Java Zen:Thinking Out Loud Wednesday, 2017.04.26
Being generous is inborn; being altruistic is a learned perversity. No
resemblance--

		Robert Heinlein, "Time Enough For Love"

2006.06.11

You Don’t Belong To You

The Orlando Sentinel reports:

A new state law that would allow Floridians to block access to their credit histories could be superseded by one of several federal proposals now working their ways through Congress.

Consumer advocates say one of the federal measures in particular would eviscerate the state “security-freeze” law, which was designed to protect credit files from identity theft.

I’ve been an advocate for such a credit report freeze for a long time. Credit checks are a critical link in the chain of events leading to identity theft. Anyone attempting to use your personal data to acquire a credit card, cell phone account or plethora of other items and services typically has to clear the credit check hurdle. In my experience, this has largely been regarded as a mere formality, something to breeze through on your way to acquiring that wicked kuel widget. If the vendor hit a credit lock, the bell would ring and stop the transaction.

I have not had my identity stolen, but I do have an Evil Twin. Some deadbeat dad with almost the same name as I (different middle name.) Since first becoming aware of this cretin during my first semester as an undergraduate, its been periodic waves of cleaning this bum’s stain off of my life. I’ve been sued by hospitals for Evil Twin’s unpaid medical bills, chased by the State of Alaska for child support to the tune of $40,000 (I have no children), harassed by a correspondence school in New York for non-payment of course materials and bunches of other bill collection issues. Some of Evil Twin’s slime ended up on my credit report and it took two years of effort to clear the record.

Had I been able to lock my credit report, this piece of the headache would have been prevented. The time measured in years it takes to clear a credit record is more than offset by the relatively infrequent delay in completing large item purchases (the ones that typically require a credit check.) And that’s all it is, a delay. I have every confidence the vendor will be interested in my money even after waiting a week or two.

But unfortunately for you and I, the credit card companies are not particularly interested in our pain and suffering. That’s all just collateral damage under the bridge in the name of maximizing business profits.

The Industry wants to limit the opportunity to freeze a credit history to those victimized by ID theft or those who have good reason to suspect their personal financial information has been compromised.

“The Industry” isn’t interested in preventing our suffering but they are willing to let us close the barn door after the horse has run off. Consider this: Its as if “The Industry” has control over all the doors on your house and by default all those doors are unlocked. This is so they can walk in when they please and entice you with nifty bobbles and shinny trinkets. They cannot do this if you control the locks. However, if your house is robbed and everything of value cleaned out, “The Industry” is gracious enough to let you lock the doors so that vast stash of nothing you have won’t be stolen.

I suspect most of the population has a purchasing strategy that doesn’t go much beyond their brain stem and can be summed up as “See shinny object. Bite.” But then there’s the rest of us who give due consideration to our purchases. A minority who are capable of independently determining what are our needs and what are our wants. Believe it or not, we don’t need advertising to discriminate between the two.

Many consumers may not realize how inconvenient a freeze on access to their credit records can be until they try getting quick approval to finance a purchase, said Anthony Dimarco, vice president of the Florida Bankers Association.

“My biggest concern is if a consumer signs up for a freeze, then goes shopping at a department store and wants to get instant credit approval to buy something,” he said. “Suddenly, reality raises its head. You can’t unfreeze your credit instantaneously. The person may realize that’s not really what they want.”

That’s your biggest concern, Mr. Dimarco? First may I suggest some mouth wash because your breath stinks when you make such feeble attempts to tell us how we should be thinking about this. Secondly, your assertion reveals a fundamental misunderstanding about what at least some of your customers want. Those who are diligent about preserving the integrity of their credit history and who choose to make the effort to lock their credit report, are not the type to find themselves in the middle of a department store blindly signing up for instant credit. Rather, myself and others realize there is a far greater chance of some criminal attempting to get your instant credit in my good name. That’s what reality’s head looks like to us. And preventing that, Mr. Dimarco, IS what I really want.

[Edit History]

2006.08.02

Amy Alkon reminded me of another aspect to this issue. In addition to being particularly insensitive toward actually preventing fraud, “The Industry” would also rather you do the leg work for them in tracking down the deadbeats. Its implied in the description of what I’ve had to battle with in regards to my Evil Twin. A company is owed money by Evil Twin. Some butt hole flips open the phone book, looks up my name and says “Oh, look! Evil Twin is in the phone book!” and they initiate the machine to start hammering me for Evil Twin’s delinquency.

Sometimes I wish having a thought was attached to the pleasure/pain centers of the brain such that logical thoughts had a pleasant sensation whereas illogical thoughts had all the comfort of giving birth to a water buffalo through the nose. Note to “The Industry” bill collector butt holes: Deadbeats are not responsible enough to maintain their own phone number and such so just move along.

Alas, all I can to is rant, for sure as water buffalos are big, “The Industry” isn’t likely to care. In fact, they would care greatly if some legislation with muscle was in place that dinged them mightily for not fact checking. “The Industry” would undoubtedly vigorously fight such legislation. No, they would much rather I go to great lengths to prove the negative, that I am NOT Evil Twin. Having done that, they move on to the next poor soul listed in the phone book with the same name as the deadbeat. You would have an easier time convincing me that I am short than convincing me this is anything other than deliberate strategy.