Saturday, January 19, 2008

Slow boil kills the frog

Both of these are headlines from yesterday's news
A computer tape containing personal data of 650,000 customers of about 230 retailers including J.C. Penney Co is missing, credit card issuer GE Money said on Friday.
and
A laptop containing the personal details of 600,000 new and prospective military recruits has been stolen, the Ministry of Defense said Friday, the latest in a series of government blunders over data.

230 retailers... what does that mean? Should I switch over to cash only. WT$%$ ! I assume yesterday was a normal news day. Should I just assume that these kind of gaffe's are the norm in the modern world or should i be worried?

I admit, I do not get my credit report from Equifax/Experian/Transunion every 4 months. I guess I will have to start doing that. The worrying part here is that as the financial industry works its darnest to make every person use their birth right to credit card, it continues to exacerbate the worst case scenario. The credit card user who does not pay his/her monthly bills in full is most likely also the user who has no idea of the risks he is being exposed to.

Anyways rants aside. Any suggestion for practical solutions to this problem, should I be looking into something like "lifelock" or is one of those long term attitude adjustment problems?

--Update--
I came across this recommendation to apply for a credit freeze with the three major credit bureaus. I am looking into this and if it is not a major hassle, I might go ahead and do this. I urge you to do the same :-) and keep me posted on anything you might find as well.

2 comments:

Corbett said...

When I read the credit freeze portion elsewhere, I was about to go look up something on Clark Howard's website to point you at...and it seems that's pretty much the very thing you already linked to. From what I remember hearing Clark say, it was generally a 'good thing' to do, but that you may not want to do it if you anticipate any major purchases/credit check requiring things in the near term, given that the process of flipping the freeze toggle costs you each time you flip it (and per each bureau, too). For most people, I'd think it probably makes sense to do. I'd consider it. I don't think I've done anything requiring a credit check since I bought my house (at least that I can think of) since 2003. The only other things are maybe when I created an account a prosper.com and an online savings account with HSBC Direct. That is one of the downsides here -- given that I don't know if those operations led to a credit check behind the scenes, I'd hate to freeze my credit and then go do something like one of those, not knowing that it was going to lead to a credit check against now-frozen credit.

Did you go ahead and do it?

amar rama said...

No I have not taken any action yet. I would like to connect with some one who has done this preferably for a year or so to get a feel for the impact. Most likely will do something about it next week, I think.