Your Privacy Rights
In many cases, when you agree to terms of service, you are forfeiting some privacy. For example, you’ve probably given permission (knowingly or not) to online retailers and social media sites to track your browsing history so you can be served up targeted advertisements. Everything from political campaigns to real estate agencies to loan companies also can legally purchase your information – and you probably agreed to that on some form somewhere – and try to contact you.
Beyond those types of things, however, if you ever feel that a company might be misusing your information in some way, you may have some recourse. The challenge is that Internet privacy is still in its infancy and new privacy issues are emerging all the time. That said, there are a few key consumer rights to be aware of:
- The Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC Act) gives the FTC the authority to enforce companies to follow their own privacy policies. It also requires financial institutions to protect consumer information.
- When it comes to your credit history, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulates which companies are allowed to pull your credit report, the information that credit bureaus can collect, and the ways in which information is reported.
- HIPAA laws protect your health and medical records from being shared or disclosed without your permission.
- If you live in California, Virginia, or Colorado, your states have stricter privacy laws than most – the (CCPA, the VCDPA, and ColoPA, respectively). For other state residents, you can check your state’s privacy legislation via this tracker.
How to maintain as much privacy as possible
While no method is foolproof, being proactive in a few ways can help protect your data and privacy as you navigate the digital space. Start with these strategies:
- Turn off location services in your apps. Reduce the data that is collected about your whereabouts by going to your smart phone app settings and choose the option to turn off your location (or to only keep on when using the app).
- Change your browser and app settings. When using web browsers like Google Chrome, Safari and others, you can control what is tracked and stored such as your browsing history, saved passwords, saved payment methods and more. On social media platforms, limit who is able to view your profile pages and posts.
- Don’t get gamed. You know all those social media quizzes and memes that ask you fun questions about yourself? Many of them are just attempts to to find out your answers to common password hint questions, like your pet’s name, your favorite elementary school teacher or school mascot. Don’t fall for it.
- Be wary of public Wi-Fi. If you’re conducting transactions when you’re on the go, you should always use your smart phone’s network or download a VPN (virtual private network). Using public Wi-Fi is an open invitation for hackers to breach your device.
- Opt out of information sharing when given the chance. When filling out forms, placing orders or requesting information, always check (or uncheck in some cases) boxes in which you’re agreeing to share your information with other parties.
- Use a lock screen. Having a security feature like facial recognition, a thumbprint or a passcode on your phone, tablet and laptops can prevent people from accessing your devices if you accidentally put them down or leave them somewhere.
- Keep your devices and apps updated. Having the latest versions of operating systems and apps on your devices will ensure that you have the most recent security patches that protect you from vulnerabilities.
- Be smart with passwords. Use strong passcodes and enable two-factor authentication when available as an additional layer of protection.
- Avoid falling for scams. Trust your gut and ignore suspicious links in emails or weird text messages as they could be phishing scams that attempt to collect your data or send you to a fake website.
- Monitor your important accounts and credit. If something ever seems amiss (like suspicious correspondence or you notice that a transaction doesn’t look right), notify the company immediately.
Valley can help
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud or you’re unsure, please contact your Banking Team, reach out to Valley Customer Care at 800-522-4100, or connect with us at valley.com/security.