have to fear — and the more you can enjoythe many advantages afforded by the appropriate use and exchangeof information.1

Protecting Your Privacy in the Information AgeHow can I protect my privacy?Although it’s a surprise to many, the Information Age is not as riskyas some would lead you to believe. Consumers have a number ofprotections routinely provided. It is important for you to learn about theseprotections and how to exercise the options that are offered to you.NoticeReputable companies will tell you what information they collect andmaintain, how it is being used and when it is being shared with otherparties. This is usually done in the form of a “Privacy Policy.” Youcan view the privacy policy of most companies on their website or bycontacting the company and asking for a copy. Companies who do notpost or provide a privacy policy should be given extra scrutiny.ChoiceMost companies will give you some choices regarding the use anddissemination of personal information about you. Some of these choicesare outlined later in this booklet. If the company provides informationabout you to third parties for their marketing uses, you should be givena chance to “opt-out.” This means you can request the company notprovide information about you to third parties for marketing purposes.Access and accuracyOrganizations should maintain appropriate procedures that ensure theinformation they use about you for important or substantive decisionsis accurate. You should be able to access such information if you feelit may not be accurate and have erroneous information corrected,updated or removed.SecurityYou should reasonably expect that information about you will beprotected from unauthorized access and use. Organizations shouldmaintain effective security systems to protect against such occurrences.There are a lot of reported security breaches in the news which canbe concerning. More information about your risks relative to securitybreaches is provided in the section “Should I Worry about SecurityBreaches?” on page 14.2

Protecting Your Privacy in the Information AgeAwarenessThere are a lot of resources available to you should you have specificconcerns about your privacy. A number of sites where you can go areprovided in the section “Where Can I Learn More” on pages 21-24.Where do companies get my name?Organizations use information from a variety of sources for a varietyof reasons. You are familiar with some of them — such as businesseswanting to send you an offer, better understand their marketplace,develop new products and improve customer service. In other cases,companies use information to protect you and themselves from risksrelated to identity fraud.Most companies rent or buy lists of individuals who they believe arelikely to be interested in their products or services. They will use theselists to market to you either offline or online. These lists come from avariety of sources, including public records, telephone directories, andfrom companies who exchange or rent their customer file for marketingpurposes to other organizations who have a legitimate need for theinformation. The rental or exchange of customer files has been acommon practice for decades and does not pose a security risk to you.The exchange usually involves only the basic contact information andvery general information about your purchases. These lists are used tosend mail to you, call you, email or text you about special promotionsor offers. This enables a company to more effectively reach out toindividuals who are not customers but who might have an interest in orneed for their product or service.It is also a very common practice for a business or organization to createa marketing file of names, addresses and other information related totheir customers’ purchases. This information may include householdcharacteristics obtained from surveys you fill out or from generalcommunication with you.Marketing, however, is just one use for information about you. Earlydetection and prevention of fraud by verifying your identity is a seconduse that offers significant benefits to both you and businesses. Beingable to correctly recognize a customer, especially when transacting3

Protecting Your Privacy in the Information Agebusiness over the phone, on the Internet or via a mobile device, helpsreduce the chances you will become a victim of identity fraud. Identifyinginformation is commonly shared between companies and available frominformation providers like Acxiom to help businesses in reducing theincidence of fraud.There are also other uses of personal information you may not haveconsidered, such as courts tracing parents who fail to meet childsupport obligations, organ, blood and bone marrow donor groupsneeding accurate, up-to-date information about donors, law enforcementagencies apprehending criminals, attorneys searching for missingheirs or family members looking for lost relatives, to name just a few.All of these provide significant benefits to society as a whole andare permitted, or in some cases required, by various laws such asbackground screening for child care centers and school bus drivers.What kind of information is available?There is a variety of information available to businesses andorganizations. Most of it is non-sensitive, but some of it is sensitive.Public recordsCollected primarily from state and federal government sources,information about you may come from public records, includingproperty deeds, marriage and professional licenses, and birth anddeath records. Information is also available from court proceedings,voter registration files, drivers license records and motor vehicleregistrations. Various federal and state laws place restrictions on theuse of some of these sources.Publicly available informationSome information is considered in the public domain, meaning anyonehas access to it. This type of information includes telephone directorylistings, professional registries, classified ads, information posted in chatrooms, on blogs and in public sections or designated as public on socialnetwork sites. Publicly available information is not always regulatedby law, but responsible providers self-regulate its use through industrycodes of conduct.4

