Green Bay Press-Gazette on protect yourself against data breaches (Jan. 14):
The phrase “buyer beware” takes a whole new meaning given the recent data breaches at large retailers
The phrase is applicable to those who use credit card for their purchases as hackers apparently are moving from attacking the financial services industry to retailers.
“There will be a wave of attacks on the retail industry throughout the year. The Target hack exposed how vulnerable the industry is,” David Kennedy, founder of TrustedSec, told USA TODAY.
Target reported in December that 40 million credit and debit card accounts may have been affected by a breach between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15; that number was later revised to 110 million. The information stolen included card numbers, expiration dates, debit-card PINs, the embedded code on the magnetic strip, names, phone numbers, and email and mailing addresses.
All that information about you that retailers collect so that they can target their marketing is useful to identity thieves looking to steal from you.
That’s bad news for everyone. Sure, you’re usually protected if you used a credit card, but don’t think you won’t be paying the price through higher, or more, fees and interest rates at financial institutions or higher prices at retailers.
Then there’s the time involved in monitoring your accounts, arranging for new credit cards, and just dealing with the issue.
Plus, it may not go away. One security expert told the Associated Press that the information stolen might be used for phishing and getting you to click on a link that installs malware and fraudulently harvests more personal information. The longer this goes on, the harder it will be to trace it back to the original breach, said Ken Stasiak, founder and CEO of SecureState.
If the past helps is any indication, these type of breaches happen quite regularly. It seems there is always someone attempting to separate you from your money using criminal means. The Identity Theft Resource Center reported 619 data breaches in 2013, affecting 57.9 million records.
What can be done?
Consumers should check credit card statements, sign up for fraud protection, ignore links on emails, even if they look authentic, order a credit report every four months. Watch for small transactions, which thieves started with to determine whether an account is active and whether they can get away with their theft.
Retailers can help suspected victims. For example, Target and Experian are offering a year of free credit monitoring (https://creditmonitoring.target.com) for victims of the data breach...
The best advice we can give is: Buyer beware. Monitor your accounts for fraudulent purchases; set up credit monitoring so you’ll know if someone uses the stolen information to open a loan in your name; change your passwords regularly; and be very wary of emails from sources you don’t know.
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The Paris (Tenn.) Post-Intelligencer on gun control struggle a constitutional one (Jan. 13):
Didn’t we fight the Civil War over whether federal law prevails over states’ rights?
Now, conservative lawmakers in several states are attempting to organize defiance of certain federal laws, beginning with gun control. Their idea is that if enough states band together, they can overwhelm Uncle Sam’s enforcement power.
A measure introduced last week in the Missouri Legislature seeks to prevent some federal gun control regulations from being enforced. State law enforcement officers who attempt to enforce the federal rules would be subject to civil and criminal penalties.
That body came within one vote of passing a similar measure last year.
This year’s proposal, The Associated Press reported, delays the effective date of the rebellious rules to give other states time to join the cause.
Sounding for all the world like a Confederate organizer, one Missouri senator said, “We continue to see the federal government overreach their rightful bounds, and if we can create a situation where we have some unity among states, then I think it puts us in a better position to make that argument.”
Courts have consistently ruled that states do not have the power to nullify federal laws, but that doesn’t keep the restless from trying.
Last year, for example, a federal appeals court struck down a 2009 Montana law that would bar federal regulation of guns that are made in that state and which remain within its borders.
Open defiance is not the right path. The proper arena for this struggle is neither Fort Sumter nor the Supreme Court, but Congress. Obviously, many Americans sympathize with the objection to gun control laws, so let their elected representatives sort this out, using the procedure spelled out in the U.S. Constitution.