Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Concern over social announcements in newspapers: that's overdoing it


Monday, The Washington Times, in an insert about cybersecurity for teens, provided considerable discussion of consumer protection for adults, as well. (The blogger entry is here.) The issue was critical even of people announcing weddings, debutante parties, and similar results in local newspapers, as making the subjects targets. This does seem like carrying things a bit far. Newspapers have made social announcements like these for decades without problems. It seems, again, that the underlying problem is carelessness of financial institutions and lenders in identifying customers and following up with proper notification.

In fact, the practice of banks of charging penalties for missing credit card payments by even one day (more acute now as banks have shortened the payment date by five days) may have an upside: it encourages online banking (actually supported by the article) and encourages visitors to check their balances online almost daily, making a heist by hackers less likely. The main hitch is that people who do online banking realize that banks will not ask them to update information with emails, and that all such emails are really phishing attacks, which are really very common and are often sent as spam even to people who do not have accounts at the subject banks. (Often the spam has each bank’s separate embedded trademark image – itself a violation of federal law and an obvious civil trademark infringement and prospective dilution according to recent law -- but the same text.) Since these emails usually result offshore, they have been difficult to shut down.

On Saturday, Sept. 29, NBC4 in Washington had a “community shred” at RFK stadium in Washington (ironically after the Nats ‘s last game there, as they get a new stadium next year). The only problem was that on the same day Washington sponsored a triathlon and driving to the stadium around closed streets got me trapped in a maze.

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