Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » December 2005 » Thought for the Day:

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12/27/2005: Thought for the Day:

[Reproduced in its totality because it's a damn important message. I know that none of our readers would be this stupid, but are you sure that your kids are following your good example?]

The story Iím about to tell you is absolutely real - and should not be repeated by anyone under ANY circumstances. I still canít believe it happened this afternoon, and I hope I never hear it happen again. Identity Theft is real, and what youíre about to read will astound you.

We hit the mall this afternoon, hoping to upgrade a few gifts and catch some day-after-Christmas sales. One store was offering 50% off, and (as you can imagine) the line was quite long. I stood in line, playing games on my new cell phone, waiting for Ponzi to collect a few goodies and to checkout. Now, Iím typically oblivious to conversations that happen around me, but I couldnít help but to catch one that was taking place between the girl behind me and someone on the other end of her phone line. This is where the nightmarish tale of information privacy truly begins.

The woman states that she needs her sibling to transfer funds ($300) between one bank account and another, but not to warn "Dad" because he might get upset if he knows why this small sum was being transfered. No big deal - I'm sure this happens all the time. I continue playing my puzzle game, happy that she's not my daughter and "managing" my finances behind my back. And then it happens (and mind you, I'm paraphrasing - but all of the following personal information was shared quite audibly for anybody to hear):

"My bank account number is [BLEEP]."
I was floored. She recited her entire bank account number to the other person, as if it was nothing more than a phone number. It gets worse.

"Then you'll need my Social Securty number, which is [BLEEP]."
My jaw dropped. I stopped playing my game, and actually felt myself compelled to turn around and inform her of the grave mistake she was making. But it gets worse.

"Then you'll need my password, which is [BLEEP]."
She did. She recited not only her bank account number, not only her Social Securty number, but the password to access this account. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. THIS REALLY HAPPENED THIS AFTERNOON! Had I, or anybody else around me, been nefarious, this would have been a dream come true. I should have stopped her when she first announced her bank account to anyone within earshot, but the girl's cavalier attitude implied immaturity (and would likely have prompted more than a nasty glance in my direction). Oh my goodness, folks - this was stupidity cubed.

You teach your kids not to accept candy from strangers. You teach friends never to click on links that come from unwarranted "PayPal" emails. You scan your computers for spyware religiously. For goodness sake, shout this story from top of the mountain so that all can hear. You NEVER share your Social Security number, you NEVER share your passwords, and you NEVER share your bank account information. And if you really need to share this data, you DON'T DO IT IN PUBLIC! Identity theft is real, and any one of these pieces of data could lead any thief to an endless goldmine. Anybody can be a victim - your finances could be comprimised in a snap. Fraud is everywhere, and it's not just online. Teach your kids to be responsible with information, please!

And she thought her father would freak over transfering $300 between bank accounts?!
--Chris Pirillo

Len on 12.27.05 @ 08:33 AM CST

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December 2005

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