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Friday links

  • Yet another example of “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.” (Tip o’ hat to G, who was absolutely fulminating over this.)
  • How do you have meaningful due process when everything is a crime? Glenn Reynolds answers in “Ham Sandwich Nation.” (Per J.)
  • Everybody knows about the infamous “no-fly” list. But did you have any idea there’s also a “no-credit” list you can end up on if you happen to share the name of a suspected drug dealer, money launderer, etc.? And of course … it’s secret and you can’t appeal. Ah, the wonderful Land of the Free!
  • You think what New York politicians just did to gun owners was bad? T’aint nothin’ compared with what they wanted to do — and keep secret. (Tip o’ hat to MJR.)
  • The great Glenn Greenwald on Wall Street and Obama. The minions of O will destroy Aaron Swartz and lock medical marijuana providers in prison. But steal billions, ruin the economy, and you get dinner at the White House. “The real mystery from all of this is that it has not led to greater social unrest.” Yet.
  • Finally, your heartwarming story of the day: Cat born without leg bones to get an operation thanks to the Internet. (H/T C-B)


  1. G.W.F.
    G.W.F. January 25, 2013 6:18 am

    The “no credit list” is kind of scary. I work for a bank and had never heard about customers getting flagged like that. I had to laugh at that “the exact algorithm that TransUnion uses to match people, such as Ramirez, to individuals on the list is unknown.” I think that would be because the whole process is a joke! I cannot say what the exact process is right now, but I was responsible for developing the “algorithm” for consumer lending after 9/11 (included all real estate secured loans processed through the largest consumer bank in the US at the time).

    The basic process was OFAC sent us a list of names (it was maybe 50 names the week after 9/11) that they would update when they felt like it. The names were broken into parts, so you had “OSAMA BIN LADEN” and if Osama Bin Laden walked into a local bank branch looking for a HELOC his application was flagged, but that was true for “OSAMA Smith”, “Joe BINder”, “Sue LADENberg”… that was the way it worked. Not much science behind it. It had nothing to do with SSN, it was all name matching. Each morning every new application (we did over 100,000 per day) was screened and if any part of the name matched, the details were emailed to a group within the bank to look into the application to see if they needed to refer the application to OFAC.

    It is sad to hear people are getting denied credit based on such a bogus science.

  2. Matt, another
    Matt, another January 25, 2013 6:47 am

    I wonder, how long befor the U.S. winds up on the No Credit list?

  3. Claire
    Claire January 25, 2013 7:40 am

    “It is sad to hear people are getting denied credit based on such a bogus science.”

    Indeed. And thanks for the insider insights. Sounds as if this is an extension of the same system you guys were using in your bank — but with the stupidity now more entrenched and institutionalized. Somehow, the combo of bad government policy/data and corporate mindlessness always manages to make matters worse.

    I’ve been looking at the credit system quite a lot lately — just from a casual interested-individual perspective — and the numerous ways in which the credit scoring and reporting systems are badly broken + impossible to fix because they are so opaque is really appalling. Get government involved and … urg.

  4. Anonymous
    Anonymous January 25, 2013 8:33 am

    “steal billions, ruin the economy, and you get dinner at the White House. “The real mystery from all of this is that it has not led to greater social unrest.” Yet.”

    Somebody should tell those Occupy hippies that unless they’re bringing guns, they ain’t changing anything.

  5. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty January 25, 2013 11:33 am

    I’d be interested in finding a way to get on a voluntary zero, NO credit list. My credit score is so high I’m often flooded with offers, phone calls, etc. I don’t use much “credit,” only to purchase things on line more conveniently. I’d be happy to dump it all, but can’t figure out how to get off the merry go round.

    I’m vulnerable to thieves and such simply because I do have good credit, regardless of how well I watch or attempt to safeguard my information. It’s far, FAR too easy to get “credit” in this silly system.

    Maybe I need to change my name to Mama binLiberty

  6. Claire
    Claire January 25, 2013 11:58 am

    LOL, Mama binLiberty — There are actually fairly easy ways to stop those offers and prevent companies from checking your credit to pre-qualify you. You don’t have to put up with all that!

