I knew this was coming . . .

UPDATE 2/14: I called CitiBank today to get a new card, and the customer service rep. I spoke with knew exactly what I was talking about. The Globe notified all the major card companies, and CitiBank has flagged all of the accounts affected. The customer service rep. said they are monitoring those accounts closely and will call the cardholder if they see any unusual activity. He also told me that no CitiBank accounts have been affected by the Globe’s mess-up, which confuses me. I use a CitiBank card to pay for my Globe subscription. The Globe notified me that they compromised the security of my account by releasing the card number, expiration date and name on the card. CitiBank says that they have determined that no CitiBank accounts have been affected. Huh? I’m not going to pursue this for an explanation because I don’t want to call the Globe and CitiBank a million times to try and figure out what they are talking about, but a wire got crossed somewhere.

In the last year or so, I’ve been reading about the various disclosures of bank and credit card account info by the companies who have been messing this stuff up. You know, boxes are lost, SSNs printed on shipping labels, databases hacked. When I read those articles, I would always wonder when it would happen to me. After all, I use my credit and debit cards to pay for almost everything I buy, and I pay all my bills with one or the other (and I pay them online). A friend of mine was affected last summer by one of the breaches, though his bank reacted so fast that his card got rejected at the coffee shop he goes to the morning after the breach was reported — his bank closed all of the affected accounts immediately, then started contacting their affected customers. That’s fantastic customer service, if you ask me. But, the point here is that I think something like this will happen to just about everyone eventually. It’s just a matter of time.

Anyway, last weekend The Boston Globe and the Wocester Telegram & Gazette (both owned by the New York Times Co.) messed up. I just found out about this, so I’m not exactly sure how it happened. As far as I can determine, last weekend they somehow disclosed “confidential subscriber information” including payment information; presumably the other “confidential” info was subscriber contact info. I think it was delivered with bundled papers to the delivery people or something. As of this morning when I found out, they had set up a searchable database for subscribers to find out if their information was disclosed, and mine was.

On their website, they say they are notifying all the major credit card companies as well as the three credit bureaus, and telling them which accounts were affected. They have also arranged for every affected customer to recieve one year of free credit monitoring through Experian. I signed up for that today. I also called my credit card company and asked them to flag my account or whatever they do. The rep did that, but she was more interested in trying to talk me into “converting” my card to the Bling Bling Diamond Awesome card or whatever. If it weren’t for the fact that I have a ton of pending charges right now (school books and yarn, mostly) I would close the account and open a new one. I’ll wait until everything that’s pending posts, and see if I can get my company to send me the information to get one of those cards with your picture on it. Doesn’t help when the information is stolen in this way, but I’ve been thinking about doing it for a while, and I might as well do it all at once.

At least the Globe has (recently, anyway) stopped calling me every five minutes to get me to upgrade from a Sunday-only to a full-week subscription. Every five minutes is only a slight exaggeration. They call for days on end, multiple times each day, and at all different hours of the day and night, in hopes of getting me to pick up the phone. I would finally break down and answer, tell them I’m not interested and the calls would stop . . . for a few weeks. Then they would start up again. I told them to take me off the list, they stopped calling for a few months, then started again. I finally answered and told the caller that I had asked to be removed from the list, and she hung up on me. I haven’t heard from them since, but I’m not holding my breath.

Given this most recent screw-up, if they start calling again I think I will tell them “No, I don’t want to upgrade my subscription but I would like to cancel it. I would rather walk up to the store and purchase the paper every Sunday than have you people call me all the time when I have twice instructed you to stop, and when you have also managed to disclose my credit card number and contact information.”

And I was having such a great day up until I discovered this.

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4 thoughts on “I knew this was coming . . .

  1. Hey there!

    Well, I’m sorry to hear that you were affected, but a huge thank you for the information about how to look up which subscribers were on the list because, well, it turns out we were too. I suppose the bright side is the one year of free credit monitoring? Fingers crossed that our info disappears into the non-sinister ether…

    🙂 Jen

  2. Yikes!

    I hope it all gets straightened out, and the damage control is as painless as possible. That’s scary, but you’re right: it could be any of us at any time. Sometimes the Luddites know what’s up.

  3. It was his debit card, technically, and a fair number of coffee shops will take debit cards now. Some of the smaller independent places will not, but some of them will. His is one.

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