Tag Archives: privacy

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

Privacy? Seriously, Did You Really Think You Had Any?

lifehacker.com

I had one of my lovely epiphanies today? Is news more shocking because it is sudden? Or is it shocking because it is presented in a shocking manner, as in an hysterical tone of voice? The big squawk on Fox news this morning was the new Google interface. It harvests and combines your internet history from Google, Gmail, and other services. Hello…Gmail is Google mail? Why is this news to anyone? The merger happened years ago, and of course they share info. The contents of you email is scanned for keywords to direct advertising to you.

Fox reporters would have us all up in arms about this new Google interface. It invades our privacy, etc. This hoop de la is much like trying to slam the barn door after the horses already got out. Google claims this collecting your internet browsing history will improve the user experience. Oh right, lining a jail cell with mink will improve the user experience, but it’s still jail.

Data mining is not a new thing. The internet made it a lot easier, true. Anyone who ever got on a catalog mailing list can attest to this. I signed up for the Victorian Trading Post catalog 10 years ago. Now I get so many catalogs in the mail that we could build a pueblo out in the back yard using recycled catalogs. Most of them go straight in the trash.

living under a rock

Using Gmail is pretty much like spreading out your laundry on the front hedges to dry while living on a busy street. Trust me, everyone will see it sooner or later. Unless you have been living under a rock there is no way anyone can possibly not know this. I must be patient though. I’ve lived under other varieties of misinformation rocks many times in my life.

Even this beloved WordPress snips a little out bit of data out of our posts to use in the link at the bottom of the post that says “similar articles” or something like that. These links show occasionally on my blog and are loosely based on what I write. Although the logic of the algorithm eludes me. The problem with this process is that sometimes things are waaaaay out of context.

For and extreme example let’s say I mention something like “naked greed” in a post. The similar links may link to something about nudist camps or naked men. Now a naked man in my house, AKA, my husband is not disturbing. A naked man in the grocery store leering at me is extremely disturbing. The point is that he has nothing to do with what I am writing about. But the links show up on my blog and many can or will assume that it is my doing. Oh well, I love WordPress anyway.

So back to privacy and old news. Please pay attention and before you get all hysterical about something you hear on the news, take a deep breath and ask yourself 2 questions. 1) Is even true? 2) Is this way old news which means there is nothing left to shout about.

Friends and neighbors, as a public service announcement please read this article on LifeHacker.com Top 10 Simple Privacy Tricks Everyone Should Use. I re-read it from time to time because I get lax about it and also I tend to computer hop.

What is it Like to be a Woman?

What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice
And everything nice,
That’s what little girls are made of.

What is it like to be a woman? I wish I knew. Even grown women are rain drops on roses and whiskers on kittens. Am I still a girl? I do know I’m sick to death of being “cute.” It’s a good thing too, I’m past my prime in the cute department. Whenever I am writhing my way through some kind of metamorphosis Mr. Husband claims the short end of the stick. He hasn’t learned after 8 years to leave me alone when I need it. Even when I spell it out in excruciating clarity and say “leave me the hell alone.” He also tends to follow me around breathing down my neck when I’m not in a talkative mood.

“Are you OK? You sure are being quiet.” He’ll ask when I’m reading a book. Wander what would happen if I let out intermittent screams and cackles while reading. Would this satisfy the noise criteria? Then the drive by questions start,  “whatcha doing?” Well dear, I’m walking from point A to point B, and there is every likelihood that at some point I may walk back from point B to point A, but don’t hold your breath.” I try to see it from his point of view, but usually fail. I grew up in a large noisy house full of people. If everyone asked someone else what they were doing on a walk by, that’s all we’d ever talk about. And probably end up in frustration induced smack downs that rival reality TV.

Now I’m starting to chafe under this weird obligation or burden to be “cheerful” and “cute” all the time. Smile, make small talk, chatter about the weather, blah, blah, rutabaga, rutabaga. Men aren’t expected to do this. Woman are advised to give their guy some space. Let him go off to his man cave, think his deep manly thoughts in solitude and privacy. Uninterrupted by silly questions. “What are doing” Why aren’t you smiling? Is there something wrong? Are you mad at me? Are you taking your pills? Are you plotting my demise? Where is the cat?”

In my family of origin we coped with the need for head space in more of an oriental kind of way. Never gave it much thought until now. It was an unspoken rule that when someone curled up in a corner with their nose in a book or leaned on the windowsill looking at the clouds, this person was in a private place and wanted solitude. I would never dream of walking up to anyone engrossed in a book and ask “what are you doing?” It is a question that begs a sarcastic answer at the very least. “If you must know, I’m judging the heft of this novel against the chances of its cracking your skull?” Be careful when asking silly questions, you might not like the answer.

