Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Banks send refinance letters to people who don't have mortgages


Not a big thing, but some banks send out prepaid mass mailers offering refinancing and lower mortgage interest rates -- to everyone, including people and homes or condos without mortgages.

A sign of possible identity theft?  A sign of an unknown title problem?

The mailing will have an NMLSR of the agent but not contract number.  (Make sure you don't see one.)

Picture: group housing for CCC "volunteers" in the 1930s in the Blue Ridge. 

Friday, December 05, 2014

"Instant Checkmate" consolidates public records and social media by person, could stimulate more debate on "right to be forgotten"


I’m putting this story here rather than on my main blog because I’ll probably do a bigger follow-up soon.  There is a site called “Instant Checkmate” that aggregates public records of anyone (in the US?) and displays them to any viewer  The news story is told to Jessica Ruane here
  
It even includes salary levels, divorces, weapons licenses, and the like.  I can see people checking out potential dates with it (way beyond the simple Google check).  But what about potential employers?
  
  
The practical issue is that, in the pre-Internet era, people had to go physically to specific courthouses to find public records.  It gave work to private investigators (although Magnum PI – Tom Selleck – stayed in Hawaii). 
  
Will this lead to more interest in “the right to be forgotten” in the US? (Or, "the right to be forgiven"?) 
  
But how often are stolen identities misrepresented in public records? 
  
I have no idea how the data was lifted from the individual jurisdictions.
  
There is an obvious security issue for many people in that it becomes very easy to determine where someone lives. 
  
It’s pretty obvious it can be used to check neighbors, or look for sex offenders. 

The company also says it mines social media.
  
I don’t personally look people up this way.  Sometimes ignorance is bliss.  But I can’t rule out the idea in a specific situation, even at 71.

I would be concerned that the site could be used by loan wolf terrorists (inspired overseas, as by ISIS) to locate where targets live.
  
Picture: This quick mate can occur in the Dutch Defense (if the pawn takes the Bishop, White plays Q-R5 mate!) 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What should I make of an unsolicited line of credit arriving by mail?


Despite some chaos yesterday on the major media, I guess first priority in these blogs is to cover the news I myself witness. Yesterday, for the second week in a row, I received, at my business UPS mail box, an unsolicited Platinum Equipment Lease Card from IMCA Capital in Los Angeles (link) .  Each card offers $100,000 credit.
   
IMCA explains how this works on Wordpress, here.  I’ll let the explanation speak for itself.  It is possible to contact them to delay the credit offer;  I haven’t called yet.
  
I'm not sure why I was "chosen" (rather than "left behind" or "left over").  I suppose that if I get closer to making a film, there would be a case for leasing larger professional cameras and trolleys.  I'm not there yet. 
    
Still, the idea of receiving an unsolicited line of credit (it is not a credit or debit card and did not cause a credit report inquiry) is troubling.  There is the possibility of fraud (the instructions say to call to activate the card immediately for this reason, but should this be done with unsolicited material?) Worse, there could exist the idea that someone could use an account like this for a blatantly unlawful purpose, resulting in the person who is named being framed.
  
However, the company did mail the offering to a known address, which is an identity-theft prevention concept I proposed here Sept. 25, 2006.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Arrests for phony debt collectors chasing consumers for debts they don't owe


Criminal charges are being filed against Williams Scott and Associates LLC in Georgia, for posing as debt collectors or law enforcement, bilking up to 6000 consumers for debts they did not owe.


ABC News has two major reports by Rebecca Jarvis and Dan Good.  The basic link is here.  The calls were reportedly going to all 50 states. 

USA Today has a similar story here

It is illegal according to the FDCPA to make false threats, for example of arrest, or even sometimes lawsuits.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Robosigning and deficiency judgments on foreclosed homes, and debt collectors


The New York Times has a major story Nov. 15 by Gretchen Morgenson, concerning deficiency judgments for foreclosed homes. In most states, borrowers can be pursued for them, particularly Texas and Florida, but not California.  The link is here
  
Fannie Mae has hired debt collection firms to go after borrowers when foreclosure papers had been signed by a “robo-signer redux” process.  That means that proper documentation for the foreclosures may be lacking.
  
