THE COLOR OF MONEY
Keeping your data secret is up to you
By Michelle Singletary
If you had to guess, how many companies would you say have enough of
your personal data stored in various databases to make even a rookie
crook ready for prime-time conning?
You probably don't know the answer, and that is the problem.
In the last six months, the personal data of millions of consumers
have been lost, stolen, or sold to thieves. The most recent case
involved a financial unit of Citigroup Inc. CitiFinancial, which
provides a wide variety of consumer loan products, said that personal
information (Social Security numbers, loan account data, and
addresses) of 3.9 million customers was lost by UPS in transit to a
credit bureau. So far, CitiFinancial said it has no reason to believe
the information has been used inappropriately.
Every time we hear of one of these cases, the companies involved tell
their customers not to worry. Trust us, they say. They pledge to
enhance their security procedures.
[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I never hear the companies involved nor
the credit bureaus nor the carrier service say they have followed
through with an audit on the paperwork; showing _who_ signed for the
files when taken from the company, nor _which of their personnel_
accepted it, nor _when, exactly_ it somehow got lost. And this leads
me to believe that maybe occassionally the tapes never got picked up
by the carrier but instead got picked up by some imposter/phisher
who merely claimed to be the carrier. PAT]