Worrying news for three quarters of us

By | September 18, 2017
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You know, when I first started writing these emails each week, I worried there might not be enough to say.

And now it turns out often I’m struggling to fit in all I want to mention.  For example this week there are some handy replies from readers after the email I wrote last time, there’s a worrying case of a big credit company losing millions of customer details (including in some cases credit card details), there’s all the fuss about the new iPhone, I wanted to mention a few things about Facebook at some point… and that’s just to start.

So I’m afraid I can’t write about ALL of it. And so I won’t talk about the new iPhone launch here, even though I’ve got something to say about it that’s quite different from most of the articles you’ll read online.  And Facebook will have to wait.

First off, here’s an email I had from another reader after the one I included last time – another warning worth being aware of:
Hi Tim

I would like to warn your readers about what I consider is a taxi scam.  A firm called Taxicode.com have registered a lot of websites for local towns e.g   BradfordonAvontaxis.co.uk, Trowbridgetaxis etc. The genuine local Bradford on Avon taxi company has tried to close them down and frequently finds their customers, like myself, have been deceived into using their site. When I did a search to book a local taxi firm their site came up at the top of the list and I was given a quote which I accepted. If you try to change or cancel your booking you are hit with excessive charges i.e about three-quarters of the price quoted.
Needless to say my booking was cancelled at the last minute by them but an alternative, and more expensive quote was offered.It seems this firm is a national contact which uses various taxi firms but it is unclear where the firms are located.As you say, websites and email are incredibly useful but one needs to be alert at all times. I find your emails very interesting.

Definitely worth knowing about.

US company loses millions of customer details – including UK ones

You might never have heard of Equifax – at least until earlier this week.  And even if you had heard of them, you probably wouldn’t think you had anything to do with them.

They do credit checking for lots of big companies including companies like BT and so on.  And recently they announced that they’d accidentally let a hacker get at lots of their customer data.

Things like names, addresses, social security numbers in the US… and in some cases credit card details.

In the US it looks like it’s a big problem – but they haven’t yet made it clear how bad it is in the UK.  I’ve seen some headlines saying three quarters of all UK adults are affected – but these headlines are, not to put too fine a point on it, made up.

About three quarters of UK adults have some of their details held by Equifax – but we don’t know that all of them are affected.  Chances are they aren’t all.

And it sounds like the data that’s lost in the UK isn’t quite as bad as in the US.  Equifax are saying that “limited personal data” has been lost in the UK (as opposed to financial data like bank details or card details).  But they refuse to confirm exactly what they mean or to answer questions about how many UK people are affected – I suspect that means they simply don’t know yet.

They have put together a webpage where you can check if you’re affected – but it only works for people with a social security number, so only for US citizens.

So it looks like the situation in the UK isn’t as bad as in the US – but we need to wait and see before we can be certain.
How did it happen?  Well, it sounds like they didn’t patch a system the with latest updates quickly enough.  I could have some sympathy – if they patched it straight away but a hacker just got in there before they did it, that’s one thing.  I really hope it doesn’t turn out that they had just ignored the update, though…

Given some of the other snippets that have come out, I’m not too optimistic that they’ve been careful enough.  Apparently in their subsidiary based in Argentina, it turns out that one of the accounts online that would let you at lists of people had the username “admin” and the password “admin” – and most of their employee’s passwords were simply their surnames.

It’s pretty shocking – hopefully this will act as a wake up call to other companies.

I’ll try to have a more cheerful topic to write about next time! Have a good week.

2 thoughts on “Worrying news for three quarters of us

  1. Derrick Myers

    My son works for an American Company called Digital River who deal with credit card finances for major companies. I passed on your email to ask if he knew of the company in question but no he had not. So it probably is not quite so bad as suggested. He covers Europe and the UK and they must function mainly in the US, although they are world wide.

    Best wishes

    Reply
    1. Tim Wakeling Post author

      Hello
      that’s interesting – they are a US company, but they do work with a lot of the big UK corporations, doing credit checking for the finance deals you can get on appliances, services, cars and so on. But it makes me wonder if they work under different names – I think that’s not unusual in this area, especially if they’ve bought out smaller UK companies in the past.
      Tim

      Reply

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