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Thursday, November 08, 2007


DUMBING DOWN ON PRIVACY


Here’s a question for which there is an easy answer. Should we have a “Do-Not-Track” list for people who do not want their Internet habits collected and stored? Of course! Look at the success of the Federal Trade Commission “Do-Not-Call” list; over 145 million have signed up. The Washington Post has an article exclaiming the support for the Do-Not-Call list by privacy, consumer and technology groups, while Internet companies are doing their best to increase tracking. Modeled after the FTC’s DNC registry, registrants would already be familiar with the sign-up process, making it an almost effortless procedure. One group says the industry regulates itself by allowing people to opt out of cookies, but privacy advocates have said self-regulation doesn’t work because the opt-out process is too complicated. We’ll keep a close eye on this one. The Seattle man, Gregory Kopiloff, who heisted $73,000 from 50 people by using online file-sharing programs to commit identity theft, made a plea agreement acknowledging his guilt. (See MSNBC) Kopiloff used the programs to access victims’ computers for their personal information including tax returns, credit reports, bank statements and student financial aid applications. It’s pretty simple to get into your system if you are a part of the file-sharing network, but, interestingly, Kopiloff also took the old-fashioned approach of stealing mail and searching in trash cans to get his information. The guy could get up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for his shenanigans. Just one more example of the sophistication of the identity bad guys. Credit card mailings are down somewhat in 2007, according to junk mail industry publication, Direct. However, the year is still projected to produce the third largest volume since 1988. The figures for 2007 are forecasted to be 5.3 billion pieces of unsolicited credit card mail, each of which is one of the best sources available to ID thieves to steal your identity. This will in turn produce some 32 million applications, and with each new approval will come an onslaught of credit card advance checks, again, a primary stockpile of resources for the crooks. Although TV and the Internet are stealing some of junk mail’s glory, the frightening fact is that for the foreseeable future, more than 50 percent of unsolicited credit card solicitations will continue to come to your mailbox. Thought you were safe in front of that webcam? Think again, says Popular Mechanics. Like the PM piece explains, you’re connected to a computer. Anything can happen, including a hacker invading your machine and looking at you. However, your virus protection should help prevent this along with a good firewall, but both must be up to date. Your credit score, or rather a reasonable facsimile, is being sold by a major junk mail data broker. Focus USA has come up with over 62 million names they have scored with a system they say is “created to identify FICO-like industry credit scores using historical patterns of credit usage and payment behavior.” The list name is “Credit Score Index,” (CSI) and it is based on individual data but aggregated to the zip+4 level (grouping of 5 to 10 households) to allow the data broker to sell it to junk mailers for all types of offers except firm offers of credit. But it can be used by credit card companies to solicit new accounts, and this additional source could push the 5.3 billion figure, above, for unsolicited credit card mailings much higher.

2 comments:

Tony said...

Would you take a look at a new service called Unlist Assist? You can find it at unlistassist.com - it is a new service that helps remove people from 40 of the top people search and marketing databases to help individuals take back control of their personal information.

If you use this promo code it will save you $10 (UAPROMO07)

Thanks!

Leonard said...

I saw the service and I like it. I signed up and got a welcome kit in the mail and it works!