Monday, November 2, 2015

Your personal information is your responsibility...Right?

It's not a question of "if" but "when" the next data security breach happens.  Will it be your bank, your favorite store or an online purchase?

Here's the problem.  We tend to take the security of our personal information way too lightly.  At least that's what we're told when Target or Home Depot get hacked.  We're supposed to be diligent and wary of strangers.  Hide those pin numbers, don't use "monkey123" for your password and don't trust anybody.

That last one has some weight to it. 

But not for the reason you think.  The people you shouldn't be trusting are exactly the people responsible for breaking your trust.

It's the bank with the vulnerable database easily accessible from the Internet, the gas station that doesn't notice the card skimmers on their pumps, the home improvement store that doesn't bother to check the security of their Point of Sales systems.

It always seems there's some degree of "blame the victim."  Always that undertone that the "stupid consumer" is at least partially at fault.  So when bad things happen it's on you to fix their mess. 

Oh sure, they'll offer up "free credit monitoring" but that's about the extent of their "customer care."

Free credit monitoring is like being invited to a funeral.   

Something's dead, you can't do anything but watch and there's lots of crying.

The world we live in demands submission.  Want a job?  Be prepared to offer up more information than your mother knows about you.  Going to school? same story.

It's all in the name of "security."  We don't want to be working next to the next Osama Bin Laden now do we?

Fine, I feel very cozy in my little cubicle knowing that the guy next to me is unlikely to start living out his Soldier of Fortune fantasies in the break room anytime soon.

Except that it's all BS.  I repeat, it's all a huge, steaming pile of BS...

Personal information is a sacred trust. One that needs to be respected and not thrown around like a Facebook profile.  Yet your Facebook page is probably more secure than your credit report.  

Case in point and a personal pet peeve, Credit Reports used for anything but credit.

A credit report is reflective of your past ability to pay bills, that's it.  It is not reflective of your character, ethics or suitability for employment. 

But it seems you can't do anything without giving up the most personal of information to those who aren't the best custodians of it.

I'll cut to the chase, if I'm required to lay myself bare to get a job or buy a power drill then those entrusted with the information need to be responsible for it.  Offering up a year of credit monitoring is useless.  If my life is ruined because somebody didn't take that responsibility seriously then they need to do more than offer me a subscription to watch my own destruction. 

If my identity is stolen, my accounts spread all over the dark net and my job prospects ruined for a decade because somebody got lazy at your company then guess what...

I'm your ward.  You're now responsible for my well being.  You're going to make sure all my needs are taken care of.  I'll never have to worry about qualifying for a mortgage or paying the light bill because you're going to take care of it all.

All of it, no exceptions.  If I get married, you're going to pay for it.  If I want to take a Hawaiian vacation you'd better FedEx me the plane tickets.

That's the price of being careless.  If it's so critical to know everything about me just to sell me something, enroll in a college class or apply for a job then you should have as much risk as I do.

That's not ridiculous that's parity.  What's so ridiculous about demanding the same level of responsibility as is imposed on those providing the information?

"That's just the way the world is" is NOT a valid answer.  You can't be held to a standard that the standard bearers themselves don't adhere to.

One of two things needs to happen.  Either those that demand our personal information need to have as much at risk caring for it as we do or we just need to stop being required to provide it so freely. 

I'll say it again...I've NEVER seen ANYTHING on a credit report that had any bearing on somebody's ABILITY to do a job or reflected on their CHARACTER in any way. 

Yet it's a favorite rationalization for submitting to a financial colonscopy for everything and anything.  So long as it is, we need to demand equivalence or just refuse to participate. 

"Sorry" is not enough.