"A World of Privacy or Piracy?"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Thursday, September 5, 2013

The more laws that are invoked, the greater the humor I find in them. Take privacy as an example. We all receive small pamphlets from most companies we do business with explaining in 10 pages or less of tiny print how they protect our privacy. The pamphlets tell us how they distribute our private information by providing a list of all those who receive it from them.

A list of actions you can take to stop card issuers from sharing your information is included in the pamphlet. One action is to cancel your account.

I spent an hour attempting to cancel my account with a major bank who had issued a Visa card in my name and a second card in my wife’s name. The cards were not requested; they arrived after the bank decided to cancel the first cards we had been using for some time.

Along with our new cards, we received a pamphlet, just short of equaling a small book. It explained how they had checked into our privacy without notifying us until after they had collected our private information. We no longer wished to have a card with the company for the following reason. We had agreed to auto pay initially on the account. After they canceled our original card and re-issued the new one, we confirmed the auto pay was not in place before sending our check for payment. When our statement arrived from our bank we make auto pays from, an auto pay withdrawal had been sent to the card company.

They received duplicate payment and we had to wait another month to receive credit for their “mistake?”

During the hour I spent on the phone, much of it attempting to reach a person who would talk to me, I was asked for my “private” information numerous times. I did not wish to share with a machine, or someone no smarter than the machine, my information.

I am not making this up; I spoke to a tech, a tech supervisor, a financial adviser and a supervisor in that department. I had to provide my “private” information to each of them in order to move on. A confirmation number was finally obtained to cancel my account but all of them still have my “private” information.

How about dealing with a hospital. Even if it’s an emergency, you must provide the following. Your home phone, your work phone, your cell phone, your Social Security number, you drivers license number, your date of birth and a lot more. If the emergency is serious enough, they may even receive your date of death.

After collecting pages of private information, you are asked to sign acknowledgement of a “privacy” announcement.

It states you have read the entire statement and agree to its descriptions of how they will protect your information. You are finally given a plastic band that displays much of your information for all to see — including the cleaning personnel.

All of the “private” information obtained is quickly transferred to a computer file that can be accessed by most people in the entire medical services field. Who would doubt that the information we all turn over cannot be hacked?

As I see it, “privacy” is a thing of the past, given up to the smart phones that see, record and transfer everything. It’s almost as elusive as trying to get a human person on a phone.

My experience on the phone this morning at 8 o’clock is a good example. When I picked it up I heard, “May I speak to Fred?” I replied, “I am Fred.” The line was silent for seconds. Then the caller told me they were calling on behalf of the cancer society and would I like to contribute. I replied no and attempted to explain why. After another few silent seconds, (I was now aware the call was from a machine) I was told an envelope would be sent to me. I could place at least $20 in the pre-addressed envelope and return it. How did they get my phone number and address with all that “privacy” out there?

I am not one to deny those in need, but this sure sounded like a scam. How about that — an automated scam!




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