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January 28th is Data Privacy Day, an occasion to emphasize the importance of keeping our personal information safe, and the steps we can take to avoid the serious problems that can arise from the misuse of private information. Although there continue to be security problems associated with paper records, such as theft of mail and misuse of confidential documents, the sphere of electronic data is where we face the greatest risk.
The explosive growth of the digital world has not only increased the volume of data associated with each of us but has transformed the way information is used, kept and disseminated, leading to greater threat of theft and misuse of personal information. Most of us are now regular users of the Internet for an ever-expanding list of purposes, including shopping, conducting financial transactions, social networking, education and entertainment. But as the usefulness of the Internet has increased, the potential for breaches of privacy and the loss of personal data that can cause harm to consumers also has increased.
Fortunately, there are steps we can take to minimize the risk of having our personal data lost, stolen or misused. They include the following:
If you have the misfortune of having your personal data compromised, you can file a complaint with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). You can download a complaint form or file an online complaint at:
You also may call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-422-7128.