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Consumer Privacy: Laws To Protect You And What To Do In Case Of A Breach

As a consumer, you are entitled to a set of rights that are guaranteed by law. 

They may vary slightly from where you are residing; nevertheless, there is a burden for companies and government entities to ensure that your rights are protected at all times. 

However, with the steady rise of an ever-so-changing consumer world, we all face a slew of new challenges, and we are all playing catch up to all of them. 

With the shift to a digital-based economy, a waking reality to most businesses around the world, more and more companies are migrating their systems to adapt, but they seem to lack the necessary security infrastructures set up to ensure consumer privacy prevails. 

Incidents such as data breaches on companies’ servers, illegal collection of data without prior consent, etc., tamper with the everyday consumer’s rights in every way possible.

Companies, from Silicon Valley behemoths Google and Facebook to medium and small-sized businesses, are falling short in protecting their consumers’ best interests. 

There Are Laws To Protect You

The government, sticking true to its mandate of protecting consumers’ rights, has set up several agencies and has passed laws and regulations in order to monitor companies all around the country. 

Primarily, the federal government gives its mandate to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to cover concerns of privacy issues. 

FTC officials can launch probes on reports of abuses, release and establish rules and regulations covering companies, and sanction erring business entities. 

In addition to that, Congress has passed laws aiming to protect consumers with the following laws: Fair Credit Reporting Act (which aims to regulate the use and collection of consumer credit information), Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (which aims to protect underage individuals from illegal data collection), and Health Insurance Portability and Accounting Act (which aims to monitor proper means of collecting health information). 

As of press time, there is no federal law yet in place that aims to have comprehensive coverage of online consumer protection all over the country. 

Among the states, California leads with its own California Consumer Privacy Act passed last 2020. 

California residents can take erring companies to court if they have failed to protect their customers’ information from data breaches and other privacy attacks. 

The California law also mandates companies to have a larger role in ensuring the data privacy of customers.

Companies in California or have a presence there are required to inform consumers about what data is collected, how it is used, and how they are protected. 

New York has its own with the Stop Hacks and Improve Electronic Data Security Act, or SHIELD, passed two years ago. 

It poses stricter requirements for companies operating in the state to ensure compliance with consumer data privacy standards. 

Other states are slated to follow suit in passing their own versions of consumer privacy protection legislation, but until Congress enacts a federal-wide law, different areas may have varying degrees and interpretations of consumer data privacy protection policies. 

In Cases Of Data Privacy Failure, Ask For Help

Your personal information is so lucrative that there are hackers and legal companies out there trying to make a buck out of it through illegitimate means. 

Because of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, our reliance on online transactions has risen dramatically in a short period of time. 

In cases of data breach incidents, companies are required to inform their consumer base of the incident and how they are affected by the ordeal. 

It can be done through email or text; any form of communication would do. 

However, if you were not informed and only learned about it in the news or other resources, you will have to contact the said company to inquire about the status of your personal information and how the incident may have impacted you. 

Cases may vary as information might be stolen, replicated, and even sold to other companies for profit and gain. 

You can reach a trusted legal professional that will help you assess your situation to give you the best legal advice and the next steps to take. 

We here at Consider The Consumer are all about the rights of the everyday consumer. If you need help, just reach out to our official communications channel below. 

Editor’s Note:

This feature is published to give you a quick rundown of current policies with regards to data privacy protection and how to ask for help in case of a breach. 

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