   

Way back in 1992, James A Wiedemer had explained the dangers of deficiency judgement in his Michigan-published “A Homeowner’s Guide to Foreclosure.”  This used to be a danger even with unqualified assumptions (or “simple assumption”), which the FHA put a stop to on its approved loans around 1994.  

Friday, November 14, 2014

Newer debit cards should be protected by metal foil when in wallets


There’s a new kind of danger that has surfaced with the newer credit cards and particularly debit cards, with chips, that are supposed to be standard by 2015.  There are devices that could read them, merely by “bumps”, and the cards (particularly debit cards) should be protected by metal – even aluminum foil.  The story was on ABC World News Tonight Thursday but is now on Forbes here. This sounds like Chemistry 101.  
   
The newer cards will make it much harder for thieves to duplicate existing debit cards.  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Banks try to collect debts voided by bankruptcy courts; data brokers exposed debtors to id theft


The New York Times, in a story by Jessica Silver-Greenberg Thursday, reports a troubling practice by some banks which still try to collect bad debts discharged by a bankruptcy, ignoring legal requirements to remove them from credit reports, hoping that some debt will still be paid by the pressure consumes still feel when trying for example, to rent apartments.  The detailed story is here. The practice makes the debt more appealing to debt buyers. 
  
I one time found a $41 “bad debt” on a credit report which had been a Discover Card renewal that had been lost in a relocation.  It had grown by interest from $17.  I mailed an unbilled payment for the original $17 and Discover agreed to remove the item from the report and considered it settled
   
Another problem reported in the NYT today, by Natasha Singer, is that debt brokers have posted personal details about consumers online, making them more vulnerable to identity theft, story here.  The companies in question were Bayview Solutions in St. Petersburg Florida and Cornerstone and Company in Riverside CA. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

US Mail security and identity theft


Television Station WJLA-7 in Washington has a story on identity theft in the physical world, mainly from thefts of unlocked mailboxes common in many homes, especially in rural areas.  The link is here.  At particular risk are people who allow mail to be picked up from outdoor boxes rather than taking them to mailboxes or post offices.

Along with this, NBC Washington on Tuesday had a story advising consumers not to send personal information (especially bank account numbers or credit card numbers) in emails at all, since apparently emails on some servers have been scraped for this information.

Again, a two-step verification of new credit accounts using NCOA, as I suggested in 2006, could go a long way in preventing false identities.  

Monday, October 20, 2014

Does Apple Pay dent the security problems with credit and debit cards now?


Would Apple Pay be more secure than use of plastic credit cards (and especially debit cards)?  Well, yes, experts say that the concept of “tokenization”, Secure Element, and Touch ID (based on fingerprint) provides security comparable to the European chip system for cards, which US banks are supposed to use starting in 2015.  Apple Pay will start with iPhone 6 and only a minority of stores accept it yet. 
      
The fingerprint checking would make stolen phones useless for thieves if implemented properly.  There’s a detailed story in CNET by Marguerite Reardon here.
  
  

But similar security features may be possible with PayPal applications soon.  The overall implication is that traditional bank accounts might not be the safest way to do business forever.  With PayPal, however, I have to watch out for volumes of email spam.  

Thursday, October 09, 2014

States (at least Virginia) use prepaid debit cards for income tax refunds; another invitation for fraud?


Despite all the criticism of debit cards, the Virginia Department of Taxation sends state income tax refunds in the format of debit cards from MasterCard (which whom VA seems to have made a deal to make a little money), the “Way2GoCard” which sounds like a MasterCard trademark. 

Given all the security problems that will exist until the banks and credit card companies implement the European chip technology in 2015, sending tax refunds this way seems a bit tacky.

But banks can deposit the money into a checking or savings account, by “withdrawing” the entire amount, and then creating a deposit clip.  This requires a teller; it can’t be done alone at an ATM.  I just did it yesterday,   

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

US Government (DEA) pulls off identity theft on Facebook


The DEA, part of the US Justice Department, set up a fake Facebook profile based on the identity of a low-level offender, Sondra Arquitt, of Watertown NY, while she waited to be sentenced to probation.  BuzzFeed has a story by Chris Hamby on the incident here
   
The Washington Post has covered the incident in a story by Sari Horwitz here . P. A17 on Wednesday.   The government’s behavior was in direct conflict with Facebook’s own policy that a profile must use the person’s real name and identity, and the profile has been removed.   

