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  • The Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Breach: Losing Client Data the Old Fashioned WayData Security, Blog, Privacy

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    A few days ago, a friend of mine received several letters dated June 24, 2011 from Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, where he has kept brokerage accounts for himself and his children for many years. It began with the now familiar, “we care about you” phrase: “At Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, client satisfaction and information security are critical priorities.” Then it segues into the sickeningly familiar, “but perhaps not enough” phrase: “We are writing to inform […]

  • The Weakest Link: Feds Fail with Cyber Security ProposalData Security, Blog

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    Last week I expressed my concern over efforts in Congress to delay, defang and ultimately defund the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. I called upon consumers to rebel against being treated as little more than pachyderm toe-jam and to send a clear message in 2012 to those in Congress who have been the spear carriers for business. My consternation over the GOP’s crusade to derail the first truly powerful and focused national consumer protection agency, however, […]

  • The Elephants in the Room: The GOP’s War on Consumer ProtectionGovernment, Consumer Protection, Blog

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    Saturday, June 25th, represents a seminal day for Bank of America credit card holders. It is Penalty Rate Increase Day. From that day forward, the penalty rate for card holders who pay their bill as little as one day late could rise to 29.99% on all future purchases. This is in addition to a late fee of up to $25 for the first time and $35 if there is a second slip within six months. […]

  • In Defense of Consumer ProtectionGovernment, Consumer Protection, Blog

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    The Minority Leader of the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wants to prevent President Obama from appointing Elizabeth Warren, Raj Date (or frankly anyone other than the ghost of Adam Smith or Old Man Potter from “It’s a Wonderful Life”) to be the Director of the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unless and until Democratic leaders agree to essentially defang the agency and permit Congressional oversight and authorization of its budget. He has convinced […]

  • Daddy, Make the Bad Man Go AwayGovernment, Consumer Protection, Blog, Personal Finance, Privacy

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    So, it’s 10:15 PM and your eight-year-old just woke up with a nightmare. While you’re tending to him, the phone rings and of course your 13-year-old daughter gets to it first. A minute or two later she bursts into her brother’s room crying, and blurts out to the two of you that the nasty man on the phone just told her that mommy and daddy would go to jail if they didn’t pay their old […]

  • Debt

    Play It Again, SAMGovernment, Mortgages, Blog

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    This country is in the midst of a housing crisis — a devastating housing crisis reminiscent of the 1930s — and no one, not the government, not private industry, seems to be able to fix it. Well, there is a strategy out there that has quietly been proposed that could stop the bleeding, and incredibly no one seems to be talking about it. First, let’s set the stage. Right now, there are reportedly 4.8 million […]

  • Herding Cats: Regulating Online TrackingData Security, Blog, Privacy, Technology

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    There was a time, when the World Wide Web was young, that many entrepreneurs counted on the idea they could make money the old-fashioned way–by charging cyber-customers on a per-use basis, the same way they charged traditional brick-and-mortar patrons. Most print magazines, for example, felt they could make a seamless transition from paid print subscriptions to paid Internet subscriptions. Newspapers believed that some of their traditional departments, such as classifieds, would become huge profit centers […]

  • The Michaels & Fox Data Breaches: Coincidence or Cohesion?Data Security, Blog, Privacy, Identity Theft, Technology

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    Well, two fascinating—and repellant—things happened in the last few days, which but for the broadest possible subject matter connection, would seem to be unrelated. On May 6, a group calling itself LulzSec hacked Fox Entertainment network computers and released personal information about people from the database of potential contestants for the popular Fox show “X Factor.” Five days later, the same group announced in quite caustic terms that it also had hacked Fox.com computers to […]

  • Phishing

    Bin Phishin’?Data Security, Blog, Identity Theft, Technology

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    Last week, the President and Commander in Chief announced something many Americans had been anticipating (though less and less, as time passed) for nearly a decade. Osama bin Laden, the person responsible for the single largest murder of Americans in history had been found and summarily executed in a stunningly efficient covert operation carried out by the Navy Seals. Not everyone reacted with the same celebratory response seen outside the White House and at Ground […]

  • When You’re the Apple of Their EyeData Security, Blog, Privacy, Technology

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    The World Wide Web seems to be making the world less wide. Everyone is connected to everyone and everything else, and that is changing the way many things are done, particularly advertising and marketing. The past decade or so has seen a radical evolution in the way marketers define and reach their target markets. Gone are the days when the Sunday insert sufficed for advertisers looking to pinpoint potential customers. These days, advertisers want to […]

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