More data hacks and credit agency errors? 3 steps that can help protect your privacy.

And even if you win the $1 billion lottery, only a handful of states allow you to remain anonymous. You can’t even buy privacy, apparently.

We see: A hacker reportedly exposed data from 235 million Twitter users

Big money = little privacy

Let’s say You just won a billion dollar lotteryAnd everyone should know that. Yes, sure, you’ll want to share the exciting news with your family and friends (yes?). But tell the world? Yikes.

In most states, you cannot claim the jackpot without revealing your identity.

The rules vary according to the laws prevailing in each state. Although the landscape changes often, only about a dozen states allow you to remain anonymous. Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia are among those that give you the option to keep the big news to yourself.

Every other country requires some form of identification for the top winners. In California, state laws require release of the winner’s full name and where the ticket was purchased. This could be the reason why the $2 billion Powerball ticket winner hasn’t appeared as of November.

Some states will allow you to set up a trust to accept the return, which can add a layer of privacy.

So if you win the lottery, check your state laws to see if you have to wear camouflage and change your name after you get the money. Moving to Pitcairn Island in the South Pacific Ocean. Said to be one of the most isolated spots in the world, it’s only home to about 50 people – but there’s high-speed internet.

You’ll have to travel with all your friends, family, and food, but hey, as for you, the big winner, The cost is nothing.

Plus: These online scams to steal your money will shock you – even if you think you’ve seen them all

Your credit report for all to see

Well, this is the fun corner of privacy dreaming of winning the lottery. The most pressing privacy concern is related to your credit score.

defective Experian EXPGY site,
It was recently reported on one of the three largest credit reporting companies. According to Brian Krebs, a computer security reporter and blogger, identity thieves have been recovering the credit reports of an unknown number of consumers.

Apparently, a glitch allowed someone to bypass the usual security measures and access the consumer report. All that was required was the person’s name, address, date of birth, and social security number—items often found on the dark web for a price.

This month the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released an analysis of nearly half a million consumer complaints involving credit reporting bureaus – namely Experian as well as Equifax EFX,
and TransUnion TRU,
CFPB Director Rohit Chopra said credit bureaus “routinely top the list of complaints filed by consumers,” but the report also called for improvements in the way complaints are handled and the frequency of relief offered to consumers.

The bureau said the three credit reporting agencies must continue to work to improve compliance with consumer financial protection laws and better serve consumers. “We will explore new rules to make sure they follow the law rather than cut corners to fuel their profit model,” Chopra added.

Last year, the CFPB reported that credit reporting companies “often allowed their operations to be used to coerce individuals into paying medical bills they may not even owe.”

Once medical bills were grouped and submitted to credit reporting agencies, the CFPB said, consumers saw their credit scores drop. Lower grades became “weapons” that collectors could use against people to force payment. Some people were so frustrated that they simply gave up and paid, whether the amount was owed or not. They were desperate to end the collection hassle and protect their credit from further damage.

This year, credit bureaus will stop reporting medical debt collections of less than $500, changes to Credit scoring forms It will reduce the credit score impact of unpaid medical debt.

See also: Can you trust mobile banking apps? How to stay as safe as possible when banking on your phone.

False “unsolicited statements” in credit reports

In a recently reported Experian credit report access report, security reporter Krebs said that when he accessed his report with the security glitch criminals he used, he found his credit report to contain “several errors that probably required a significant part of the effort to correct.”

In a statement released in October, the CFPB noted the prevalence of clearly false “unsolicited statements” in consumer credit reports. An example is accusing someone of “defaulting on a loan before they were born”.

Protect your privacy

With recent security breaches and breaches in mind, you may want to:

  • Update your master password for a password manager app (or get one if you don’t have one), and change passwords for any important financial sites you access.

  • Order your credit file from, the government website that allows you to access all three credit reports for free. Find errors, then report and correct them to the appropriate office.

  • I advise Freeze your balance. And if your credit was previously frozen, make sure it still is.

More from NerdWallet

Hal M.Bundrick, CFP® writes for NerdWallet. Email: Twitter: @halmbundrick.

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