Tag Archives: Credit card

No You Can’t Have My SS Number!

I So Pretty – Gimme You Numbah

I had an interesting  (in this case interesting = unpleasant) episode with Mr. Husband about my Social Security number recently.  It got me to thinking about privacy, identity theft and social engineering.  How we are programmed to “be nice” and “cooperate.” Thieves, scammers and even legitimate businesses take advantage of that. How many times have you been asked for information that you were not comfortable parting with, but gave it anyway because you didn’t want to make a scene, be embarrassed, or take your business elsewhere?

It all started with preparation for a heart stress test. The hub-man is preparing to take his first one. I offered to stress him out to make the test more realistic, but he declined. Any who, he was filling out 9 thousand pages of pre-test paperwork and at one point there is a space for the spouse’s social security number so he asked  for my number.

Being a rabid privacy advocate I asked him “what do you want it for?” Well for the form of course. “But YOU are taking the test and I am not even a client of this particular Doctor’s office. Why do they need MY social security number? They don’t need yours either, for that matter” “Well it’s on the form …”   “So? They don’t need my number, they don’t have the legal right to ask me, and I’m not giving it!” He got ticked off, rolled his eyes, stomped into his office and shut the door.

As a result, I got in my own personal snit. My reasoning is my spouse is supposed to be my mate and protector, right? We got each other’s back and so on. How dare he get angry with me for protecting myself when he won’t? Oh well. I am dealing with a man who will listen to a telemarketer for 15 minutes before saying “ no thank you.” I on the other hand will slam down the phone at the first hint of a junk call without saying a word. Why waste my time or theirs?

So I decided to do a little research into who really can ask for my number.  There are not that many situations where giving your number is required.

Mandatory

  • Credit applications
  • Cash transactions over $10,000
  • When applying for certain (not all)  federal benefits
  • Military paperwork
  • The Department of Motor Vehicles (federal law prohibits the use your SS#  as your driver’s license number)

Optional (as in you are NOT legally required to give them your SS#)

  • Doctor and dentist intake forms
  • Supermarkets
  • Drugstores
  • Preschools
  • Airlines
  • Some stranger on the phone
  • YOUR RELATIVES. Yea, you heard me. Relatives perpetrate almost 50% of identity thefts. Nope it’s not the Russian Mafia Hacker or that prince in Nairobi whose father needs an operation, so please send him 5 million dollars.  Sadly, the case of people with ruined credit using the Social Security numbers of their children or elderly parents is on the rise.

According to the McAfee Security firm. The 10 most dangerous places to use your SS# are:

  1. Universities/Colleges
  2. Banking/Financial Institutions
  3. Hospitals
  4. State Governments
  5. Local Governments
  6. Federal Government (Yikes)
  7. Medical Businesses
  8. Non-Profit Organizations
  9. Technology Companies
  10. Medical Insurance and Medical Offices/Clinics

Pretty shocking list when you consider that several of the organizations are on the list of those that you have to give your number to. They forgot to add your house if drunk cousin Billy has access to your wallet at the family barb-b-que.

So maybe my husband thinks I’m a cranky ole geezer woman. So what? I’m protecting my bleeping identity even on days when I’m not quite sure who I am. In other words “I ain’t telling nobody nuthin about my SS number!” Now I’m gonna go sit on the back porch in my rocking chair, smoke on my corncob pipe and cast ornery looks at passers-by.

Useful Privacy and For Your Information Links:

Privacy Rights Org

CreditCards.com

IDTheftQuiz.org

Neither a Borrower Nor a Lender Be

castaway

Gilligan presents Shakespeare’s Hamlet

So the great collective “we”, the ole U.S. of A. got downgraded by Standard & Poors to a AA+ from a triple A+. Big surprise? Nah not really. We all know why, don’t we. It was them, the other guy, those people over there on the other side of the street, the city, country. Not any one of us individually, oh nooo.

The news is freaking and shrieking about it, of course. In my opinion, this whole pickle we’re in has been decades in the making. I’ve only been on this planet for 56 years and I see drastic changes. It used to be embarrassing to be in debt, now it’s a status symbol.