Picture: Lunar eclipse, before dawn today.  

Monday, October 06, 2014

A debt collector's tale in the New York Times: mine was not as melodramatic


Jack Halpern has a column in the Sunday New York Times “A Debt Collector’s Day”. P. 7 of the Review Section, with the tagline “Poo people pitted against poorer people to benefit the rich”, link here.  I’m not sure that I would concur with his narrative given my experience working for RMA near St. Paul MN (near the airport and Mendotta Bridge) in the summer of 2003.  We actually followed the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and took it seriously.  Companies that buy debt for pennies on the dollar seem to be more ruthless, and expect their employees to be.  I had an experience with such a company that made a questionable claim on a visa card that had gotten lost in a move, and never gave me a chance to dispute, back in 2000.  There’s a book on the subject that I mentioned here Nov. 6, 2013. 
  
   
If you get a call from a debt collector, know your rights.


Saturday, October 04, 2014

I HAVE to use PayPal after all; is Bitcoin next?


Last night, I needed to make a contribution to secure a reservation for a film screening (“Campaign of Hate: Russia and Gay Propaganda”) at HRC.  When I went to the appropriate website (Reel Affirmations) I found the credit card payment links grayed out and only Paypall working.

It turned out that I do have an old PayPal account, which I reinstated.  I had not used it in years, partly because of all the phishing spam pretending to be it.  Then, late at night, I found that to pay with it, I needed to put money in the account, which cannot be done immediately with a bank (an e-check takes 2 business days), and would require a trip to a retail establishment to pick up a MoneyPak card. 
  
So I went to RiteAid this morning (Saturday) and the clerk didn’t know what it was.  But we found it after a while, and I bought one on a debit card for $100.  There was a $4.95 service fee.  I was able to put the money in the PayPal account when I got home, but I have no way to know if my contribution and ticket reservation went through. 
  
Smaller retailers or non-profits might start expecting consumers to be able to use PayPal.  It is not practical for them to deal with the security problems of handling their own credit card processing, although in the past practically all non-profits have used ticket-processing companies (like Mission Tickets or Brown Paper Tickets, or Ticketmaster) to process the credit cards.
  
Maybe there is a social issue going on here.  Some consumers don’t have credit cards or debit cards or even checking accounts, partly because of poor credit scores.  Maybe some of the non-profits want the more affluent clients to experience “how the other half lives”.  I wonder.  I also now wonder if I could suddenly need to have an active Bitcoin account, even for totally legitimate purposes.  


Update:  Oct. 6.  Called HRC and completed the transaction with a credit card.  I was told the credit card link should have worked   There was no intention to force use of "non bank" resources.   But now I'll keep a small amount on PayPal, just in case this happens again somewhere else.

Update: Oct. 14.  The film is reviewed on the Movie Reviews Blog today. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Occupy movement buys student loan debt, forgives it


The Occupy movement has introduced a new twist in the debt collection world.  It has bought some bad student loan debt for pennies on the dollar and then forgiven it.  NPR has a story on the matter by Anya Kemenetz here. This is only privately funded debt, not federal loans.  Generally, student tlon debt cannot be cleared by bankruptcy.
    
This does seem indeed very “pro-active”.  When I worked for RMA as a debt collector in 2003 while still in Minnesota, one person with “only” a $65 “small balance” asked if I would pay his debt! Sounds Biblical.  Some debtors blamed their problems then on September 11, as if a collector (not living in NY or DC) calling them hadn’t heard of it. 

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Home Depot is the latest big retailer to have a major breach


Home Depot is the latest company with a security breach, apparently affecting debit cards, up to 40 million customers, Wall Street Journal story here

I purchased a small GE replacement refrigerator on a credit card from a Falls Church VA store last spring without incident.

The use of more modern chip technology in both debit and credit cards is beginning to seem more critical and many banks will have it available by 2015.
 
Update: Sept. 19
 
Home Depot offers a statement on the breach here.  
 
Bloomberg Business Week has a detailed story explaining the hack, and how it could affect consumers.   It predicts that 70% of affected consumers may find at least one fraudulent purchase, likely of a big ticket item.  The story also explains the practice of "friendly fraud".  

