More information hacks and scams credit agencies? 3 steps can help protect your privacy.

And even if you win a billion-dollar lottery, only a few states allow you to not know. It can’t even be bought privately, apparently.

See: Information from 235 million Twitter users was reportedly exposed by the hacker

More money = less privacy

Let’s say you just won a bazillion-dollar lottery, and everyone should know. Yes, sure, you want to share the good news with your family and friends (yes?). But tell the world? Yes.

In most states, you can’t call that jackpot without a name.

The laws vary according to the laws that exist in each state. Although the landscape often changes, at last count, only twenty states allow you to know. 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 dollar to yourself.

Almost every other state requires some form of disclosure for big winners. In California, state law requires that the winner’s full name and where they purchased the ticket be provided. This may be the reason why the $2 billion Powerball ticket winner did not come from November.

Some states will allow you to set up a trust to accept the payment, which can add an element of privacy.

So, if you win the lottery, check your state’s laws to see if you have to wear a dress and change your name after you cash out. Or, you can get cash moved to Pitcairn Island in the South Pacific. Said to be one of the most isolated places in the world, the island has only 50 inhabitants – but there is high-speed internet.

You must fly to all your friends, family and food, but for you, Big Winner, the price is nothing.

Plus: These online scams to steal your money will surprise you – even if you think you’ve seen them all

Your credit report for everyone to see

Okay, that’s the funny dream-of-winning-the-lottery situation. A more serious privacy concern is related to your score.

An error with Experian’s website
EXPGY,
-0.65%
,
one of the three major credit reporting companies, recently reported. According to Brian Krebs, a computer security writer and blogger, identity thieves retrieved the credit reports of an unknown number of customers.

Apparently, it was an accident that allowed anyone to use the usual security measures and get the customer’s report. All that was required was the person’s name, address, date of birth and Social Security number – things that can often be found on the dark web for a price.

This month, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released an analysis of nearly half a million consumer complaints involving the credit report – Experian as well as Equifax.
FX,
+2.41%

and TransUnion
TRU,
+3.81%
.
CFPB Director Rohit Chopra said credit bureaus “often top the list of complaints filed by consumers,” but the report also called for improvements in how they handle them. complaints and how much help is given to customers.

According to the office, the three credit reporting agencies should continue to work to improve compliance with consumer financial protection laws and provide better customer service. “We will study the new rules to ensure that they are following the law instead of cutting corners to improve their profit model,” added Chopra.

Last year, the CFPB reported that credit reporting companies “often allow their systems to be used to coerce people into paying medical bills they may not owe.”

The CFPB said that once medical bills were submitted to collections and submitted to credit reporting agencies, consumers saw their credit scores drop. Low grades became a “weapon” that collectors could use against people to force payment. Some people were very upset and just gave in and paid, whether owed or not. They were eager to end the accumulation of risk and protect their debt from further damage.

This year, credit bureaus will stop reporting debt collections under $500, replacing them with credit card example this will reduce the credit score impact of unpaid debts.

See also: Can you trust mobile banking apps? How to stay safe when you can save money on your phone.

‘Bad information’ errors on credit reports

In the latest report on the Experian credit report access hack, defense reporter Krebs said that when he received his report on the security measures criminals used, he discovered that his The credit report contains “a number of errors that would probably take considerable effort on my part to correct.”

In an October statement, the CFPB cited an increase in “bad information” that is clearly false in credit reports. An example involved the accusation that someone “defaulted on a loan before they were born.”

Protect your privacy

With the latest breaches and security hacks in mind, you may want to:

  • Update the master password of your program password (or get one if you don’t have one), and change the passwords of any important financial websites you access.

  • Request your credit report from annualcreditreport.com, the government website where you can get your three credit reports for free. Look for errors, then report and correct them to the appropriate office.

  • Think freeze your credit. If your credit has been frozen, make sure it’s still there.

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Hal M. Bundrick, CFP® writes for NerdWallet. Email: hal@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @halmbundrick.

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