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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

FTC Looks At Junk Mail Negative Option

The Federal Trade Commission all of a sudden wants to “understand” the use of negative option in junk mail. I was in the industry for 35 years and it has been going strong during that time. Columbia House tried to drop it several years back and almost went under. The practice involves sending you a notice of something the company is going to ship automatically, if you don’t say no. I hate it! Had to chastise Writer’s Digest twice for sending unordered books. Most companies pay the return postage, but this is still the opposite of convenience if it’s something you don’t want. As with most recent FTC action, they’ll study it until everyone has forgotten the original purpose of the study.

TJ Maxx Data Breach Opens Can of Worms

Data breaches occur so frequently these days that they are barely worth mentioning. However, the recent hacking into the T.J. Maxx discount chain’s computers has produced different results from both the consumer and business sides, according to the InformationWeek Blog. In Patricia Keefe’s article, the consumer was violated through inadequate security, having their data kept for longer than legal periods, and responding to the problem a month after, with an attitude of, “You’re on your own.” On the business side, fines are being assessed for violating the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. AmeriFirst has already filed a class-action lawsuit against TJX, TJ Maxx’s parent company, and its card processor, Fifth Third bank. WMAQ-TV, Chicago, reported a shopper embarrassed when her credit card was declined, due to cancellation by TJ Maxx. More on this in future blogs.

2006 “Kind of Disaster” for Data Security

Liz Gasster, acting director and general counsel, Cyber Security Industry Alliance (CSIA) is “discouraged” with Washington’s lack of attention to data security, and calls 2006 a “kind of disaster,” for this issue. According to Roy Mark in, she faults Congress the most for inadequate legislation, and the private sector for continuing to lose our sensitive data. Gasster brings up encryption, which, when used on our private information, is supposed to make it burglar-proof. Not completely true with current standards established in 1994, but this could change at the behest of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). More. The problem is, like hackers finding new ways to beat spy-ware, the encryption algorithm periodically becomes obsolete…like now.

Javelin Strategy & Research Releases “2007 Identity Fraud Survey Report”

Javelin’s 2007 Report on Identity Fraud is out and, although there is a 12 percent decrease, there is even more reason to keep up our defenses. The crooks are starting to specialize, like in retail chains, reflected in the recent hacking into the TJ Maxx computers, covered above. The same people had broken into systems at other retailers in a well orchestrated, concentrated attack, which proves the level of sophistication reached. Victims are down due to targeted specialization. Identity fraud still costs Americans and business a total of $49.3 billion each year, with the average individual loss at $5,720. Younger Americans beware: the 18 to 24 age group. You’re the ones at most risk due to your higher degree of apathy over the issue. You’re not alone; most consumers have similar sentiments.

Gartner Research Reports Consumers’ Security Concerns in 2006

Gartner says that nearly $2 billion was lost in E-Sales in 2006 because people are not comfortable with Internet security. Half of that from shoppers who refuse to shop online because of security concerns. Almost half of U.S. adults are worried someone will steal their sensitive data. Washington: We have a problem! But does any one of us think Congressional leaders will listen? Of course not. That is until American consumers form a grass-roots effort to take back control of their names and personal data. While we’re at it, pay us each time it is sold. I’m taking names so if you’re willing to sign up, e-mail me at

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