Is it the interruption factor? Women through ages tell their children, “don’t bother Daddy dear, he’s relaxing after a hard day at the office, the salt mine, the Roman forum.” Mother may still have scramble eggs lodged in her eyebrows from the breakfast battle with junior, but that’s not important in the grand scale of things. Women are raised to believe that everything they do is subject to interruption, idle curiosity or  interference by the needs or whims of others. “I’ll just get back to my petty little essay on the meaning of life, the universe and everything it contains, after I scratch your left shoulder-blade.” And we do it with a smile on our face. Or do we? Is it really a baring of teeth? “Yes dear, right away dear, your command is my wish dear.” Truth unspoken – At this moment dear, I wish you would fall of the edge of the earth, today if possible.

Now to Mr. Husband’s credit, this seems to be a recurring theme in my relationships with men. For all the reasons I’ve listed above. Can men help if it they are raised up to believe that women are on this earth for the sole purpose of amusing them? Is it encoded in the DNA or a learned behavior? Who knows. I know I’m not a typical woman. I don’t need nonstop, 24/7, constant interaction, petting and assurances of love. I either feel it or I don’t on a given day. What I need and want is the privacy to think my own thoughts. Uninterrupted, interrogated. If my door is shut, leave-me-the-hell-alone! I don’t even care if the house is on fire.

I Have My Room Back – Thank You God

“The history of men’s opposition to women’s emancipation is more interesting perhaps than the story of that emancipation itself.” — Virginia Woolf (A Room of One’s Own)

Grandson finally finished painting my office and repairing the furniture broken in the process. I am in heaven. I didn’t realize just how much I rely on my private space to maintain sanity. The walls are a pale pink almost white. I got rid of all the boxes and junk that were piled up in there and ahhh. What serenity. When Mr. Husband and now Mr. Grandson start piling questions on me or teasing me, I go in there and shut the door in their face. Such satisfaction is wonderful.

I decided to get rid of the area rug in there so it is a hardwood floor and minimal furniture. Uncluttered, restful. PINK. Yes, I already said that, but my room is a bastion of femininity in a this man cave also known as my home. Heavy dark wood bookshelves, dark leather, all the stuff that guys like. Difficult to move, hard to clean, shows dust 5 minutes after dusting. What do they care they aren’t the ones cleaning it anyway.

I make Mr. Husband nervous every once in a while when he asks “OK what exactly would you do if you could change things around?” My answer is “well I’d start with gasoline and a match and go from there.” He always squirms when I say that. I can see the wheels turning in his head “oh crap, maybe she’s serious this time.”

So I have my room back, my privacy back. I can think, create and dream undisturbed. At least for a while anyway. I’m contemplating rigging up the doorknob to deliver an electric shock to anyone touches it when I am in seclusion.

Privacy – Where Do You End and I begin?

Privacy, or the lack there of , is big issue with almost every married woman, mother, sister, daughter, and friend I’ve ever talked to. It also seems to be a rather vaguely defined issue.  I will tell anyone who cares to listen where the line is for me. Where do you end and I begin? The bathroom door. When I am in the powder room to shower or what-ev-er. The closed door is intended to be a metaphysical “do not disturb” sign. And no, I do not care to carry on a conversation from behind that door either.

cool shower

My two children, a boy and girl, are grown and have long since flown. When they were little, one of the things that would drive me insane is the sudden urgency that developed when they heard the bathroom door quietly click shut. Yea, I would try to sneak in there, you got a problem with that? The little darlings would immediately manufacture a crisis, or develop a burning need to know why leaves are green or where babies come from.

It never occurred to me, when entering into a new life with Mr. Husband a few years back, that I would have to go through the whole process all over again. Evidently he did not master the “leave the woman the hell alone, when the door is closed” concept before I came along in his tender middle age.

This lack of understanding is only compounded by Murphy’s law # 872 – the phone rings at the exact nano second you get in the shower. At our house the following chain of events transpires. I let out a deep contented sigh and step into a nice soothing hot shower. Then I hear a faint knock on the door followed by a cold blast of air.

As the steam clears, I see the husband standing there, phone in hand. He announces, with a look of grave concern and urgency, “the phone if for you.” I state that I don’t care and demand to know why he is standing there without my previous consent or invitation. He dodges the question by countering with “but, it’s your mother” (sister, brother, mailman, the donate a kidney fund.) I usually end up stating through gritted teeth “I don’t care, I’m IN THE EFFIN SHOWER, get out…please”. To which he responds “well fine” and stalks off to mope about it.

Is it just me? Was I out to lunch the day the cosmos announced that’s it is now ok to knock on a door and then barge right in without waiting for a reply? Does this practice now fall in the category of the pseudo polite greeting “hi, how are you” when no one really wants to know?

Been trying to think of some kind of practical joke that would impress on Hub-man to not open closed bathroom doors without the prior consent of the person on the other side of the door. I thought about a bucket of water over the door, but that would probably backfire. He  wouldn’t bat an eye if he walked in on me hanging by my toes from the ceiling fan, so that’s just right out.

In the end the solution was so delicious, so delightfully low tech. Why didn’t I think of it years ago? Found an old rubber door stop in the junk drawer. Works like a charm.

Copyright © Serenity Game

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