Brrr. And Stuff

Screen Shot 2017-09-09 at 7.29.39 AMWith early morning temperatures hovering in the mid 40s around here, the dawn bike rides have pretty much come to an end for the season. I have to put it off until close to mid day when the temps get up to around 60 or so. This upcoming week is supposed to be warmer, but I have to face the fact that the bike season is going to be over in the very near future and it’s going to be back to walking and jogging to try to get exercise, so I’d better check out the treadmill and make sure it’s in good shape. A lot of streets here in town don’t have sidewalks at all, so if you’re a walker/runner you’re either forced out onto the slush and salt covered streets and risking cracking your head open when you slide on the ice, or you look for indoor alternatives.

IMG_0053Despite the cold mornings, it’s still amazingly beautiful out there. I’m determined to enjoy it while I can because it isn’t going to be long before it looks like this over there on the right.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m one of those weird people who actually likes winter. But even I have to admit that as I get older my tolerance for cold has diminished.

I keep telling myself every winter that I really need to get outside with the camera because snowscapes and winter scenes can be amazingly beautiful. But then there’s the whole thing with the feet turning into blocks of ice, fingers going numb, the camera’s focus freezing up and all that.

Equifax debacle – By this time you’ll have heard about the Equifax data theft incident where apparently everyone’s SS number, name, address, date of birth and other identifying information was stolen. Basically if you’ve ever had a credit card, applied for a loan, etc., your data was in the system and it got stolen. Mine did, my kids’ data, my wife’s… Pretty much everyone I know who’s checked was hit.

So if you’re wondering if you’re one of us, you almost certainly are. I won’t give you the web address to go to check at Equifax. That info is available all over. Just make sure you go to the right one and not some phishing site. You can be sure that in the coming days the scammers will be trying to take advantage of the situation with phony credit monitoring services and other BS. So be careful out there.

If you’ve been hit, what do you do? Do you sign up for the one year of free monitoring the company is offering? How much good it will do is questionable, but it might give an early alert if something starts to happen. The thing is, the company is only offering you one year of free monitoring, but that data that was stolen is going to be out there forever. Just because it wasn’t used in one year doesn’t mean it won’t be used next year, or the year after.

You should seriously consider freezing your credit entirely. Yes, you can do that. If nothing else, that should prevent scammers from using your identity to open up new lines of credit, take out loans in your name, etc. You have to do it with all three credit bureaus, and there are fees involved. That depends on the state you live in.

I’m going to do something I don’t normally do very often, recommend someplace to go to for advice and information. That’s Clark Howard’s website .  Clark Howard’s website will give you information on what to do, how to monitor your credit for fraud, and how to freeze your credit.

I’ve heard of several incidents where the Equifax site is giving conflicting information about whether or not a person has been hit by this. One person checked on the Equifax site and was told it “appeared” they were not. She checked again a few hours later, and was then told she was. She went through the process again a short time later, and was told again that she wasn’t. In any case, Equifax isn’t giving any firm answer. There are a lot of “might”, “maybe”, “apparently” and other weasel words being used with no actual confirmation.

There are a whole lot of questions that need to be answered over this. Like how did this happen? Why wasn’t this data heavily encrypted so even if it was stolen it would be useless? And why did two or more corporate officers sell their stock in the company after the breech was discovered but before the data theft was made public?

I can’t leave you all depressed and worried, so here’s a flower to cheer you up.

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4 thoughts on “Brrr. And Stuff

  1. I saw that if you sign up for the free monitoring you are waiving your right to sue them in the inevitable class action lawsuit. I guess they just wanted to throw a little extra acid in your face.

    With all the breaches of security in the last 10 years, I wonder if we will arrive at a place where identity is so muddy that credit scores become useless. I mean the hot take is Yeah – get rid of the credit score. It’s a mess of bad algorithm biases. But of course our whole economic backbone is supported on the faith of credit. And I think having no mysterious oracle to consult would cause serious market problems.

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    • Equifax was a leading lobbyist in an effort to try to get congress to make legal these “terms of service” agreements that claim that if you use the service, you agree not to sue. From what I’ve been seeing, that arbitration clause does not apply in this case.

      The most irritating thing about this is that most of these breaches are preventable. And if they stored all of their data using strong encryption, even if someone did steal it, it wouldn’t do them any good. One of the biggest problems is that the actual people at the company are never held accountable for this kind of thing. If they would start jailing some CEOs and boards of directors for criminal negligence I suspect their security would be a lot better.

      The whole credit score thing has gotten totally out of control. Far too many people are using it when it isn’t necessary. And as you point out, the system is often badly biased as well. And with all of these data breaches going on as well, the whole system is going to come tumbling down.

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      • I doubt if the bias will tumble the system, but the breaches causing an out of control identity credit theft could. We might end up living on cash. Imagine! Most of the middle class would have a seizure if they had to live on the money they currently earn. ;-D
        But out of control credit theft would definitely lead to a collapse of trust which would lead to an economic collapse. A better system needs to created.

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        • You’re absolutely right. It would lead to a failure of the whole credit system, and our entire economy pretty much depends on it. The whole banking and finance system is based on trust. The money we all think we have? It doesn’t really exist. Except for the few dollars in cash I have in my wallet, my money is nothing more than numbers in computers. Same with all of us. If they can’t get a handle on this kind of thing and shut it down, it’s going to be a financial disaster.

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