Friday, August 15, 2014

The underbelly of debt collection, as companies destroy one another


Here is an interesting bombastic "photo story" in the New York Times Friday, "Paper Boys: Inside the Dark, Extremely Lucrative World of Consumer Debt Collection," by Jack Halpern, link here. It seems as though collection agencies try to fool each other, setting up shell companies to steal each other's porfolios.

It also shows the risk that a lot of "street smart" businessmen have to take to make money.  Donald Trump would hire them.  

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Medical identity theft (especially with prescription drugs) gets more attention


The Identity Theft Resource Center has an article on the dangers of prescription fraud for patients, as part of medical identity theft.  Not only might a patient’s financial and credit record be compromised, as she has to prove that the bills aren’t hers, but future treatment decisions might be incorrect if providers believe certain medications were used when they really weren’t.  The link is here. The problem has become compounded by the privacy protections of both HIPAA and now the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

The Identity Theft Resource Center in San Diego offers this video.



The Federal Trade Commission has a link on the issue here. The problem was mentioned briefly yesterday on a DC area local news broadcast (WJLA, I believe).  

Sunday, July 27, 2014

ProPublica: USA Discounters sets a debt trap for military servicemembers


Paul Kiel writes on ProPublica about a company, “USA Discounters” (link) , based in Virginia Beach, that invites US service members to shop and then sues them when they fall behind, using legal loopholes to garnish incomes if overseas servicemembers can’t appear in court. This reminds one of practices in the debt collection industry from companies that buy the debt of others.  The link from Kiel is here.    

Thursday, July 03, 2014

NCOA verification of new accounts would require one step with physical mail


My suggestion to use the USPS NCOA procedure, and forcing financial institutions to check it before issuing loans (September 25, 2006), would depend on the idea that financial institutions actually notify account holders by mail of PINS that require verification.
 
I often get spam emails for credit card bills for accounts that I don't have.  Sounds like ID theft, doesn't it.  But my credit reports never show these accounts.  So these emails (pretending to be from Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays,  and Naval Federal Credit Union, among others) seem to be just plain spam.  But they get through AOL's filters.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Banks have been denying some consumers accounts based on an obscure database (ChexSystems)


Banks have been refusing many individuals checking and savings accounts at all, as they check individuals on a little known database called ChexSystems (customer link).  On Friday, Washington Post reporter Danielle Douglas provided a shocking story on p. A18, Economy and Business, “Bank screening seen as too restrictive”, titled online “Why a guy making $100000 a year can’t get a bank account”, link.  Douglas has another story this week indicating that Capital One (in which I have a little stock) has announced it will not decline new accounts based on this Chex report as in the past.  Phyllis Furman of the New York Daily News also reports on this problem here and reports on Capital One’s action. 
   
Some banks like Wells Fargo offer “second chances” but place restrictions and require a savings account first.
  
I was not aware that individual consumers could be so severely penalized for bounced checks or other debt problems in just getting accounts.  I had heard about this issue in certain businesses, like legal marijuana.  I have only bounced one check in recent years, when I used the wrong book (for a terminated account) to pay a lawn man.  I had one check given to me bounce in 1974 (for about $600) bounced when I was selling a car as I moved into NYC, but the person (a former coworker) made good.  When I lived in New York in the 1970s, I did all my banking at savings banks for a while, finding it paid.  Later, I did use Banco Popular of Puerto Rico.   I almost had a job interview with a French bank.
  
When I worked for RMA in 2003, the debt collector who worked in the next cubicle and coached me and who was very good at it with a low-key approach said he didn’t have a checking account himself.  I thought that sounded strange.

I haven't run into this myself, but it is plausible that, in estate situations, banks could become concerned if heirs or trustees are complying with the terms of their papers.  When you have multiple accounts with different legal entities, it's well to know what you are doing.   
   
It would be a good question as to whether identity theft itself could stop people from being able to get accounts.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

John Sileo offers identity theft prevention tips on the "Rachel" show; some are simple


Rachel, a syndicated cooking and home show on ABC, offered Identity Theft expert John Sileo today.  http://www.sileo.com/ Sileo says he almost went to jail when his identity was stolen, and lost $300000 that has not been recovered.
  