  7. IndividualAudienceMember
    IndividualAudienceMember January 25, 2013 12:15 pm

    The webpage about the NY gun grab locked my browser right up.

    Irritating. Both, and the rest.

  8. kevin m
    kevin m January 25, 2013 1:18 pm

    If we were still a country of laws one would be able to sue for libel over this no credit list bull.

  9. G.W.F.
    G.W.F. January 25, 2013 1:38 pm


    You can (well depends on the state you live) freeze your profile. It will stop any offers and prevent any fraud/theft. In my state it cost me $7.50 but I did it a few years back. If you ever want to apply for credit anywhere you just have to unfreeze your profile. You can find out what the laws are in your state here:

  10. Claire
    Claire January 25, 2013 2:10 pm

    G.W.F. — Yep. And you can also opt out of receiving offers for pre-screened credit cards and insurance very easily and free: (note that some of the more snoopy info they ask for is optional). This is less drastic than a freeze, but should still keep cc and ins cos from doing unauthorized “soft pulls” on credit.

    Not to mention there are those “do not call” and “no junk mail” lists.

    I’m in the process of writing a blog entry for this stuff and will have more links in that.

  11. G.W.F.
    G.W.F. January 25, 2013 2:51 pm

    Thank you. That is a great link. I was not aware of that service. The other is slightly different though. The opt out means the credit companies can no longer sell your info. to banks/insurance companies/etc. Credit reporting companies will sell leads to Chase visa or whatever and the do a bulk mailing to folks like Mama Liberty. Opting out will stop that. Its like the do not call list.

    The difference is say a thief get’s Mama Liberty’s credit info. and tries to open a credit card in her name. The reporting agencies will still supply the requesting bank with the credit data if asked. Your number is unlisted, but if someone knows your number they can still call you. If you do a credit freeze, if a bank goes to the credit reporting agency, they basically have to say “sorry the profile is frozen. I can’t supply data until Mama Liberty unfreezes the account with the code provided to her at the time the account was frozen”. It is like turning the phone off. It does give an extra measure of protection.

  12. Claire
    Claire January 25, 2013 3:46 pm

    Good explanation, G.W.F. Handy to have a banker around. 🙂

    If somebody has reason be believe their identity is seriously at risk, a fraud alert or a credit freeze is definitely a good idea.

    If you’re just worried that the flow of pre-screened junk mail might help put you at risk (or if it’s just driving you bats on general principles), an opt-out is probably enough. Right?

  13. jed
    jed January 25, 2013 4:29 pm

    Yes, everything is a crime, even URL munging. I know nothing of this man’s history, but check out the the story of Andrew Auernheimer.

    I’ve had success in the past on reducing postal mail volume with the DMA opt-out process, and the credit agency route. I sorta want some of those card offers to come in again, because the example cards they send along with them make great wood glue spreaders, and shim stock, and I’m starting to run low.

  14. Pat
    Pat January 25, 2013 4:52 pm

    An opt-out on junk mail doesn’t always work. I did it twice in five years, and the companies switched to “Boxholder” [at my address], which the P.O. is obligated to deliver —— or so I was told by USPS. This includes catalogs as well as envelopes, and it’s why often you now see the Name AND “or Boxholder” on a piece of junk mail. That designation covers everybody’s a$$, and the recipient still has to contend with junk mail.

  15. Claire
    Claire January 25, 2013 5:18 pm

    You’re sadly right on ordinary junk mail, Pat. I’ve noticed that, too. But the opt-out does work on pre-approved credit and insurance offers — because the companies don’t want somebody with a 500 credit score wasting their time returning those! Those seemed to be the types of offers MamaLiberty is plagued with.

  16. Claire
    Claire January 25, 2013 5:28 pm

    jed — re Auernheimer: I saw another article about him that made him seem much more black hat, despite appearing to be sympathetic (calling him “another Aaron Swartz”). That article said he published the AT&T subscriber data — which would indeed be scummy even if AT&T left it potentially exposed.

    Beyond that, I know nothing. Will try to look into it more. That’s certainly a beautifully sad call to action he wrote there.

