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

By Hal M. Bundrick

You can no longer shop anonymously. These violations can hurt your credit — here’s how to protect yourself.

This article is reprinted with permission from NerdWallet.

Privacy seems to be a rare commodity. How often do we hear about security breaches that expose our personal information to a malicious actor somewhere? It feels like almost every day.

LastPass, the web security app (compromised), Chick-fil-A and Twitter recently (like two weeks ago) failed security.

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 reportedly exposed by hacker

More money = less privacy

Suppose you just won the million dollar lottery, and everyone needs to 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 draw. Or, you can get the cash and move 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 have to fly to all your friends, family and food, but hey, for you, Big Winner, the price is nothing.

Plus: These online scams to steal your money will shock 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.

A failure on the website of Experian (EXPN.LN), one of the three major credit reporting companies, has been reported recently. 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 credit reporting — Experian as well as Equifax ( EFX ) and TransUnion ( TRU ) . 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. There are complaints and many times to help 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 practices to be used to coerce people into paying medical bills they don’t 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, and changes to credit scoring models will reduce the impact of unpaid credit scores. .

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

‘Bad information’ errors on credit reports

In the latest report of the Experian credit report access hack, defense reporter Krebs said that when he accessed his report using the security criminals, he discovered that his credit report there are “many mistakes and it will probably take a lot of effort on my part to correct them.”

In a statement in October, the CFPB revealed an increase in “misleading information” in credit reports. An example would include someone alleging “a loan defaulted before they were born.”

Protect your privacy

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

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

 

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