Sileo has authored the book “Privacy Means Profit: Prevent Identity Theft and Secure You and Your Bottom Line”, by Wiley.
  
Sileo suggested not carrying a Social Security Card, and not carrying the debit card around when not needed. He also suggested that insist that your debit card has a picture (mine with Bank of America does) and write “photo id required” on all cards that you use in person. 
  
He suggested putting all critical home documents in a heavy safe (although safes get stolen sometimes). 

It's very critical to protect smartphones with pin codes, should they be stolen in street robberies.
   
  
Since I am retired, I don’t use credit as often as others.  I did check my reports in April before traveling and they were clean.  It is harder to impersonate me than someone with a family and a more complicated financial life.  My having published books probably makes it harder to impersonate me and get away with it, as does an unusual last name.
  
Sileo said that most identity theft comes from three sources: people who know you who are down and out, local criminals (especially drug addicts, who are more prone to dumpster diving), and organized crime.  He also described medical identity theft, which sounds hard to pull off.
 
Sileo is also an expert on data breaches and wireless security.
Identity theft is particularly problematic in an individualistic society that assumes a person is ultimately responsible for the integrity of his own identity and doesn't require businesses and employers to offer the benefit of the doubt. 
   
Lifetime aired a film “Identity Theft: The Michelle Brown Story”, in 2004, about an unbelievable case of theft promulgated by an immigrant domestic employee. 

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Sam's Club offers MasterCard with new EMV chip technology; should be commonplace by Oct 2015


Sam’s Club (associated with Wal-Mart) will become the first major retailer in the US to offer a credit card (in this case, a MasterCard) with EMV computer chip technology, making it harder for identity thieves to duplicate.   The story was in the media Tuesday and was reported in the Wall Street Journal June 4 by Michael Calia, here
     
MasterCard and Visa have set an informal deadline of October 2015 for most major retailers to offer this technology with new or replacement credit cards.  The technology is most critical with debit cards.


Monday, June 02, 2014

Identity thieves want everything from you (ABC)


ABC News has laid it on the line with a story, "the eight numbers that identity thieves want", with the link for the story here. This is one of those annoying articles where you have to click separately to see each tip.
 
Most of these are rather obvious (like social security number).  Some of them are more disturbing, like IP address, or health insurance account number.  If you think about it, it's still far too easy for thieves to get a hold of home addresses (even if not listed) because we have to carry them around on our driver's licenses and passports.  (Oh, the want passport numbers).

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Consumers can fight back against debt buyers


The Business section of the Washington Post has a story by Danielle Douglas about companies that buy debt and then sue consumers, often without adequate documentation of the debt, link here. In print, the story is called “One man’s stand against debt collectors”.  Online, it is more specific as to villain: “Taking on the country’s biggest debt buyer, Midland funding”, link here.  The hero of the news story, the “David” against Goliath, is Leoncio Paz.

The article discusses the lack of uniformity among states as to the documentation required to file suits, with Virginia among the weaker states and even inconsistent among courts within the commonwealth. It sounds like a good political issue for a governor or legislator running for office to take on.

I got dinged in 2000 by a company that had bought a questionable old debt for $125 back from 1981, and it had ballooned to $660.  I wasn’t sure the debt was valid.  Today, I would demand proof that it really existed. 


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Wells Fargo uses upside-down name tags to draw attention to identity theft


Last week, at Wells Fargo, I noticed that clerks were wearing their name tags upside down.  They said that this was a gimmick to draw attention to identity theft protection plans. 
  

I got around to doing the free annual credit report Friday, and found no problems.  All three bureaus ask multiple choice questions about the distant past in doing identity verification.  TransUnion actually ask the trade name of my “publishing company” back in early 2000 that carried my first “Do Ask, Do Tell” book and my “Our Fundamental Rights” book, as a multiple choice question. The answer was “High Productivity Publishing.”  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Metro Transit machine eating debit cards -- another security problem?


Last night, I had a misadventure in at Metro Center, in the Washington DC Metro, adding to my smartcard.  That is, the card reader ate my debit card.  I had to wait forty minutes for a technician to come to open the machine and get the card out. 
  
