Friday, September 16, 2011

Don't Lose Your Phone

I get lots of credit card offers in the mail and in my email. In my life, I'm probably indirectly responsible for the life of an entire tree just to print all the offers I've received (not to account for the energy expended delivering them, ink for printing, etc.).  Today I finally resolved to bring the offers to an end. There is a phone number listed at the bottom of most offers, 1-888-5OPTOUT, which you can call to remove yourself from the list of people agencies will contact with the great deals. According to the FTC, this number is provided by the National Credit Bureau (http://www.ftc.gov/privacy/protect.shtm).

I called the number and was very shocked at the information it exposed about me via the simple fact of the phone number from which I was calling. Essentially, by identifying my phone number the automated service provided me, with no security challenge at all, my home address and full name. Transcript below:

  • NCB: Are you calling from your home phone?
  • Me: Yes
  • NCB: Please verify your address. Is it 123 Street Name, Town, State?
  • Me: Yes
  • NCM: Is your last name "Plumber"?
  • Me: Yes
  • NCM: Is your first name "Joe"?
  • Me: Yes
  • NCM: Please enter your SSN
After this point, I actually had to provide the information to verify it was me. 

So, I suppose that knowing someone's phone number may be enough to find their information online already anyway (white pages?), but I was utterly shocked that a service sponsored by the federal government would so easily give your private information away. My conclusion, be extra careful not to lose your phone and don't give your phone number out too willingly.

1 comment:

  1. Still getting loads of offers in the mail...

    ReplyDelete