What’s your data privacy worth to you?
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What’s your data privacy worth to you?

Do you value your ID number, employment history, address, relationship status, cellphone number and email address enough to stop people who don’t have a legitimate right to it from accessing it?

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Here’s the thing - we expect government and businesses to protect our data - and POPIA - the Protection of Personal Information Act - should finally be in force about 18 months from now, but equally, we have a responsibility to value our privacy enough to protect it.

I had a really interesting chat with Jeannine Naude Viljoen, credit bureau Transunion’s head of legal, this week. She made the point that many people give away personal information for a few free ‘trinkets’.

“People supply their ID number and other personal information to enter competitions on social media, get free WiFi or download a free app," she said.

“Is that all your personal information is worth to you?”

It’s a really good question.

The Cape Town-based loyalty programme consultancy Truth, which commissions an annual survey of South Africans who take part in loyalty programmes found that many people are prepared to give up their personal information in order to get extra points or rewards.

Maybe you’ve worked out that that’s a good trade-off; or maybe you didn’t attach enough value to your personal information.

And do we even know what we’re allowing people to do with our information? No, because we don’t read the terms and conditions, we just click to say we have. Right? Really bad idea!

Find out what permissions you are giving up on your phone when you use certain apps or what the user agreements say about how your data will be used.

I must admit, I’ve been guilty of signing up for free stuff without checking out what it’s costing me. I was in Ireland with my US-based IT specialist sister a couple of weeks ago, and I was signing up for every bit of free WiFi I could, supplying my email address and phone number constantly. She thought I was insane. She doesn’t pay what South Africans do for data, but still!

Another thing - it’s a good idea to switch off Facebook’s integration with apps function completely, so you won’t be able to log into apps, games and other websites using your Facebook account. All you need to do is go to Settings, Apps and Websites and Plugins, then select Edit and Disable Platform.

Using your Facebook account to login to another app - we keep getting prompted to do that - allows companies to collect more data and build an in-depth profile about you and your activity.

And don’t be so willing to provide your ID number when asked to - in many cases, the person asking for it has no legitimate right to it. Just say no.

And then there’s the issue of your privacy settings on Facebook - it’s not a good idea to have open settings - the tighter the better.

And change the setting to require your permission to be tagged in photos… Any employer will tell you that they do a deep dive into every job candidate’s social media platforms - any racist or other forms of inappropriate posts or photos can cost you a job.

It’s literally a digital tattoo.

There’s a quick way to up your privacy - tap the question mark to the right of the Home screen and select Privacy Check-Up. This will allow you to see privacy settings on posts, apps and your profile. And edit them.

There’s a very big filing cabinet of information about us and how well we manage our financial affairs, or not - it’s our credit profile, sitting on the various credit bureaus, available to credit providers, employers and the like.

But guess what percentage of South Africans take advantage of their right to check their credit profile, free?

Less than 2 percent. That’s astounding, especially given that a huge portion of the adverse listings - the ones that mess up your record and make it impossible for you to get new listings - are prescribed and should be removed.

Know what’s sitting on your credit record - it’s really important.

SA has four main credit bureaus and all of them has to, by law, give you free access to your record once a year. So that means you can get a free report every quarter if you wanted to.

Get in there and take a look at what companies can see about you. See how, below. And if there’s an inaccurate listing on it, you have the right to ask the bureau to remove it.

It really does pay to know your status. It’s your information - know it, guard it. Because you’re worth it!

Where to check your credit record for free. The NCA entitles you to one free credit record check a year, with each bureau. Here are the contact details of four major credit bureaus:

Find an adverse listing on your credit record?

If you disagree with a listing, you can lodge a dispute with the credit bureau. If, after 20 days, the adverse listing remains, you may approach the Credit Ombud for help.

Call 0861 662 837, e-mail [email protected] or send an SMS to 44786, and they will call you back.

ALSO: On-the-road fees - what are they costing you?

To contact Wendy, go to her Facebook page and click on the send email tab.

In case you missed any of the past Consumerwatch shows, find them below:

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