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What to look for in a privacy policy

Who sees your information?
Who sees your information? © Sergey Nivens/

Now you know what is being collected and how it's being used. But who else gets a gander at your personal information? Many companies share consumer information with affiliates and third parties. It's important to know who those parties are.

Look out for phrases such as "trusted partners" or "selected companies" and what they do, says Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy at Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

"In some cases, companies may share for order fulfillment, if they outsource it," says Stephens. "It will be difficult to handle that order without sharing."

But in other instances, companies may share the information for "service enhancement" or "marketing purposes," says Jordan Kovnot, another privacy attorney at OlenderFeldman LLP.

"Which basically means we can rent, sell or give away everything we know about you to whoever we please," he says.

Look for opportunities to opt out of the sharing, says Gibson. Financial institutions are required by law to allow you to not have your information shared with certain third parties. Other companies may offer opt-out provisions. Otherwise, you may be out of luck.

"There's only so much you can opt out from," says Gibson.


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