In the wake of the legislature passing a new bill strengthening online consumer protection, the state's new Privacy Officer has some cautions for consumers.

Former web guru Alex Alben himself says he's been a victim of hacking.   According to Northwest Cable News, he has a letter on the wall of his new office from last year, saying his identity might have been compromised in the Premera data breach that was recently reported.

Alben will be charged with working with companies and officials to better protect the data in state agencies; and will advise state officials on creating privacy policies.

One of Alben's first cautions to consumers was, read the terms and conditions found on websites before making a purchase, enrolling in a program, or agreeing to share any personal information.  He says regardless if it's a "legitimate" company, read the fine print before clicking "I accept."

We've all seen this tiny print, which you have to scroll down through for minutes to get the full meaning, but Alben says it's important.  Not all, but some companies bury in the fine print that they may sell or share your personal information with third parties for profit.  That can result in more chances for your identity to be stolen.

The new bill passed by the legislature requires, among other things, for companies to notify the state and public within just a few weeks of any suspected data breaches. In the past, months often went by before they were made public.

So, always read the disclaimers, fine print and clauses before clicking "I accept."

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