Protecting Your Privacy in the Information AgeCustomer informationThis is information that is collected when you provide information aboutyourself to an organization when you inquire about a product, makea donation, make a purchase, register a product warranty or receivea service. This information includes details you provide about howto contact you and a record of your interactions with the company ororganization. This information is regulated in some cases by law andin other cases by industry practice. In addition to this, responsibleorganizations develop their own policies to assure appropriate useof the information.Self-reported informationInformation you voluntarily provide on a survey or questionnaire isconsidered self-reported. When this type of information is collected, youshould be informed of the intended uses and your options for said use.Both law and industry practices limit the use of this information.Passively collected informationThe Internet and other technologies, like mobile devices with locationtracking features and interactive televisions, may collect informationabout you, or your device, without you having to take any action. In factin many cases you may not be aware any collection is taking place.Some of this collection is necessary to provide you a service such asrecording the number of times you go through the express lane of a tollbooth so you can be charged for the toll or when you’ve have had a carwreck and need help locating your car to send emergency assistance. Itcan also be used to provide you relevant advertising such as offering youa discount on a specialty coffee from a coffee shop you are near, or toprovide online advertising tailored to interests that have been identifiedbased on other websites you have recently visited or keywords you haverecently used in a search. Both law and industry practices limit the use ofthis information.5

Protecting Your Privacy in the Information AgeSensitive informationSome information, if used inappropriately, can have more seriousconsequences. This includes your Social Security number, driverslicense number, medical records, wage and salary information, taxreports, your credit report and information that personally identifies yourchildren. Sensitive information should be kept confidential and is usuallynot provided to other organizations unless you give specific permissionor unless it is permitted, or required, under state or federal law.In order to develop credit reports, credit reporting agencies gatherinformation from banks and other financial institutions with which youhave a relationship. The Federal Trade Commission closely regulatesthe use of this information as directed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act(FCRA) and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA).In order to assure you will be a responsible employee, tenant or insuredindividual, employers, landlords and insurance companies may ask yourpermission to do a background check on you. This involves verifying theinformation you provided on your application with the source of the data.Background checks can also involve obtaining a credit report if yourfinancial situation is pertinent to the employer or landlord. The FederalTrade Commission closely regulates the uses of this information asdirected by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).Why do they want to know so much about me?Organizations want personal information for a number of reasons, butgenerally they have two main purposes in mind — delivering more relevantmarketing messages and reducing risk — to you and themselves.Relevant marketing messagesTo effectively market products and services to individuals and households,organizations need information about the people they’re trying to reach.For example, if a business wants to offer a new product to a past customeror reward a current customer with a special discount, it needs accuratecontact information to reach that customer. The business may also needhousehold characteristics: home ownership; interests; musical/sports/hobbies/preferences; or lifestyle information, such as current retirees in thehousehold, to deliver the right offer to the right customer.6