It turns out there was a regular ticket below the debit card, so apparently the magnetic ticket messed up the machine.  That raises the idea that a thief might insert thin paper cards in the credit and debit card receptacles, with the idea of returning and somehow getting the debit cards out and using them.

Curiously, the machine did not even go out of order, fooling other consumers. 
    
I was on the way home.  Had I been on the way to a paid event, I would have had to either forfeit the ticket or leave the debit card at risk until I could get it canceled on a computer.  I’m not set up yet to do this on a mobile phone.  Maybe I should be.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Biometric validation, even heart rhythm, could replace passwords with online processing, stopping a lot of identity theft cold

Websites in the future may turn to biometric validation rather than passwords, as a way to protect against hackers and particularly identity theft. 

CNN has a big story here.

Four of these are ear shape, typing speed, facial recognition (in use at some facilities), and walk or gait.  One could add retinal scans to that,  which is coming into use (and is sometimes shown in the movies).  It’s hard to see how walk or typing speed could be unique enough.
  
But the most curious innovation is to use heart beat or electrocardiography for identification. The CNN story shows a wristwatch, rather light and narrow, from Bionym, with the "Getnymi" website here  for pre-order.  
  
There is smartphone electrocardiography, but I’m amazed that one could identify a person from their heart dynamics with a tiny sensor underneath a wrist.  Maybe a sensor held on the neck near the carotid artery could make sense.   Typically, a medical electrocardiogram requires 10-12 leads, including 6-8 in the chest area, although sometimes only  2 or 3 are used, as for conscious sedation during long dental procedures.  Heart rate and rhythm vary with activity and body chemistry.  It’s hard to believe that it can be unique.  Sometimes heart patients are monitored for a few days with a Holter device, which requires shaving the chest before.  It’s curious that the video shows a hairy man as the actor. 

  

This little technological development should be watched to see if it is for real.  But the medical questions make me wonder. 

Wikipedia attribution links (1 and 2) for Holter pictures.  

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Debit cards offer on-off switch to hinder fraudulent withdrawals

The New York Times has an informative article by Ron Lieber Saturday in his “Your Money” column, “Consumers not powerless in the face of credit card fraud,” Business Day section, link here. 

Actually most of the article concerns debit cards.  The most innovative strategy is an on-off switch where a smart phone app turn off the card except in a narrow time window when it is to be used.  Another is to maintain two checking accounts, so that another account for recurring payments cannot be drained; but that might need to be at a different institution because hackers could still get to it.  Another (for credit cards) is to use a mechanism that tells you when you are close to a credit limit. 
  

In my own experience last year, companies were very diligent about email notification when there was fraudulent use of stolen cards.   

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Will chip-technology in debit cards really solve the problem?

The media have reported that "chip" technology credit and debit cards will replace today's magnetic stripe technology by late 2015.

But that will not really make a lot of difference unless people have to enter pins -- and probably strong ones, like strong passwords, for every transaction.  

People may have trouble remembering long passwords at ATM's.  They might be able to sync them with smartphones, but these can be stolen, even at gunpoint.

Is this a solution?  

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Electronic Funds Transfer Act can make consumers responsible for their own losses due to lax security of debit cards, if much time passes at all

There's a little more definitive information on the legal rights of credit card holders v. debit card, in case of fraud, in this Washington Post article by Danielle Douglas, "Why you should leave your debit card at home", here.

The governing legislation is the Electronic Funds Transfer Act, and consumers have very little time to detect pilferage, even from other accounts at the same institution that might have some linkage to the debit card indirectly.

The FDIC has a discussion of the EFTA, here

Monday, February 03, 2014

Western Union is still around (for debt collection)

When I went into a SunTrust branch Saturday morning, I saw some freebie cards advertising Western Union payment services near the counter.  I thought this was odd to see in a bank/
 
When I worked as a debt collector in 2003, we were told to create urgency and to pressure debtors to use Western Union to make payments immediately.  If the debtors had credit cards or loans, they shouldn't have been unbanked.  It seemed as though it would be totally unnecessary.

Recently, there have been proposals to let the USPS offer banking and very small loans to low income people.
 
It seems our system is designed to keep some people vulnerable.  

