Branch Out

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Marketing and Communications Office: 8:30–4:30 M–F

703-324-3100
TTY 711

12000 Government Center Parkway Suite 324
Fairfax, VA 22035

Christina Paladeau,
Editor, Branch Out

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Protecting Your Privacy and Data Security

 

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Consumer Reports provides safety and shopping recommendations for the digital age.

Rewards and Risks of Online Activity

With Virginia’s safer-at-home guidance in place, Fairfax County residents are not venturing out as often. Work, entertainment, shopping and socializing have all become at-home activities for most.

Though technology enables people to join group fitness classes, order groceries and visit medical professionals from home, this convenience comes at a cost. When you shop for, purchase or use a product or service online, your private information may be collected, bought or sold without your knowledge or consent.

A MAJOR PROBLEM
Identity theft often tops the list of consumer complaints reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other enforcement agencies.

Start with Simple Safeguards

Consumer Reports suggests some easy steps to boost your data security and privacy:

  • Turn on automatic software updates. Old software means you are missing the latest protections.
  • Set screen locks on every device you own and avoid easy-to-guess passwords.
  • When signing up for a loyalty card or accessing a website you will only use once, if you are asked to provide an email, try a using a temporary email address like one from 10minutemail.com.
  • Turn off location tracking in mobile apps unless it is necessary for the app’s purpose, such as when using ride-share services.
DATA COLLECTION IS BIG BUSINESS
According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), large commercial organizations called data-brokers collect massive amounts of data on millions of consumers to resell or utilize in targeted marketing campaigns.

Found in FCPL’s online Reference Center, Consumer Reports serves to inform and protect consumers, offering informative articles and research alongside unbiased ratings and reviews for products and services. Whether you are looking for more tips on data privacy or you need help deciding which cell phone to buy, you can count on Consumer Reports to help you make informed choices.

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