Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Credit Card Security

When traveling full time, issues arise that you just don't have to think about when you live in a single location year round.  Today, I got an email from DiscoverCard.  The email tells me that they sent a new card to me and I have not activated the card.  And they will be de-activating my old card in a few days.
'Great, there is a credit card sitting in a mailbox that I can't get to until September, and they are going to deactivate the one and only credit card I use.'  I call Discover immediately.  I am greeted by the long and expected automated service and finally given the option to talk to a human being.  My first human looked up my account and saw that my account had been compromised.  She had to send me directly to the security department.
'Great, my account has been compromised, no one told me about this, AND they sent out a new card without telling me....  sounds like a great security procedure.'
Security guy in AZ who has an accent so thick I couldn't even tell what he said his name was tells me that it does show a compromise but he can't see exactly what it was.  He then tells me that the card they sent has the same number on the card as the card I have in my hand.
'Are you kidding me?  My account has been compromised and you send me a card with the same number to a mailbox I can't get to for 2 months?  ANYBODY can open that envelope and use that card right now.'
He also informs me that they sent the new card because it has "increased security features".  I asked what security features the new piece of plastic has that this one does not.  My photo? Fingerprint technology? He said...  and I quote, "I am not at liberty to say."  I almost laughed except I was too mad by this point so I moved on.
My voice is rising, but I need to make sure I have my facts clear.  I repeat the facts to him and ask him to verify these things: 1. There has been a compromise to my account. 2. No one at Discover told me there has been a compromise to my security. 3. A new card with the SAME number was sent to my address without notification or permission. 4. And this is secure to Discover?
Yes, yes, and yes, and yes, "that's how we do business".  'Great, cancel my account.'
Discover rep number 3.  I repeated the facts above.  She asked if I had reported the compromise (good question on her part)  I told her no, that the representatives had told me this and Discover had not informed me of this at all.  I explained that I am completely paperless and I travel constantly.  Discover's choice to mail out a new card with the same account number IS a security compromise for me, and this needs to be taken care of.
She and another security officer investigated this.  She comes back and explains that my old card seems to not be reading completely which sent an automatic mailing of new card - the card itself is physically compromised...  they make no distinction in their notes.  She immediately volunteered that indeed in my case this is not a very secure practice.  She cancelled the card entirely, created a new account and is sending the new card (without my old awesome design) next day shipping to the fair I am at currently.
I expressed how important it is for things like this to be examined and choose new more secure ways of doing these things.  She did seem to take this seriously...  it seemed absurd to her.  I do hope they do something about this.  I realize it only affects one in a million persons, but actually, mailboxes in general are not that secure.  Even a quick email or call to inform the person that their card is not reading well and they would like to send out a new card would allow people to watch more closely and protect ourselves better.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Silver Leaf wknd 1

Silver Leaf Renaissance Festival almost did not open their doors this year.  Tornado-like forces ripped through the festival site and took out large patches or trees.  Volunteers and staff worked insanely to clear roads and paths and create a safe and enjoyable space.  You can't really understand the severity of the damage unless you see it.  The damage is still entirely visible and heart wrenching, but the space that we call the fair, is lovely and alive.
This scene in the lane was not planned.  I found a nice shady spot to play my songs and before I knew it people found more benches and created one of the sweetest scenes I've ever seen.  Thank you, guys!