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

NoMoROBO: you need to be able to set up your smart phone properly first

I tried to set up NoMoRobo for my landline, which is now on Xfinity, and found that the Xfinity "Voice 2go" needs to be on my smart phone, which is right now Droid and Verizon.  Xfinity explains the steps here.
 
I do have a droid, but it is looking like this will be much easier after I replace the phone, with the contract due up in February.  And just what the new contract will offer, well, that gets back to the "net neutrality" and data access debate, doesn't it.

It appears that "Voice 2 go" would make it easier to monitor hone landline phone access when on the road, which is a plus for home security.

Everyone is talking about "NoMoRobl", so here is the link. But it may not be quite as simple to set up as the media has made it look.  Liz Crenshaw has recently reported about it on NBC Washington. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Australian teen "charged" for exposing transit system, security flaw; Target wanted to use the smart-chip card technology a decade ago.

An Australian teenager, Joshua Rogers, discovered a major security vulmerability in a transit website in Victoria, with PII of 600000 people.  Once he exposed the vulnerability, he was reported to police!  It sounds like it has something to do with transportation cards.  The technology involved as an SQL injection attack.

Timothy B. Lee has a story on the "Switch Blog" on the Washington Post, Jan. 9, link.

The vulnerability might be similar to problems at retailers, as the number of people potentially vulnerable to identity theft because of the breach at Target and several other retailers increases.

On NBC4 in Washington, Liz Crenshaw reported that you have only 2 days to report money missing because of a debit card misues, and after 3 days you're on the hook for the first $500.  After a week or so, the entire amount. Some reports say that over $4 billion might be pilfered from debit cards that had been used at Target and other retailers.

Target had wanted to install smart chips on its cards 10 years ago, Wall Street Journal story by Pail Ziobro and Robin Sidel (paywall) here.  

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Lenders starting to look at social media postings of applicants: do they find the right ones?

NBC Washington is reporting that a few financial institutions or loan companies are starting to check social media to help determine if people are good credit risks, in addition to using credit reports and FICO or Vantage scores.

Lenders may look for comments about job loss, specifically. They would be less likely to find comments that are whitelisted to friends or followers only.

It’s pretty obvious that there would be a risk of finding the wrong social media profile, as many names are similar and not so easy to distinguish.

Of course, the issue with employers is well known.
  
This report will be followed carefully.


Sunday, January 05, 2014

Maryland foreclosures increase, as unintended consequences of consumer protectionism; deficiencies a different matter

NBC Washington reports additional complications on the foreclosure issue discussed here Jan. 1.  Maryland is one of the states requiring court approval of foreclosures.  That was supposed to protect consumers.  (Texas, for example, does not.)  But the slow-down as a result shortly after the 2008 crisis has resulted in increased foreclosures in Maryland more recently, with some homeowners chased because of small arrears.  The story is here
   
Can someone really be chased for deficiency in an identity theft situation where the “real” person never really had title to the property?  This would sound like a bigger danger in states that don’t have judicial supervision of foreclosures. 


Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Maryland will reduce time lenders can seek deficiency judgments from upsidedown borrowers

The Maryland legislature will consider a bill reducing the time a foreclosure note holder has to pursue a borrower for a deficiency judgment after evicting the owner during the foreclosure.  It would reduce the time from 12 years to just six months, making Maryland one of the stricter states on lenders. A number of states limit this time, and three states (Kansas, South Carolina and Illinois) require deficiency judgments to be brought at the time of foreclosure.
   
The Washington Post has a story by Kimbriell Kelly and Steven Rich Dec. 31  here
    
It wasn’t clear whether this could apply to a foreclosure brought by an association over dues.
   
But it is true that homeowners can still accrue interest owed after foreclosure, and be shocked to get a call from a debt collector over the matter.  They would have to be served, however, and know that a deficiency had been sought.
    
Deficiency judgments became an issue in the 1990s on some parts of the country, like Texas, after the savings and loan crisis.  They may have been less common relatively speaking after the 2008 subprime crisis.

James Wiedemer wrote a primer, an orange paperback, “A Homeowner’s Guide to Foreclosure” as far back as 1992. In the 90s, sometimes original holders of assumed notes could get stuck with deficiencies of subsequent owners, under FHA and other lenders started requiring assumption buyers qualify.