Remember the good old days? Back when the AT&T
An incident such as this one -- like the rash of information thefts from retailers such as BJ's
On the contrary, I'm thrilled at how far we have come in acknowledging the seriousness of this epidemic of violation of consumer privacy. I'll explain.
This whole mess began with an announcement by ChoicePoint, back in February 2005, that a gang of Nigerian con artists had tricked it into revealing personally identifiable information on considerably more than 100,000 people. Worse, that this had been going on for more than a year before ChoicePoint wised up. And worse still, that the company waited as long as three months after discovering the problem before notifying any of the people affected.
But as public outrage grew -- and with it, rumblings of legislation in Congress -- companies that store our data (often without our consent, or even our knowledge), climbed a steep learning curve in the twin arts of public relations damage control and customer service. Just five months after ChoicePoint initiated us all into this mess, Citigroup and UPS
Today, barely a year and a half since this epidemic began, I'm amazed at how far we've come. Eighteen months ago, it took a year's worth of thieving to clue in ChoicePoint to the existence of the then-novel problem. Yesterday, alert to the risk, AT&T discovered its own breach within hours. Eighteen months ago, ChoicePoint waited months to inform the victims of its security breach. Yesterday, AT&T was working the phones, shooting out e-mails, and stuffing snail-mail envelopes with warnings of the danger less than 48 hours after the crime took place. Eighteen months ago, ChoicePoint set the standard for protecting the victims of identity theft when it offered all affected persons a full year's free coverage by a credit monitoring service. When AT&T announced it would do likewise yesterday, the public's response was "Well, of course."
Today's world isn't as safe as yesteryear, Fools. But at least we've learned how to deal with it.
Ready to wallow in the sordid saga of data theft? Test the water first with these gems:
- Banker Dons a Black Hat
- No Rest for the Wicked
- What, Me Worry About ID Theft?
- Oops, They Did It Again
Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. Bank of America is an Income Investor pick, while AT&T was a former Stock Advisor pick. The Fool wastes no time sharing itsdisclosure policy.