Protecting Your Privacy in the Information AgeOr the business might want to attract new customers. In this case, thebusiness would use information indicating a previous interest in a similarproduct or service. The business would also like to focus their customeracquisition efforts with some household characteristics, interest andlifestyle information. They use this information to transfer the knowledgethey have about existing customers’ interests and needs to individualsthey don’t know. Informed targeted marketing reduces the chance thatyou receive unwanted solicitations and maximizes marketing efforts.Reducing risk for the organization and youOrganizations also use information to manage risks — authenticatingsomeone’s identity, verifying information about a customer and detectingor preventing fraud. Most consumers don’t think about these usesof information as they go on behind the scenes. For example, a cardealership might need to verify a buyer’s identity, or a police officer mightneed to locate a suspect’s or witness’ address. All these activities requirequick but secure access to information. The information used to verifysomeone’s identity or locate them in some instances is governed by lawand in other instances is governed by industry codes of conduct.Consumers now demand real-time responses when they apply for credit,which includes mortgages, credit cards and large in-store purchases.To provide this, businesses must be able to access accurate, personalinformation to determine whether credit should be extended and in whatamount. The FCRA governs the use of information for credit purposes.Does the use of personal information benefit me?Often consumers are not aware of the many ways that the use ofpersonal information can directly benefit them in their everyday lives.Here are just a few:Special offersWhen businesses use accurate information to target their promotions,you are more likely to receive more offers that appeal to you and fewerthat do not. Information enables promotions to reach the consumers forwhom a product or service was designed. It also permits added benefits,such as special discounts, early-bird notices of sales, special event alerts,free trials and other frequent shopper benefits that are communicatedthrough direct mail, email, telemarketing, online or your mobile device.7

Protecting Your Privacy in the Information AgeShopping by mail, phone, Internet, or your mobile deviceToday’s shopper can order merchandise from home or the office usinga number of convenient methods, including mail, phone, the Internetor even your mobile device. Information helps make this happen.Companies use personal information to produce and distribute catalogstailored to specific groups of individuals. The result of effective marketingproduces a wider range of products and services from which consumerscan choose. While you sometimes wonder why you are getting all thesecatalogues or emails, the vast majority of consumers find one or more ofthem of interest and actually do make purchases as a result of receivingthem. Often they learn about new products or services that they had notknown about or that were not available in their local area.Personalizing your Internet experienceMany consumers shop on the Internet. While searches provideaccess to information you are seeking, some sites with a wide varietyof content personalize the experience you have when visiting theirwebsite based on your past visits to the site. This can be in the form ofrecommendations, like you see on retail shopping sites, or prioritizing along list of products based on the types of products you have bought orbrowsed previously. This allows you to quickly find items of interest.Free or less costly content on the InternetMany popular Internet sites are funded through advertising, just likecommercials help fund TV shows. As more people shop online, advertisingthere has become much more common. Just like in the offline world,advertisers want to reach individuals who have an interest or need fortheir product or service. In order to do this, they want to understand youbetter. Since you can easily browse the Internet without identifying yourselftechnology is used to help the advertiser better predict your level ofinterest in their products and services. This is most often done through theuse of cookies which are placed on your browser and collect informationabout sites visited and searches made by your browser. In many casesthis is done anonymously, but in cases where you have bought from thesite, they may know who you are. This information is then summarized intointerest categories and used to deliver more relevant ads.8

Protecting Your Privacy in the Information AgeFinding family or friendsOnline directories offer a quick, easy — and often free — way to locatefamily and friends who have moved. Telephone books, alumni directoriesand professional membership registries are just a few examples of thishelpful use of personal information.Legal mattersAccess to personal information has made it far easier to locate peoplewho legally need to be found: parents evading child support orders,missing heirs entitled to inheritances, pension beneficiaries andwitnesses in criminal and civil matters.Real estate transactionsReal estate brokers depend on property information from the countyclerk’s office to obtain recent sales figures of comparable properties in aneighborhood to help you buy or sell a home or investment property. Thegovernment uses this information to help accurately calculate propertytaxes. Mortgage companies use it to determine the value of a piece ofproperty for loan purposes.Obtaining creditWhen you apply for credit, lenders contact credit bureaus for theinformation they need to determine how much credit should be extended.Highly automated systems enable them to easily check your credit reportand provide a quick response. You have the right under the FACT Act toobtain a copy of your credit report annually at no cost. To maximize yourcredit opportunities and to ensure you are getting the lowest interest ratepossible, it is important that you periodically get a copy of your reportand review it. This is also a good way to be sure your information has notfallen into the hands of identity thieves.Fraud reductionWhen a consumer places an order or opens an account, businessesrely on external personal information to verify the accuracy of theinformation provided, thus minimizing the risk of mistakes and evenfraud. They can also check shipping information to ensure the productyou order is going to the correct address. This kind of verification makesit more difficult for criminals to purchase items with stolen credit cardsand false identity representation.9