There is “good debt” and “bad debt”. People brag about getting a 400 thousand dollar mortgage for a house. Then run out and buy furniture on credit to put in their showplace. Until recently it was shamefully easy to get a credit card. All you had to do was stagger to the mailbox and there they were. Pre-approved, charge till you drop. Run out of room on your credit card? Here transfer the balance to a new card and keep on truckin.

Decades ago, a young couple starting out in life got a little love shack. All they needed was each other, and a few orange crates to put their books in. They built a life together. Couples today are “entitled” to pre-engagement showers, shopping sprees, bridal showers,  and even take up a collection to fund the honey-moon. It’s not uncommon for the new couple to provide you with a list to inform you not only what to provide them but where to buy it.  Then the babies come, and another list is issued. Babies start out life today with more possessions than I had when I left home for the first time.

Of course an absolute necessity for everyone starting out is a TV. The bigger the better. Our TV is so big that I could sit 2 houses over and see it just fine. It’s paid for now, but it wasn’t when we first got it. A typical new TV should be  enthroned front and center in a mortgaged living room on a fine entertainment shelf purchased on credit. Out of this babble box comes our daily indoctrination. The never-ending advertisements, infomercials, fabricated needs dressed up in a sexy wrapper and touted as must have for any self-respecting consumer.

Why buy 1 item when you can buy 2 at twice the price, plus shipping? Buy this drug. If you don’t know what it’s for, so what? Ask you doctor. Already have this DVD or Blue Ray? Not a problem, now there is the new expanded, collectors edition with 11 seconds of extra footage. You must have it. Hang your head in shame if you don’t. Get a loan. Running out of space for all the stuff you purchased? Buy more furniture to store it in. If that doesn’t work, buy a new house!

Don’t like the way your nose looks? Get a “self improvement” medical loan and have surgery to fix it. Or even better go on a medical holiday to Costa Rica or other destinations and turn it into a spa week. Did your belly get to big to fit in the jeans you have. Pay a hundred dollars for a new pair that have magic panels in them to squish your tummy in. Loose weight? Nah, that is for peasants. I can afford all the food I want. If you don’t believe me check out my bursting seams!

I probably sound a little or a lot cynical. I feel like that drunk abducted by aliens who was saying “I been telling ya for 10 damn years they are coming back.”  Do you believe in Global Warming? Well forget about it. I think we’re going to run out of room to store all our stuff long before we find out whether or not Global warming is real or not.

What if all the creditors in all the world decided to repossess all the stuff purchased on credit. We would need to lease out Siberia to store it all. Can you imagine a foreclosure/garage sale on a planetary scale. That’s when we would find out if we are really alone in the universe because the extraterrestrials would come to the sale. Who can’t pass up a bargain or an opportunity to buy more stuff?

Am I Afraid of the Mean Green?

Doing a lot of thinking lately about the nature of reality and creating your own reality, etc. It got me thinking about the concept of cash money, cash in hand to spend on whatever adventure comes to mind. What does it look like. If I try to visualize all I can picture is $10,000. Why is this I wondered. Ah ha! I know why.

Way back when in the land before Credit Cards (in my universe) I used to travel with cash and travelers checks. $10,000 was the amount I usually considered a starting place for a journey. Why that amount? Because it used to say on forms to enter a country, usually the U.S. that you have to declare anything over that number. Whose business is it how much mad money I’m carrying anyway?

Why was I so terrified of having cash on me? Part of it was a fear that my cash could be labeled “possible ill gotten gains” and confiscated. Am I a tax evader or a drug dealer? Nope. But I just don’t fit into the usual boxes and that scares me. Maybe it’s not so bad now that I’m older, but a young women traveling alone with cash is automatically suspect of being a drug mule. I know this from personal experience. I have had my luggage spread out all over customs tables more times than I care to say because of this unfounded suspicion.

