Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Real ID Act: a possible tool?

Homeland security expert Randall J. Larsen, in his book "Our Own Worst Enemy" (Grand Central Press, 2007) discussed, among many other ideas, the possible benefits of a national id card. He mentions the REAL ID Act of 2005, officially named Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief, 2005. The bills were HR 418 and 1268. Bush signed it into law in 2005. But the enforcement of the Act has been postponed until December 2009. The Wikipedia reference, well cited, is here.

Civil libertarians criticize proposals for national ID cards, which could even include encodings related to retinal or iris prints. However, supporters believe that they might make it much easier to prevent enormous crimes. Furthermore, they (like USPS NCOA use as a master reference, as I have proposed) could give banks, car dealers and other lenders a reliable way of identifying borrowers, therefore protecting consumers. Larsen points this out.

Monday, September 10, 2007

More on credit card due dates rolling forward

I reported, on Aug. 7, about the practice of credit card companies of shortening the payment period from 25 to 20 days. Several companies, including Bank of America and Sun Trust have done this. I called both companies, and both said they would push back the statement mailing dates by five days in order to make the due date what it was before, but that would take two billing cycles. Since I missed one date by 3 days when I missed this, I had a $29 penalty which I got reversed. Bank of America said that this did not get reported as delinquent to affect FICO score until it was 30 days late.

I also noticed, with Chase, that online access gets lost if a security package (McAfee) deletes the cookie in its weekly scheduled scan. But that’s probably a good thing.

Furthermore, I found that Bank of America had given me three American Express accounts (even though the cards were marked “Visa”) which I did not request. From a FICO point of view, it’s not a good idea to have too many unused cards.

It’s a good idea to have all of your credit statements online to check, however, not just for the usual unauthorized purchases (although this does happen at gas stations when the consumer fails to pick up the printed receipt or a transaction somehow fails – you can use another card and then the original transactions shows up anyway as a double billing – this has happened with Exxon / Mobil). One reason is to make sure that there are no illegal transactions posted on your account by criminal activity from someone else, a hacker, or someone wanting to frame someone (remember the “absolute liability offense” on my Internet safety blog Feb 3 and Feb 25 entries – access through the Blogger Profile). It’s a good idea to be able to see all of the transactions conveniently; paper statements are too easy to lose.