Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What is wrong with people?

Some commenters here have suggested that it is the consumer's fault their data was stolen because, after all, they shouldn't be using checks in the first place. I find it difficult to think of a more ridiculous justification. It reminds me of what domestic abusers say - "If she didn't provoke me, I wouldn't have to hit her." Perhaps it's also my own fault if my vehicle is stolen, because, why have a car? Nonsense.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: that other people have committed fraud or had overdrawn accounts is not my problem. The ONLY factors that matter in a check transaction are the correct identity of the check writer, the legitimacy of the physical paper check, and the presence of sufficient funds in the account. This is plainly inarguable. All of these are easily verified by a number of means. And as long as the paper check is legal tender, people have the right to expect a legitimate check to be accepted by a business that still takes them.

Another commenter suggests that this isn't Certegy's fault, really, because they're going after the person who did it and come on, no employee screening is going to be foolproof. I understand that a large corporation can't control every movement of its employees. I get that, I really do. It's just not the point. What angers a lot of people is not that the data was stolen, but that the data was there to be stolen in the first place! Certegy does not need to be keeping decades-old records on millions of people. Even a bankruptcy comes off a credit report after seven years, but Certegy has records on people who haven't written a check in fifteen or more years. They even have credit card numbers, which makes little sense if their job is about checking accounts. What's more - and by their own admission - they frequently don't even use that information to verify checks. Instead they use silly "risk calculations."

Finally, on lawsuits: I say, go for it. Every single person who has had their information compromised deserves to be compensated. I believe that's the case any time there is data theft, but it's especially true in this case as many people never gave consent for Certegy to have any sort of "account" on them to begin with. In a way, there were two data thefts here.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Some commenters here have suggested that it is the consumer's fault their data was stolen because, after all, they shouldn't be using checks in the first place. I find it difficult to think of a more ridiculous justification. It reminds me of what domestic abusers say - "If she didn't provoke me, I wouldn't have to hit her." Perhaps it's also my own fault if my vehicle is stolen, because, why have a car? Nonsense." It's more like if you leave your car unlocked with the motor running in a bad neighborhood, it's more likely to be stolen. Or, if an abuser has been beating you over and over and over again and you choose not to lock this person up and stay with them, they are probably going to do it again.

Anonymous said...

"I've said it before and I'll say it again: that other people have committed fraud or had overdrawn accounts is not my problem. The ONLY factors that matter in a check transaction are the correct identity of the check writer, the legitimacy of the physical paper check, and the presence of sufficient funds in the account. This is plainly inarguable. All of these are easily verified by a number of means. And as long as the paper check is legal tender, people have the right to expect a legitimate check to be accepted by a business that still takes them."
If I have $1000 in my account and I write two checks for $1000 on Monday and they both get to the bank on Wednesday, what happens? Someone doesn't get paid, right? A retailer has given away %1000.00 worth of merchandise and has $0.00 to show for it. Why is that? Oh yeah, because a check is just paper. It has no real value. If I had paid in cash, there would be no problem. If I paid with a debit card, one retailer would have their money right away. The other retailer would see that there's no money left in the account and would keep their merchandise. If I had paid with a credit card, the merchants would have been paid and the credit card company would collect from me later.

So if there are sufficient funds in the account on Monday, it has no bearing on whether the check will clear on Wednesday. Also, the bank could say it's not you who wrote the check and just refuse to pay. All this costs the retailers money who then pass the fees on to everyone through higher prices. Inarguably, this is everyones problem.

Retailers have hired Certegy as insurance for all the bad check writers out there. If Certegy guarantees a check and the bank refuses to pay, the retailer is paid by Certegy. Certegy gets a small percentage of each check as a profit and they determine which checks they feel comfortable insuring. If Certegy did not provide this service, the retailers would not accept checks at all. Way too risky. Since a paper check is not legal tender but rather credit, it seems only right that Certegy should decide who they give credit to.

Anonymous said...

"What angers a lot of people is not that the data was stolen, but that the data was there to be stolen in the first place! Certegy does not need to be keeping decades-old records on millions of people. Even a bankruptcy comes off a credit report after seven years, but Certegy has records on people who haven't written a check in fifteen or more years. They even have credit card numbers, which makes little sense if their job is about checking accounts. What's more - and by their own admission - they frequently don't even use that information to verify checks. Instead they use silly "risk calculations.""
If they had no data, they would not extend credit to anyone and nobody would be able to write a check. They use all sorts of data to develop a check writing pattern. When checks are written, how much the are for, what stores are they written in, etc. If you go outside that pattern, the check is too risky to insure. You are free to use a legal form of tender though. They just won't accept your check. By the way, if you're driving hundreds of miles to shop at a store, bring cash, a credit card, an ATM card, a debit card, or something else because there's a good chance you will be turned down.

Anonymous said...

"Finally, on lawsuits: I say, go for it. Every single person who has had their information compromised deserves to be compensated. I believe that's the case any time there is data theft, but it's especially true in this case as many people never gave consent for Certegy to have any sort of "account" on them to begin with. In a way, there were two data thefts here."
By using checks, you are essentially filling out a credit application. The retailer is logging THEIR payments to determine future credit decisions. Nothing wrong with that. As for lawsuits, go for it. It's a big waste of money, but you are free to spend your money in your own way. You might want to take a credit card to the lawyers office because they probably won't accept checks. (Conflict of interest.) ;)

Former Amazon User said...

I didn't write a check. I tried to purchase something from Amazon using their "direct from a bank account" option. Unknown to me, that function is done by Certegy (a company I don't know and don't trust). Certegy didn't allow that transaction, and then had my information stolen. I talked to Amazon and they said they are not responsible for third parties... I think that is horrible customer service. Amazon sent my information to Certegy, so Amazon needs to help fix the problem.

Anonymous said...

Don't just write to Amazon customer service to complain, but also use publicity against them. File complaints with the BBB and with the FTC about Amazon giving your info to third parties and not living up to their published privacy guarantees. Oh, and the Washington State Attorney General's office.

Anonymous said...

I actually work for this so called certegy company and would like to inform all you folks on how legit the company really is, and how the people who write checks with the actaul intent of not paying for the merchandise is giving you people a false image of us. The reason we have your bank information is because we take over the check that is taking funds out of your bank account. would you like us to do it withuot that information? you would be surprised how many people will write a check to say tiffany and co. and when called upon to collect say i dont have the money can i make 50.00 payments on a 20000.00 balance. because of people like this you have to have a company insure these checks to retailers because if they gave a 20000 ring to a guy and didnt ever get paid there out 20000.00 . we arent bad people and were just like other collection agency's out there... and remember.... " THIS IS AN ATTEMPT TO COLLECT A DEBT, ANY INFORMATION OBTAINED WILL BE USED FOR THAT PURPOSE "

Carmel said...

Well said.

garble said...

I am an insurance agent. One of my clients gave me a blank check to pay his insurance every month. When I put the account info in (pulls directly from his account, no paper, no going to the bank), and hit send, it get's declined. I have asked him to call his bank...all good there. I had him call certegy, they won't tell him why, or clear the transaction. Someone please tell me how they are helping when his insurance cancels and he gets in an accident.

Anonymous said...

http://www.petitiononline.com/certegy/petition.html