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Weekly Roundup: Data Tracking Troubles Consumers

Weekly Roundup: Data Tracking Troubles Consumers
July 19, 2013
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071813_Weekly Roundup
Data tracking was a hot topic in the news this week. For one, Nordstrom customers heard some troubling news: The retailer is tracking them through their smartphone signals. Consumers also heard about the possibility the government could track their locations thanks to cellphone data. The Illinois Attorney General Office, too, announced it is investigating how health websites compile medical data about their users.

Retailers Keeping Close Watch on Customers

Stores like Nordstrom are attempting to gather more information about their customers to better advertise to them or even improve store layouts. However, these stores are compiling this information through video surveillance but by tracking the customers' movements by following signals from their smartphones, The New York Times reported. This news didn't sit well with Nordstrom customers. While consumers may be more open about online retailers tracking their web browsing history, people are unnerved when a company actually is watching them shop in a store. "Way over the line," one consumer called it, The NY Times reported.

Your Info Is Out There—Protect It

Consumers now know the National Security Agency can request a phone company to report cellphone location data of its users, or even ask an email provider to share the contents of online correspondents. While consumers cannot hide all their personal data, there are ways to minimize the amount of digital information they put out there, The NY Times reported. One of the identity theft tips the source gave was using different passwords for each online community a person belongs to - this is crucial to protecting multiple accounts. Blocking tools are also available, and users can keep a person's browser history private. Security basics, like always updating software to avoid security bugs from piling, will also cut down on the possibility of a personal data breach.

Illinois AG Looks Into Data Tracking Procedures

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is asking and other health websites like and, to report how it is collecting personal information from its users. Madigan is concerned about the medical privacy of residents as more people turn to the web to conduct research on a health issues. She wanted this information, along with information of how these companies are storing this information and if outside companies are given access to it, by early August.

IRS Needs to Improve to Reduce Identity Theft, Report States

In 2012, the IRS' Taxpayer Protection Program identified 324,670 tax returns involving identity theft - a number the agency wants to cut down on. However, a new government report  states that the program needs to improve in order to do so. Specifically, how data related to the protection program, the cases worked and training are inadequate to properly prevent against identity-related tax fraud. In some instances, Account Management Services cases were not documented correctly or closed accurately, Accounting Today reported. Rashia Wilson, of Tampa, Fla., who committed tax fraud and shared her crimes to the world via the Internet, is a good example of what will happen to someone who attempts to defraud the government, Forbes reported. Wilson was caught, ordered to pay $3 million in fines and sent to prison for 21 years. It is also a good example of the IRS catching identity-related tax fraud.

Matt Cullina is chief executive officer of IDentity Theft 911.

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