  17. Pat
    Pat January 25, 2013 5:29 pm

    “Those seemed to be the types of offers MamaLiberty is plagued with.”

    Me too! – as well as the ordinary kind. I’m glad to know that something can be done about them.

  18. Pat
    Pat January 25, 2013 5:34 pm

    P.S: There’s also been a horrible increase in health insurance solicitations since Obamacare was proposed.

  19. jed
    jed January 25, 2013 10:03 pm

    re. Auernheimer: the Techcrunch article says he went to a Gawker Media employee with a sample of the output. This would be to demonstrate proof of the vulnerability. I also read the linked Gawker article, which, despite using words such as “breach”, “exploit”, and “compromised”, doesn’t say that the data was ever provided by Auernheimer et. al. to other parties. If it does, I’m missing it. Checking the Wikipedia article, and following a cite [14] from there to ArsTechnica, I still don’t find anything saying the list was ever published — in fact Auernheimer backed away from doing so. Now, whether other actions, such as crafting http requests to retrieve data which a web server happily gives up without authentication, constitutes fraud, identity theft, and/or other federal crimes? Obviously, the FBI thinks so. But URL munging has been going on for as long as the web has been around.

    There’s a lot of argument in the hacker (not cracker) communities about how to go about reporting found vulnerabilities, with the more militant types pointing to many examples where big companies have left gaping holes unpatched for months, after being notified. So, they conclude, the more effective tactic is to out them publicly — which has obvious downsides.

    I won’t defend all of his, and his group’s, actions. There are ways to go about this sort of thing without being a dick about it.

    As far as the AT&T stock price goes, I also read a Reuters story, which made no mention of charges filed for securities fraud. Just no way for me to know whether their actions actually had any material affect.

  20. Tom from WNY
    Tom from WNY January 25, 2013 10:19 pm

    Regarding the NY SAFE Act: I have spent a number of sleepless nights and worrysome days since the Dictatorship ruled thus. I gave much thought to what tactics could be employed to bring pressure to bear upon the tyrants.

    I must thank those brave patriots in the NY Senate and Assembly who stand for a Constitutional Republic. Most are from my end of the feifdom and do not look upon those who elected them as serfs. They deserve support.

    After thinking upon the power of many and of the $$ of the many, as well as what happened to the ESOS; I believe if this letter could be sent by NY firearms owners (e-mail or snail mail) AND by those from the to be enslaved states (the legislation enacted in NYS is being proposed in other States and at the Federal level as well); we may, just may, have a chance to deliver a clear message to the tyrants. I am sending this to the e-mail accounts of firearms and accessory manufacturers using magazines promoting the Tacticool stuff. Just like what the tyrants don’t want us to have (and I guess they included the Police as they were not specifically exempted, nor is the Legislature rushing to do so).

    I am a law abiding New York State firearms owner and taxpayer. I do not appreciate that the Government of my State is making me a criminal; especially to serve the venial, pernicious ego of some of our politicians.

    In the SAFE act, there were no provisions for transfer of “large capacity ammunition feeding devices” or possession of same by Law Enforcement. After April 15, 2013, it will be illegal to sell a magazine holding more than 7 rounds in NYS.

    As a law abiding gun owner in New York State, I cannot, in good consciousness, support purchasing any product from any manufacturer who:

    A) Does not immediately cease to ship to New York State any magazine of greater than 10 round capacity. Cease shipment of magazines of 7-10 rounds after April 15. Standing contracts signed prior to January 14, 2013, for magazines holding more than 10 rounds for law enforcement firearms should be filled in accordance with contract terms; as well as exempting sales to Federal Agencies. This applies across the board; civilian and law enforcement sales.

    B) Continues to ship handguns for any reason, including law enforcement sales, to New York State capable of accepting a magazine holding more than 7 rounds. Again, exempt current standing contracts in force prior to January 14, 2013 and Federal sales.

    C) Does not immediately cease shipment of any rifle or carbine that meets the NY definition of an assault rifle to New York State for any reason, including law enforcement sales. Again, exempt standing contracts in force prior to January 14, 2013.

