Protect your Visa card online...

My father will be 80 years old this year.  He was born in 1929, prior to the stock market crash.  He has lived through an extraordinary life and continues to do so.  I can truly say that he is someone whom I admire deeply and would list as my top hero.  It is, perhaps, with age that we appreciate the contribution of our parents to who we are.  One thing I admire about my father is his ability to connect with people.  He carries with him some surprising biases, but he maintains a courtesy and civility to everyone which (I think) truly reflects his feelings.  This courtesy, alas, also extends to the internet. 
A couple of years ago we set him up with a computer.  He is interested in genealogy and we though this may be a good way to get him moving on his projects.  Like me, my dad has a variety of interests and often starts projects with good intentions, only to see them idle on a shelf.  Family history has remained a constant, if inconsistent, pursuit.  In his introduction to the internet, he has met every Nigerian bank officer, deposed dictator, European heiress and other e-mail persona hucksters and con artists care to offer.  I am not sure he has a skeptical bone in his body.  Worse, these e-mails are becoming more sophisticated.  Social engineering techniques and phishing sites are creating more compelling messages designed to part us from our identity, cash or both!  
The message below arrived in my inbox today and I though of dad.  Aside from the horrible English, the message appears legitimate - save that any contact from your Visa card would have at least two or three personal identifiers.  My dad is not alone, there are a host of individuals on the net who - with complete innocence - respond to suspicious e-mails and enter far too much information on websites.  Who we are is one of the last elements that remains protected.  Even the Lifelock CEO, who promotes his program by using his social security number, has found himself the victim of fraud and deceit.

From: VerifiedbyVisa []
Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2008 2:33 AM
To: undisclosed-recipients
Subject: Protect your Visa card online with a personal password
Importance: High

Protect your Visa card online with a personal password


Create an additional password to protect your existing card for online purchases

We are proud to announce that Visa Europe in association with all European and U.S. banks launch a new campaign against online fraud and reward all participants with a 50,00 Euro bonus just for enroll and secure your card. Your personal bonus code is VISA-884AM-4423-2008 ( after you use the code please delete the email or keep it private, conform our privacy  and policy you cannot use your code twice, for more info please visit our Privacy and Policy )

Please enroll now by clinking the Global Visa Site select your country and follow the easy steps for a better security on your card.


    Do not be the next victim and fight with us against credit card fraud. 

  • The overwhelming amount of deception and trickery on the web is not simply confined to attempts to steal your identity.  A host of individuals who promote their own agenda or worldview make their home in the ether, complete with seemingly authentic endorsements, credentials and "facts".  Most recently, Deepak Chopra quoted Wikipedia for a count of civilians killed in the Iraq war.  Never mind that this figure is hotly debated by expert agencies, to quote Wikipedia is akin to saying;
    "I heard it from my cousin's, brother-in-law's step sister."   
    There is a lot of good research and information on Wikipedia, but all of it must be validated and no one will take a Wikipedia reference as a valid source.  No matter your cause, you can find support on the web.  Denizens of Lemuria among us, Chemtrails, Illuminati control of the banking system, suppression of real news (Ken McCarthy's BrasscheckTV is a purveyor of such bunk), anti-Vaccination / Autism adherents (Jenny McCarthy is a dedicated mom and a passable actress - but she is no scientist), and the list goes on forever.  In fact, take this challenge.  Make something up.  Google it.  I would be willing to bet that your neophyte idea is on the web - even if only in satirical form. 
    Trouble is, like these compelling e-mails, it takes time, energy and a skeptical approach to sort the truth from the lies.  Most people either don't care, don't have the time or skills to dig a little deeper.  Do you read all the terms on that credit card application you just filled out?  Do you realize the introductory rate is null and void if you are more than 15 days late on a payment?  Do you know the new rate will be the maximum allowed by law, sometimes as high as 31% APR? 
    Read the fine print.
    Check the sources.
    Dig a little deeper.
    Know the bias.


    Major (P) John said…
    "Illuminati control of the banking system"

    What?! And here I am working for the Gnomes of Zurich. It ain;t fair I tells ya.