10 Steps You Can Take To Protect Your Calling Records

In the absence of adequate legislation for the protection of consumers’ telephone calling records, consumers are encouraged to take the following proactive steps in an effort to protect the privacy of their calling records.

1. Request the removal of all “call details” from your cell phone bills
You may contact your cell phone service provider and inform them that you do not wish to receive bills that detail the duration of calls made/received, the phone numbers that you dial or the phone numbers of the persons who call you.

2. Request deactivation of online access to your cell phone account
Inform your cell phone service provider that you do not wish to have access to your account via the internet, and that you would like internet access to your account to be deactivated.

3. Do not provide your personal cell-phone number to the general public
Be sure that you are familiar with all of the persons to whom you provide your cell phone number, and that you are in possession of contact information (including first and last names, telephone numbers and places of employment) for all of the individuals to whom you have provided your cell phone number.

If you choose to provide your cell phone number to businesses, organizations or other establishments, then be sure that you have first received a written copy of the establishment’s privacy policy, or, at very the least, be sure that you are familiar with the content of their written privacy policy. If the establishment does not have a written privacy policy, you may request their business registration number, with which you may verify the legitimacy of the establishment and look into any history of fraudulent business activity.

4. Inform your cell phone provider that you would like to receive a text message requesting verification of any request for access to your telephone calling records
Inform your cell phone service provider that you would like to receive a text message every time the company receives a request for access to your account information, including requests for access to your telephone calling records. Be sure to specify that you would like the company to require confirmation of your receipt of the text message (verifying that it was you, or another person authorized by you, who requested your account information) prior to providing the requested information.

Recommendations for all telephone customers (cells phone and wire line users)

5. Inform your telephone service provider that you would like them to require the use of a personally selected PIN/password for any and all access to your account information
You may contact the company and request a PIN/password. You may also request the company to require that your PIN/password be provided in order to access any of your account information, including calling records.

6. Opt-out of sharing Consumer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) / Personally Identifying Information (PII)
Carefully read the telephone company’s written service policy. Somewhere in the policy there may be a statement indicating that you may choose to “opt out” of having your CPNI provided to third parties. If you have difficulty locating the statement, you should call the telephone company and request assistance. Once you have located and read the statement (or if the statement does not exist in the service providers’ written policy), contact your telephone company and inform them that you would like to “opt out” of having your CPNI shared with third parties.

7. Inform your telephone service provider that you do not wish to provide your Social Security number (SSN), and request that the telephone company provide you with an alternative means of verification
Tell your telephone company that you do not wish to provide your SSN, and that you would prefer to provide (or be provided with) an alternate means of account verification such as a PIN or password. If you do choose to provide your SSN, ensure that the company does not use the number as your account number, which will be printed on the bills that you receive in the mail (electronically and/or through the postal service). Even if the telephone company does not ask you for your SSN, be sure to state that you do not wish to have your SSN (or any part of your SSN) used as your account number or otherwise printed anywhere on your bills/statements.

8. Protect your PINs and passwords
If you are unable to memorize your PINs/passwords, be sure that any written reminders (created by you or received from the telephone company) are saved in a secret location inaccessible to others. Ensure that any written passwords that you maintain are not accompanied by the account number(s) to which they correspond or the name of the telephone company.

Be aware of who is in the vicinity when you use your PINs/passwords, and that your use of PINs/passwords is not visible or audible to anyone nearby.

Do not share your PINs/passwords with others. If you do choose to authorize another’s limited use of your PIN/password for the purpose of accessing your account, be sure to change the password (on the internet or by phone) as soon as you no longer desire that individual to have access to your account.

9. If you are concerned that someone has been intercepting billing statements sent to your mailing address, you may choose to rent a post-office box. In addition, be mindful of where you discard your old bills
A U.S. Post Office is a secure location that provides individual P.O. boxes to which you may choose to have all or some of your mail (such as bills and statements) sent for a very small charge (approximately $20.00 for six months or you may choose to pay for a year at a time).

There are persons known as “dumpster divers.” They make it their business to rifle through others’ discarded mail. It is recommended that all consumers buy a paper shredder and use it to shred all old bills and statements. Alternatively, you may choose to tear or burn old bills and statement before discarding them.

10. Request unlisted phone numbers
In order to avoid strangers’ access to you phone number, you may inform your telephone/cell-phone service provider (at the time of establishing new phone service) that you do not whish to have your phone number listed in the company’s telephone directory.

According to the “Privacy Survival Guide” published by Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, the three most important things to remember about protecting your privacy are: “be aware of how and when you give out personal information,” “be assertive when asked for information you do not feel is necessary,” “be an advocate for your privacy rights.”

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