    When the laws are changed to allow us, law abiding New York citizen firearms owners, to retain our pre-9/13/1994 (Federal AWB) magazines without criminal penalty and have new 10 round or 10+ round magazines that we can load and carry, then, by all means, please ship full capacity magazines and handguns, with proper restrictions and legal disclaimers.

    Thank you for your understanding and cooperation. While this may seem like an odd request, we, in New York appreciate the support of those in industry who see our situation.

    I hate to throw any group under the bus, but this is a fight for what remains of our God Given Natural Rights. When the Sheriff’s Association of NY considers the SAFE act to be such a poorly designed piece of legisation designed only to strip Citizens of their rights, well, take it for what it is worth.

    Can we count on some help?

  21. Claire
    Claire January 26, 2013 6:36 am

    Tom — I worry for you New Yorkers, and for everybody whose state is likely to use NY’s dumb law as a model. And for all of us who are going to have to fight this damned battle all over again.

    Do you have a website for the boycott campaign? And what’s your plan for when the legislature tweaks the law to exempt cops?

  22. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty January 26, 2013 7:28 am

    G.W.F., Thanks! That sounds great. I was not aware of the “freeze” thing. Why isn’t that better known? I’m a little confused about just what it does, however. If I “freeze” this, will I be able to continue to use my lone little credi card, or does it freeze everything?

    I can live without it if I need to, just wonder. So far I’ve only had two fraudulent charges on my credit cards in the 25 years I’ve had one. Both were resolved without much trouble and there was no indication of actual identity theft in either case… just someone using the number. No idea how they got it, but I’m assuming that’s not really difficult.

    As for any of the “opt out” things… I’ve tried many times. It “works” just as long as you never order anything again by phone, mail or internet. The moment you do that… you are soon back on the lists again.

    Actually, I’ve not had a lot of calls since I came to Wyoming, and most of the hated telemarket calls are from recordings, so I just hang up or don’t answer if the caller ID indicates it. There is no way to block a lot of charity or political calling, so I just deal with it. The ones that piss me off the most – and are the most frequent – are those from various outfits selling “Medicare” crap.

    Really interested in this “freeze” thing. I’ll look into it.

  23. G.W.F.
    G.W.F. January 26, 2013 8:16 am

    MamaLiberty, That was my question as well when I froze my own profile years ago. I have no loans/liens and no wish to get any. I own my home and vehicle and really don’t ever want to be in that position of paying interest to banks again. I do use a credit card for all my purchases (I can keep track of purchases, pay just one bill each month, and instead of paying interest I usually get $50 cash rebate deposited in checking each month).

    The freeze does not do anything with existing accounts. Any credit card (or other credit account) will continue to report your account activity to the credit bureaus. It does not cause any issues with your current card(s).

    There was a big debate years back on who “owns” your credit profile. Many consumers felt like it is their profile, so I should be able to lock it down. The credit bureaus claimed they spent time and money developing a ‘profile’, so THEY owned that information and could do anything they wanted with it. The compromise, was if a consumer wants to do that freeze and lock down a profile, the bureau can collect a small fee for that. I hate paying for stuff like that, but $7.50 (varies by state and in most cases if you are a identity theft victim it is free) over five years seemed to be worth it for me. I know many people that have been victims on identity theft, so if I can prevent that it was well worth the cost.

  24. Claire
    Claire January 26, 2013 8:20 am

    MamaLiberty — I won’t pretend to answer for G.W.F., who has more expertise than I. But I do know that a credit freeze doesn’t prevent you from using your existing credit. It merely prevents anybody from opening new credit in your name. It’s usually used by people who have strong reason to believe their identities have been compromised, but I suppose it could be used as a precaution.

    Also, while I know you’re right about junk mail somehow always finding a way back into our lives, the particular opt-out link that I posted is strictly for credit pre-screens and the offers that follow them. It’s much more robust than the typical “do not” list. It actually goes directly to the credit bureaus and tells them not to subject you to those pre-screens. So it’s not just a matter of mailing lists, as so much other junk mail is.

  25. Claire
    Claire January 26, 2013 8:33 am

    G.W.F. — My apologies! We were posting at the same time. 🙁

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