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Top 15 Privacy Action Cards liked by Users. Click to Like or Share 'em with friends

Check a Smartphone Apps Privacy Grade
PrivacyGrade - Carnegie Mellon University Program

Smartphones have our contact lists, emails, location, call and text logs, photos, health data, and so much more. However, smartphone apps can access this sensitive data in ways that people do not expect.

To combat this issue a team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University started a program to assign privacy grades to smartphone apps (currently for Android OS) based on techniques they developed to analyze an applications privacy-related behaviors.

To check a smartphone apps privacy grade visit, PrivacyGrade.org.

Opt Out - Online Behavioral Advertising
AboutAds - Digital Advertising Alliance Program

The Web sites you visit often work with online advertisers to provide you with relevant ads based on the content you viewed or searched. This is referred to "interest-based advertising" or "online behavior advertising".

Click here to exercise your choice to Opt-Out of online behavior advertising from all companies that are part of the Digital Advertising Alliance Self-Regulatory program, or visit, AboutAds.info to learn more about your Choices or how online advertising supports the free content, products and services you use online.

2-Step Verification - Increase Security of Google/Gmail accounts
Google Inc. and its U.S. subsidiaries

2-Step verification adds an extra layer of security to your online accounts, dramatically reducing the chances of your personal information from being stolen. Once enabled, you will receive a code on your registered phone that you will need to enter on the website before you can login. This has to be done only the first time you login from a new device.

This extra step authorizes your device to access the website. This means that a bad guy would now not only need your username and password but also have to gain access to your phone to break in.

To turn on 2-step verification for Google services (like Gmail) follow these steps,
1. Go to your Account settings after you login
2. Go to the Security settings
3. Enable 2-Step Verification and follow online instructions.

Double check if a File is Safe

If you're not sure that a file is safe, take a few seconds to first check if the file is free of viruses, worms, trojans, and any other kind of malware.

Upload the file to a Free Online Virus/Malware Scanning tool like, VirusTotal.

VirusTotal and other services like them can scan and detect malware in any type of file (e.g. Windows executables, PDFs, images, javascript code, etc.) on any platform (windows, Android, iOS, etc.) by running the suspicious samples through several antivirus solutions.

Retweet and Join Others to Support the Data Broker Act

Mobile Payments Using a Digital Wallet

Paying for your purchases using a smart phone app has become more common and convenient. In a sense you have a digital wallet that contains your credit card numbers, store loyalty cards, and even digital coupons. When you get to the checkout counter, you pay by swiping your phone at the checkout. You can also use it online. Before you decide to use a digital wallet provider, make certain that your phone has the required chip that allows you to use the mobile payment app.

Also find out how the mobile wallet service ensures the security of your cards and each transaction. Some questions to ask:

  • Is it possible to freeze your wallet if your phone is lost or stolen?
  • Are the details of your purchases shared or sold for marketing purposes?
  • Is there a PIN to secure access to your digital wallet?
  • Are there other security measures in place (encryption of your cards, security codes)?
  • Can you freeze or delete your account remotely (via phone or website) if your phone is lost or stolen?
  • Who is responsible for fraudulent or unauthorized purchases, and what is your liability if this happens?
  • How do you dispute a purchase?

Source: 2014 Consumer Action Handbook

Encrypted Email for Private Communications

If you don't want an email to be read by anyone other than the intended recipient then you should start using encryption. There are many good reasons for using private communications - for sharing confidential documents, sensitive information or even personal messages and photos with your close friends.

Even when they're quite ordinary, emails do reveal lots of things about you over time so you may want to use encryption to prevent free email service providers from mining your emails contents and building a profile about you (which practically all free email providers do today).

The biggest impediment to using email encryption has been the extra effort required to share encryption keys with the person you want to exchange a secure email with, but now it's gotten so much easier. There's a solution (free or for a small fee) whether you need to use encryption with your webmail account (like Yahoo Mail, Gmail, Hotmail, etc.) or with the email client you use on your PC or laptop (Outlook, MAC mail, etc).

Mailvelope (free browser plugin for use with Webmail), Gpg4win (free software for encrypting email and files on windows) and GPGTools (for MAC mail client) are some examples of email encryption tools.

Here are the basic steps each solution requires,

  1. Install the software or browser plugin (follow the vendors instructions).
  2. Create your private and public key pair (which is usually the last step during installation). To create your keys you will need to enter your name and the email address you want to use your key with. If you have more than one email then you will need to create a key pair for each email address.
  3. Share your public key with those you want to send secure email. Likewise, you need to import your friends public keys and save these within your tools key manager (usually called keychain).

Some products maintain a key server where you and your friends can upload your public keys so the other can find it. Optionally, you can email your public keys to one another. To do so simply use your software's export key feature and copy the key file or key text (which is just a continuous block of characters with a begin and end block) in your email.

That's all it takes to get setup.

Now, whenever you want to send a secure email simply click the encrypt button which appears in your compose email window. If you don't click the encrypt button the email is sent unencrypted.


  • Your public key is what you share with friends while your private key stays on your device. Your encryption software uses your friends public key to encrypt your messages to them so only they can decrypt it with their private key and vice versa.
  • There are 2 main standards for encryption, OpenPGP and S/MIME (X.509) so your encryption tool will need to support either one to properly decrypt the emails.
  • Some email encryption software only encrypt the message and not attachments.
Opt Out - Credit Offers Permanently
National Credit Reporting Agency Program

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) grants the Consumer Credit Reporting Companies (Equifax, Experian, Innovis, and TransUnion) certain allowances to include your name on lists used by creditors or insurers.