Protecting Your Privacy in the Information AgeWhat are the risks from information exchanges?While you enjoy a lot of benefits and greater security from the exchangeof information about you, there are some risks that you should be awareof and protect against. Furthermore, a lot of myths about these riskshave grown over the years as concerns about identity theft and new usesof information have increased. This section is intended to clarify some ofthe confusion and provide practical tips for everyday use.Identity theft and takeoverThis is a crime that is escalating. It is also a crime that is becoming morecomplex. Understanding where you are at risk and what protections areavailable to you is important.You or someone you know has probably had a credit card lost or stolen.In these cases, all the credit card issuers have made it very easy toremedy the situation by canceling your old card, getting a new card,and not holding you liable for charges you did not make. By law youare only liable for up to 50.00 of fraudulent charges, but most creditissuers waive this liability. If your credit card is lost or stolen, contactthe issuer immediately.If your actual identity, not just your credit card, is stolen, however,the remedy can be much more difficult and time consuming. Identitytakeover is when a fraudster has enough information to impersonate you— changing the address on your credit accounts so you do not get yourstatement or see the fraudulent charges, opening new credit accountsin your name, or withdrawing funds from your existing accounts.Understanding a few simple tips can help you avoid the crime of identitytakeover. They are provided on pages 12-13 of this booklet.You should be aware that while identity fraud on the Internet gets a lotof news coverage, rarely do these articles distinguish between the crimeof credit card theft and identity takeover. This is important because yourrisks are very different. You should also know that the Internet is not themost common place for either crime. The vast majority of these crimesstill originate from offline loss or theft of information about you, and asignificant portion of these crimes are committed by family and friends.10

Protecting Your Privacy in the Information AgeEmail and phone scamsWhile the Internet has provided a new means for scamming consumers,there have been scammers who act in person and have used thetelephone for many years to get information or money from consumersfor illegal purposes.You should never provide personal information, especially sensitiveinformation such as your Social Security number, date of birth or bankaccount/credit card numbers to anyone. If this information is requested,you must consider who is requesting and why it is being requested. Anybusiness that you have already provided this sensitive information towill never contact you to request the same information again. Possiblylegitimate businesses may ask you to verify a portion of this informationor may ask you verifying questions to which you have already providedanswers. If you still have reservations, you always have the opportunityto postpone your reply until you have confirmed with your local BetterBusiness Bureau that they represent a legitimate business. If you havebeen scammed, report the incident to the authorities, credit bureaus,your financial institutions and to the Better Business Bureau so otherswill not be victimized.In recent years a practice known as “phishing” has developed. This iswhere you receive an email that looks like it comes from a reputablebusiness or government agency when in fact it does not. It usuallydirects you to a website, which also looks legitimate, where you areasked for personal and usually sensitive information such as accountnumbers, date of birth or your Social Security number. These emailsare scams. Do not supply any of the requested information. If youare not certain of the authenticity of an email, contact the business oragency offline and verify the request. These kinds of scams should alsobe reported to the Federal Trade Commission and to the business oragency the email claims to represent.In addition, many of the companies that frequently are impersonatedoffer resources and tips to help authenticate legitimate email from them.More information about recognizing email scams can be found in thesection “Where Can I Learn More” on pages 21-24.11

