05 July 2007

Data Breaches, Junk Mail and Pesky Telephone Calls

July 3, 2007 10:46 AM PDT

Credit agency suffers 'misappropriation' of 2.3 million consumer records

Posted by Robert Vamosi

Florida-based Fidelity National Information Services on Tuesday announced a "misappropriation of consumer data" by a former employee of its Certegy Check Services subsidiary.

The former employee allegedly sold 2.3 million consumer records to a data broker who, in turn, sold the information to various marketing organizations. The records contained information on 2.2 million bank accounts and 990,000 credit card accounts, according to FIS.

"We have no reason to believe that the theft resulted in any subsequent fraudulent activity or financial damage to the consumer, and we are taking the necessary steps to see that any further use of the data stops," Certegy President Renz Nichols said in a statement.

As a precaution against identity theft, Certegy has notified major credit agencies and plans to soon notify all consumers affected by the data breach.

Well, well, well...

I have wondered about what happens to all that data, lost and stolen from business and government alike. I have suggested for a few years that the PII (personal identifying information) that has come up missing was not being exploited for fraudulent purposes but being purchased by marketing companies and debt collection companies.

Lo and behold, what do we have here but a disclosure by Fidelity's check clearing and collection arm Certegy, that 2.3 million sets of PII have been sold to a company responsible for filling the mailboxes of America with the pulp of dead trees, only to be trashed within minutes of its being reviewed by their erstwhile recipients. Where are the enviro-wackos to protest this abuse of precious American forestry products?

This discovery is further verified by recent studies including from the Government Accounting Office which demonstrate that while the number of victims of data breaches is quite high, identity theft resulting from a breach is unlikely.

One day, when the facts are beating the hype, people may come to realize that there are "breaches" and then there are "breaches". Those of us who are active professionally in identity theft matters have known for quite some time that there is a difference between a malicious theft or release of information such as a hacking attack and the loss of a computer which happened to have a file with the PII of a pool of consumers.

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Hopefully, this story is the proverbial tip of the iceberg and that more marketing pull breaches will be revealed. But names per dollar will continue to be big business for marketers and debt collectors as it is for id theft fraudsters until the cost of penalties match the value of direct mailing campaigns.

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What Words Offend Arabs? The Truth.

Children's Poetry Booklet Recalled After Arabs Complain
(Israeli censorship kowtows to Arabs.
When Will We Tell The Truth Without Fear)

(IsraelNN.com 7 Sivan 5768/June 10, '08) Ynet's web site and Arab complaints against a ten-year-old boy's poem about terrorists has resulted in the recall of all of the Nes Ziona municipality's children's poetry booklets.

Ynet boasts that its coverage of the poem resulted in its being recalled.

The text of the poem (Ynet's translation):

Ahmed's bunker has surprises galore: Grenades, rifles are hung on the wall. Ahmed is planning another bombing!What a bunker Ahmed has, who causes daily harm.Ahmed knows how to make a bomb. Ahmed is Ahmed, that's who he is, so don't forget to be careful of him.We get blasted while they have a blast!Ahmed and his friends could be wealthy and sunny, if only they wouldn't buy rockets with all their money.

Poetry competition director Marika Berkowitz, who published the booklet, was surprised at the protests and told Ynet: "This is the boy's creation and this is what he wanted to express. Of course there should be a limit, but I think the there is no racism here. 'Ahmed' is a general term for the enemy. These are the murmurings of an innocent child."

The Education Ministry told Ynet: "The local authority that published the booklet should have guided the students in a more correct manner through the schools. The district will investigate the issue with the local authorities."
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