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Wednesday, March 12, 2008


A majority of Americans want something done to protect their sensitive data (54% indicate their desire for Congress to pass legislation for this reason), and 52% of you have “very little” or “no confidence at all” that business uses your private information properly. A Harris Poll found that 35% of the population has “very high privacy concerns,” 79% feel it is extremely important that the personal data collected is controlled, and 32% placed their personal privacy above investigating possible terrorist threats. A frightening one-third of consumers admit they don’t know what to do in the case of identity theft. So why don’t we see headlines in the news trumpeting the fact that there is consumer retaliation against business and government for losing our personal data? Something like the MSNBC article from Business Week, “Customer backlash against bad service,” which discloses the lousy service that has been building for some time, and the fact that in 2007, “consumers finally dropped the hammer.” Bad customer service is irritating. ID theft can be devastating. Jena McGregor, author of the piece, says a certain degree of extremism is popping up, which translates into doing what is necessary to get results. Hey, I’m all for improving the kind of service we get from people in business and government that are put there to perform this function, and in many cases this will have to start at the top and work itself down. But I would also like to see people raise hell because some moron took a laptop home loaded with his company’s or federal agency’s data that includes yours and my private information, and it ends up being stolen. In the MSNBC article, one guy posted his complaint on the blog, ComcastMustDie, about the cable and Internet provider’s poor service. Someone should have started a blog back in early 2007 that read, “TJXMustPay,” about the 94 million personal credit card numbers lost by the parent of TJ Maxx and Marshalls stores. The major reactions by consumers to the identity crisis so far is a flood of people signing up for paid ID theft protection that they could do on their own, and an increasing number of folks (50,000 to 70,000) putting freezes on their credit reports, also costly. See more on freezes in the blog, I’ve Been Mugged. These are the result of scare tactics used by the companies providing the protection, and credit bureaus that initiate the freezes. The right consumer attitude is to take responsibility for this important area by demanding control over your name and personal data. In the statistic, above, 79% of you feel it is extremely important that the personal data collected on you is controlled. There is no one better than yourself to do that.

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