Protecting Your Privacy in the Information AgeFinancial records and receiptsIt is less and less common for bank statements and other financialrecords to contain personal information about you that could be usedto commit identity fraud. However, it is wise to be careful. Review thestatement and if it contains more than your name, address and accountnumber, it is best to file such statements in a secure place and tear themup or shred them when you throw them away. If you live in an apartmentbuilding or other multifamily dwelling, you may be at greater risk sincethe trash is often more easily available to thieves. You should alsoprotect these records from domestic help and others who have accessto your home.Several years ago, invitations to apply for credit, pre-approved offersof credit and receipts from credit card purchases contained sensitivepersonal information that was needed by identity thieves, includingSocial Security numbers and other information needed to commit identitytakeover. In all these instances companies have changed their practicesto protect consumers. Applications for credit and pre-approved offersno longer contain sensitive information. You may also have noticed thatin most cases now only the last four digits of your credit card number isprinted on the receipt. These practices have greatly reduced the abilityof fraudsters to make purchases or takeover your identity with a piece ofmail or a receipt.How can I protect myself from identity fraud?Criminals committing identity fraud are sophisticated. To lower yourchances of becoming a victim, follow these simple steps.Don’t carry sensitive information around with youMinimize the information you routinely carry that could contribute toidentity theft if your wallet or purse was stolen. Do not carry your SocialSecurity card or information with bank account numbers and associatedPINs in your wallet or purse.12

Protecting Your Privacy in the Information AgeKeep a list or photocopy of all your credit cards, bank accounts andinvestments — the account number, PIN, expiration date and telephonenumber of the customer service — in a secure place at home (not yourwallet or purse) so you can quickly contact these companies in the eventof a theft or loss.Protect sensitive informationNever give your Social Security number over the phone or the Internetunless you are dealing with someone you know. Do not give yourcredit card number or other personal information over the phone oron the Internet unless you know the company or you have initiated thecall. Identity thieves have been known to call or email their victimswith very real sounding but false stories to lure them into providingsensitive information.Each year when you receive your Social Security Personal Earnings andBenefits Estimate Statement examine it for fraud. The Social SecurityAdministration mails it to adult age SSN holders about three monthsbefore your birthday. The SSA website has additional information.Information on how to reach them is provided on page 23.Checking your credit reportIf you have reason to believe you are a victim of credit card fraud oridentity takeover, you can get a free copy of your credit report, and youcan also order one free copy annually even if you do not suspect anyproblems. Information on how to request a copy of your credit report isprovided on page 24. In addition, several companies, including the threecredit bureaus, offer credit monitoring services for an annual fee. Theseservices notify you when there is any activity on your credit report, thusalerting you to possible fraud. The websites and toll-free numbers areprovided on pages 21-24.Protect your mailInstall a locked mailbox at your residence, use a Post Office box orcommercial mailbox service to deter mail theft. When you are away fromhome for an extended time, have your mail held at the Post Office orask a trusted neighbor to pick it up. Be sure to watch the mail when youexpect a new or reissued credit card to arrive. Contact the issuer if thecard does not arrive within a reasonable timeframe.13

Protecting Your Privacy in the Information AgeIf your regular bank or other financial statement is late, contact thebusiness and inquire about the late statement. When you pay bills, donot leave the envelopes with checks in an unsecured mailbox for thecarrier to pick up. If stolen, your checks can be altered and then cashedby the imposter.Passwords and PINsWhen creating passwords and PINs (personal identification numbers),do not use factual information about you such as the last four digits ofyour Social Security number, mother’s maiden name, your birthdate,middle name, pet’s name, consecutive numbers or other facts that couldeasily be discovered by thieves. It is best to create random passwordsthat

background screening for child care centers and school bus drivers. What kind of information is available? There is a variety of information available to businesses and organizations. Most of it is non-sensitive, but some of it is sensitive. Public records Collected primarily from state and federal government sources,File Size: 1MB