However, the FCRA also provides you the right to "Opt-Out" and have your name removed from these lists.

To Opt-Out permanently from pre-screened credit and insurance offers you may begin the process online at, OptOutPrescreen.com.

To complete your request, you must return the signed Permanent Opt-Out Election form, which will be provided after you initiate your online request.

Stay informed about your options and benefits of receiving offers of credit or insurance at OptOutPrescreen.com.

Using Public WiFi Networks

If you use public Wi-Fi networks, take these steps to protect your personal information.

Source: OnGuardOnline.gov

Dispute Inaccurate Information
Fair Credit Reporting Act

FCRA gives you the right to dispute inaccurate or incomplete content with the reporting company that furnished the data. FCRA also allows you to dispute other issues such as, if you are dissatisfied with a company's investigation of an earlier dispute, if you believe your consumer report was used incorrectly, if you have problems accessing your consumer report, or if you are dissatisfied with consumer reporting services such as credit monitoring and identity protection.

To learn more about how to dispute a reporting error directly with a consumer reporting agency visit, consumerfinance.gov. You can also submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. To see if a company is listed in the consumer complaint database visit consumerfinance.gov/complaintdatabase. Please note that not every consumer reporting company will have information on every consumer.

Sign Petition to Support the Data Broker Act
Data Broker Accountability and Transparency Act

We all want the benefits that new technologies are bringing to us, but only with the confidence that our companies and government will handle information about us fairly and responsibly.

Several bills have been introduced in Congress to address privacy issues and help consumers and frustrated parents in a world of disappearing privacy.

Join me, a concerned citizen like you, by signing this petition in support of the legislation proposed by Sen. Rockefeller and Sen. Markey. This legislation will help reform the data broker industry and the industries and clients they service.

Review the proposed legislation at, Congress.gov.

Sign the petition at, http://www.petition2congress.com/17217/reform-us-privacy-laws-support-data-broker-act/

Dispute your Experian Credit Report
Experian Holdings, Inc.

Checking your credit reports at least once a year is an important step towards ensuring that the financial information collected about you is accurate and there are no errors that could keep you from getting credit or best available terms on a loan. It also keeps you alert against identity theft which occurs when someone uses your personal or financial information to commit fraud.

You should check your report before making a major purchase that may involve a loan, such as a car or a house or before applying for a new job.

To dispute inaccurate information on Experian's credit report visit the web page, Dispute Information on My Credit Report.

Opt Out - Unsolicited Mailings
Direct Marketing Association Privacy Program

The Direct Marketing Association's (DMA) Mail Preference Service (MPS) lets you opt out of receiving unsolicited commercial mail from many national companies for five years. To register with DMA's Mail Preference Service, visit DMAChoice.org, or mail your request with a $1 processing fee to:

DMA Telephone Preference Service
P.O. Box 1559
Carmel, NY 10512

Browse the Internet Privately

A record of the sites you visit and your searches can reveal a lot about you. Nonetheless, your online activity is anything but private. Browsers, Search Engines, Websites you visit, Ad Trackers, your ISP, and all places your Internet traffic gets routed through can obtain some information about you that can be tracked back to you.

Here are simple steps you can take to privately browse and search the internet.

1. Use Private Browsing On Shared Devices and for Online Banking and Financial Transactions: Browsers keep a track of your browsing history i.e. places you visited and what you downloaded. This means anyone that you share your devices with (at home, work, or public places) can access your browsing records if they wanted to. Private Browsing ensures that your browsing history is not saved and all browser cookies are deleted when you close the Browser window. Websites however still know your IP address and that you visited them. Private Browsing feature is called Incognito in Chrome, Private Windows in Firefox and Opera, InPrivate Browsing in Internet Explorer and Private Browsing in Safari. To use this feature go to the File Menu in your Browser and Open a New Incognito Window, New Private Window, etc.

2. Use Private Searching When You Don't Want To Share your Search Terms with Search Engines and Websites: When you do a search and click on a link, your search terms are stored by the search engine and also sent to the website you clicked on in your search result. The fact that the search terms can be identified back to you to build your profile (which is now a common practice) is what's concerning. To Search Privately you can either install a Browser Plugin like Disconnect that anonymizes and redirects your traffic to your favorite search engine or use a search engine like DuckDuckGo that does not log your search terms. These tools ensure the search terms you type in the browser cannot be associated with you and therefore not be used by anyone to anonymously build your online profile. Furthermore, look for HTTPS versions of the search engines because this ensures that 3rd parties through which your internet traffic is flowing also decipher your activity, which otherwise they could.

3. Completely Anonymous and Private Browsing: If you ever need to be online without even your ISP or destination website knowing that you had been there, then you need to use a Proxy service like Tor which will route your traffic through a series of encrypted relays. Download the Tor Browser and make sure you only connect to HTTPS websites. Also be sure not to enable or install any Browser Plugins with Tor Browser to maintain complete online anonymity.

To get the highest level of anonymity while surfing and searching the Internet use a Search Engine that does not track your searches in combination with a Proxy service.

Unlist from Ancestry.com

To opt out of Ancestry.com, you can email them at customersolutions@ancestry.com with details about the URL address or web page in which the information appears, and what you would like to have removed.

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