Monday, January 29, 2007

NBC reports on a new service to check for the security of your information

NBC4 in Washington DC, on January 29, 2007 discussed a new website that can check whether a social security number of credit card number has been compromised. The link is this. The name of the site is "stolenidsearch." The website has the NBC4 logo on it. The site reportedly looks beyond familiar sources like search engines into arcane resources on the Internet.

The website does urge the visitor to join its monitoring service, although checking a SSN or credit card number is itself free.

Again, I believe that the practice of diligently checking registered preferred addresses (as with NCOA) would do much more to prevent these problems.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Major CNN report

CNN broadcast a major one hour documentary (by Drew Griffin) on this problem on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2007, going into detail with several major schemes used against banks. Much of this is associated with overseas and "Nigerian" activities. Nigeria is said to have very poor financial control laws.

Most of these schemes would not work if banks rigorously checked addresses against a secured NCOA system. Banks have started more address verification of their "security deposit" credit cards for people with poor credit histories.

The program also described fraud in Texas using fake notary stamps and also mailbox addresses. Notary stamps could certainly be more carefully controlled, and mailbox addresses (usually used by people to protect residential privacy, itself a legitimate purpose) could be more secure with a more secure NCOA system from the USPS (requiring a major systems development effort), as described in previous posts.

Many white collar crooks described in this report sounded sociopathic, and claimed they were just "making a living" in a competitive world (what David Callahan calls "The Cheating Culture"). Ideas of right and wrong seem to go bye-bye. One young white collar criminal in prison was very insistent that little could be done to stop people like him, although many of us would strongly disagree.

Banks are still free to share personal information with subsidiaries (unless the customer opts out) and have a lot more work to do with encryption.

There is more at this link.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Quick credit from Amazon dot com

Yesterday I had a sword drill in the issues confronting private information protection. I went to buy Lou Dobbs's new book "War on the Middle Class" from amazon on New Years Day, and I was, upon checkout, greeted with an invitation to get $30 credit if I would get an Amazon Visa card from Chase. Now I already have such a card (from AOL), but in my situation I cannot afford to pass up $30 free books and DVDs, so I filled out the application. It seemed OK, although I could have added others to the account without their knowledge, it seemed. On employment, it seemed to accept being retired as long as you named the company you had retired from. It took about 45 seconds to approve, and did issue a card with a $1000 limit. I hope that the low limit is just a precaution (until I establish bill payment history on the card), and not an indication of a problem that I don't know about. (The free credit reports in September were OK, was were the FICO and Vantage scores.)

Could such convenient credit and freebie offers work in an environment that requires a grantor to perform due diligence and check with a beefed-up NCOA (National Change of Address)? For very small amounts of credit, this would be OK, as long as confirmed by a mailing to the NCOA address within 72 hours to let the person know a new card was taken out in his/her name.