12 August 2006

Today's rant

The news that the VA lost another computer (see yesterday's post) is depressing. If my memory serves me right, my personal information has been compromised at least three times (that I know of):

a) a student loan company whose computer was stolen or broken into;

b) the first VA stolen laptop computer which had information on every TRICARE (military healthcare provider) recipient;

c) the Naval Safety Center, who posted personal information on a publicly-accessible website.

All of this reminds me once again of the biggest problem I have with the identity theft issue. About as quickly as the issue of identity theft has risen (at least appeared to do so according to the press), so have the offers of "identity theft protection" from banks, credit card companies, and other organizations that seem to lose people's information on a regular basis.

I have received these offers in the mail. "For only $12.95 more a year we will give you identity theft protection!" If you're lucky, and your personal information has already been compromised, they might even give you a year's subscription for free! As if it's a magazine. Wow, I feel special! Of course, after that year, they will renew you automatically and charge your account without your permission.

My thought process from the beginning has always been: Isn't it the responsibility of the bank, credit card company, or other information holder, to protect my personal information in the first place?

To pay for identity theft protection is akin to the bank saying: "Under normal circumstances, we can't protect you, but if you pay us, we'll try harder to protect you." I give it a year or so until a bank, credit card company or someone else who offers "identity theft protection" has their database of "protected" clients stolen, pilfered, or broken into.

This morning I took this thought process to its logical conclusion. This is absolute extortion.
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