#129: I’ve Got Your Info

[F.U.C.K. is an e-zine that I started on January 24, 1993 and ended on January 24, 2000. One concept is that articles should be timeless if possible, so they were not released with dates. As such, the date on this blog is not exact but I will try to use a date as close as possible.]

Every day you go about your business, working, going to school, taking care of kids, lounging around, whatever. The whole time you do this, you are losing money that is rightfully yours, but is ending up in other people’s hands. Basic pieces of information about you are sold each day to different companies.

    Your Name
    Your Social Security #
    Your Phone Number

Typically, there is more information like your address, age, gender, etc. That information is contained in hundreds (probably thousands) of databases around the world. Each day, more and more telemarketing companies buy those databases from other companies. These are then used as ‘leads’ for potential sales and harassment from sales people.

    Here is the chain:
    Company 1 sells YOUR info to Company 2.
    Company 2 calls you and tries to sell you shit.
    Company 2 sells a little, goes through the whole database.
    Company 2 sells YOUR info to Company 3.
    The chain continues...

The whole time, they are making money from YOUR info. Fair? Of course not. Here is where I usually try to suggest something to do about the problem.. except I can’t suggest shit in this case. Once your info is out there, you are fucked. Each day another company will make money as you get harassed.

First thing you can do, if someone calls and tries to sell you something, ask them where they got your name. Be hostile, YOU’RE the customer after all. Tell them to remove you from the database and to never call you again. If they do (the same company), that is legitimate reason to complain about harassment. Play the ‘Lemme talk to your manager’ game. Keep talking to ‘your manager’ until you get to talk to someone who actually has some power. I don’t know what current laws regarding this are, but if you ask/tell them to remove YOUR information, I would imagine they have to by law. Of course, with the current fucked up legal system, that may be totally wrong.

Apparently, there is a single master database full of info. No doubt a government controlled computer somewhere, that contains full info on anyone registered to vote, drive, breathe, or whatnot. This contains basically everything, from name/age/birthdate, to how many kids you have, travel history, etc. Ever wonder how baby products/flyers/coupons show up in the mail of families that just had a baby? People are paid to sit there and add to this database, utilizing information from any one of a hundred sources. From this master database, other companies can do searches for certain information. They can pull everyone who in the past two years took a cruise to Tahiti, between the ages of 25 and 27. Scary shit. Idea: Remove yourself from THIS database. Thing is, who owns it? Who do you call? Where do you write to? If people knew that, then you wouldn’t be getting junk mail anymore.

Currently the IRS is working on a system that will contain not only your full info, personal details, but your full financial info. When I say financial info, I am not talking ‘reported income in one year’. I am talking about how many hours you work, what you get paid, average expenditures, average donations to charity, etc. The idea here is, the IRS would like to go to a system where THEY calculate your taxes, not you the citizen. How would that be for a Big Brother environment? As you may have guessed, they are currently suffering from some legal problems in instituting this system.

What is the worse case scenario? Ask ‘Jim Phelps’. ‘Jim Phelps’ was the handle used by a 303 BBSer. He picked that handle because he liked the name, and it sounded real enough so people would think it was his real name. He only used this on BBSs in the 303 area, none of which he had to pay for access. After a year or so of using that handle, he one day started receiving junk mail under that name. You tell me how they got his address to go with it…

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