How Product Recall Notifications Work

Protecting Your Information

Receive recalls on car parts.
Receive recalls on car parts.
Photo courtesy Dreamstime

The Privacy Act of 1974 requires each of the federal agencies handling product recalls to post their privacy policies explaining its online information practices. In all cases, they must protect your e-mail address.

To read any of the privacy policies, visit their Web sites and type Privacy Policy in the box labeled Search. According to the policies, each agency stores e-mail addresses and doesn't share the information with other agencies. Agencies keep address in a Systems of Records, or SORS, which are either electronic or hard copy files. The particular agency controls these files and retrieves them by a name or personal identifier.

The NHTSA privacy policy states the agency is committed to properly securing the information collected online. The other federal agencies follow the same rules, protecting your e-mail address by:

  • Employing internal access controls to ensure that the only people who see your information are those with a need to do so to perform their official duties
  • Training relevant personnel on the agency's privacy and security measures so employees know what is required for compliance · Physically securing the areas holding the hard copies of the information collected online
  • Backing up (copying computer files to a second medium, such as a disk or tape, as a precaution in case the files get lost or erased) all service request information collected online to insure against loss
  • Using technical controls to secure the information collected online, including but not limited to Secure Socket Layer (SSL), encryption, firewalls and password protection
  • Periodically testing security procedures to ensure personnel and technical compliance
  • Employing external access safeguards to identify and prevent unauthorized attempts of outsiders to cause harm to the stored information.

The government goes to great lengths to guard its information. Still, no system is foolproof, and there's a small chance hackers or spammers could compromise your information. Hackers are people who break into computers over the Internet, while spammers send annoying and repeated junk e-mails. Tampering with a government Web site or its information may be punishable under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 and the National Information Infrastructure Protection Act.

Keep in mind there's no electronic notification system for motor vehicles, child safety seats, tires, recreational boats, personal watercraft, boat manufacturer installed equipment, pesticides, fungicides or vehicle emissions. You'll have to go to the various Web sites and search their databases.

It pays -- with the health and safety of you, and your family and friends at risk -- to stay informed of product recall notifications.

For lots more information on product recall notifications and related topics, check out the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

More Great Links