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Tuesday, October 30, 2007


The graphic you are viewing to the left of this post is part of an e-mail blast that was sent out by Southern California junk mail list broker, Fasano and Assoc. to promote some of its “hot lists,” as the headline screams. (See article) Patricia Fasano, who founded and still runs the firm, has been around some 25 years and is a respected professional in the industry. During my 35 years as a junk mail list/data broker, I had dealings with the company, and found the personnel reasonably competent in handling their jobs. But the one weak link in an organization—which is all it takes for an incident like this or worse yet, the loss or misplacement of consumers personal data that can end up exposing the private records of thousands—is exactly what I have been blogging about for almost three years. It is judgment of this type that leads to the mishandling of sensitive data in the junk mail business that has eventually ended up being sold by the identity theft underworld. Fasano has never misplaced or lost data that I know of, but she has also not said that she is firing this moron for sending the e-mail. To show their commitment to fighting the fires, the firm made a donation three days before the e-mail to the California Firefighters Association to buy various equipment. The overall intentions are good, but on this one dumb occasion nobody was watching the store, and that is precisely the kind of situation where your personal data can easily fall through the cracks. A New York public relations firm said Fasano should have had “checks and balances” in place for this kind of incident. They added that they had “never encountered a company without some approval process for ad and public relations copy.” Unfortunately we are experiencing weekly accounts of questionable judgment when it comes to companies managing our names and private information. The most flagrant are those who allow employees to haul off a laptop with all kinds of individual sensitive data and take it home with them, invariably leaving it in their car while they run errands or just leave the machine completely unprotected. Yes, it is more obvious to a person like me who sold your names and personal data, and witnessed episode after episode of incompetence in the junk mail list industry, including multiple examples of this data being exposed to almost anyone who might want to steal it. Fortunately, most of my 35 years were before the identity crooks discovered just how valuable this private information is, but that has changed significantly today. It does mystify me, however, that if these bad guys can recognize what a gold mine consumers’ sensitive data is, why can’t the consumer whose name and personal data it is figure that out? My new motto is: Hold on to your apathy and lose your identity!

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