Could I simply be a woman of my own means who chooses to travel? Nooo, not in the reality of the soldiers in the war on drugs and money. I must be some stupid filly hauling someone else’s illegal articles or substances around the planet. Else wise, why I am traveling unsupervised? Yes, I have actually been asked this exact question. And the ever popular, “what does your husband have to say about you traveling alone?” Asked before even finding out if I was married.

Courtesy: Vasiliy-Kova/PhotoXpress

But do I actually have a fear of money in general. Now that’s a disturbing thought. I found an article on CNN entitled Are Girls Afraid of Money?  Disturbing reading to a woman who links of herself as all enlightened and liberated. Maybe not as much as I think I am.

Back to the visualizing cash. I have to wonder if using credit cards and other alternate less tangible forms of payment sometimes prevents us from visualizing abundance. Money out there in the electronic ether doesn’t seem real to most people I talk to. It’s all numbers and it seems natural to them. Their pay is directly deposited into a bank, payments made on-line or directly by their employer. Then these numbers get all jumbled around. “I have a 3 bazillion dollar mortgage, 80 zillion in credit card debt, and I need a bigger house to put all my junk in.” Are they surrounded themselves with possessions as a material example of having “things”? Sort like birds feathering their nest.

My mother in law constantly frets about money. She has enough for the next 5 lifetimes. However, she never actually saw or handled it. Even in electronic form. Her dear departed husband had a tight grip on the purse strings. He doled her out an allowance for household expenses via a check written to deposit in “her” account. But he sometimes went through her checkbook line by line questioning her purchases as if she were an irresponsible child. No wonder the fear of spending or not having enough money terrifies her. She has no tangible concept of it really belonging to her.

I’m tempted to tell Mr. Husband to work a deal with the bank to make a 3 hour withdrawal of some mind-boggling, eye-popping amount of cash. Then bring it to his mother’s house and plop it down on her coffee table and say “here ya go, Mother. Can you spend this is you lifetime? Don’t think so? OK, well now that you’ve seen it, I’ll put it back  in the bank cuz it is not gonna fit in your mattress.”  Hey, I want to see it too, so I can picture it in my brain.

Credit Cards – Proof That Satan Exists

woe is me

I have seen the face of the beast. His name is…well I won’t say his name, but it rhymes with BitiDank. I have had this one particular card for years now and it has been nothing but a huge pain in my nether-yaiya.

The damned thing has gone shopping without me on more than one occasion, while I was at work. It happened again only a month after I got a new card because the old one was hacked. I don’t even carry it and I don’t use it online either. I have other cards and they are just fine. The hacking has only happened with this one card company and on numerous occasions, but it’s not holes in their security, oh nooooo. It’s my fault. Yea right, and monkeys fly out of my butt on a daily basis too.

Now after a year of it rotting in my file cabinet. I get a snooty little phone call about an outstanding balance, again. The statements don’t come in the mail even though the nice little man in Bangladesh insists that they do. Why didn’t I close the account. Because I fell into the “it will effect your credit score” trap. What a racket. Sucker!

pic @ schizoamerica.com

The card companies tell you that if you don’t have high enough score than they will charge you more when you do want a card. Bull cookies! I told them to close the account. Silly me. Now I can’t pay the balance online, because they closed it while I was talking (well, yelling) at them before I paid the piddly little outstanding  balance.

This is the only time in 5 years that a charge is actually mine. (a forgotten game subscription) Now I’m supposed to send them a check in the mail with all kinds of information on it, probably including what kind of toothpaste I use and DNA sample from my first-born child. But not to worry, they will send confirmation of account closure in the mail. This document will end up in that same alternate universe where the statements go. The probable result of this is that the only person who CAN’T use the card is me. I just pay the bill when I know one is due via my crystal ball, Ouija board, or ecstatic vision.

The only reason I keep credit cards is because I like to travel. If I tried to do it all with cash I would look like I was pregnant from having it stashed all over my body. And my money would get all sweaty. Eeww. OK. I like to shop online too. I’m not going the PayPal route because that service gets and hacked and whacked more than weeds on the side of an interstate. I hate credit cards, but cash is bulky. Just one of those conundrums of life. I guess it better than hauling around boxes of clam shells or a herd of goats, but not by much.

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