Canadian Law

Epsilon Hack & Canadians

Well, that was some April Fools Day, wasn’t it ?

Epsilon was hacked and confirmed that 2% of their clientelle have had their email lists compromised, Alliance Data confirming that email addresses and their associated names had been stollen from their database.

Bank Info Security has posted a list of companies whose information was compromised. And among these nearly 70 companies are financial institutions, internet merchants and loyalty programs Canadians use.

Most of these companies have already contacted their Canadian customers in regards to this security breach. But what now ?

The Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email advises people to change their email addresses as soon as possible, especially when dealing with financial institutions.

Twelve financial institutions were affected according to CAUCE, namely American Express, Ameriprise Financial, Barclays Bank of Delaware, Capital One, CITI, JP Morgan Chase, Moneygram, Scottrade, TD Ameritrade, TIAA-CREF, U.S. Bank and World Financial Network National Bank. But of course even if you don’t have an account at those financial institutions you should consider changing your email address at your financial institution if you’ve been advised by one of the other companies of this breach on your current email address.

The hackers have probably sold your information by now so you will likely be subjected to emails claiming to be from several financial institutions and online payment companies.

They’re of course hoping people will click on the links included in these emails and provide them with passwords and other information to facilitate identity theft. But of course no financial institution or online merchant will ever ask you to provide personal information by email and these companies always use encypted connections on the internet.

The most recent internet browsers either have a confirmation that the connection is secured or a verification scheme that confirms that the web site you’re visiting is authentic. But of course it is up to the user to keep on eye on the address bar at all times.

Internet users that are versed in Phishing know to look for an https:// and/or a picture of a lock in their address bar because scammers rarely purchase security certificates to scam people out of their information. They usually just stick to variations of a web site address to lure the less knowledgable into providing their passwords or other information on a fake website.

Personally, whenever some company sends me a warning about my account I open up a new tab on my browser and I use my bookmarks to access the site. I never click on the link provided in the email or provide account numbers via email. And if all else fails, I call their toll free number to resolve the issue.

Webmail services also offer anti-spam and anti-phishing options that you might consider using. These have worked quite nicely for me. But of course if push comes to shove the webmail address I use on most sites are disposible.

BTW, if you’re interested in obtaining additional security software or information on related consumer issues, I have some links listed in my Consumer Links that you might find interesting.

Must Reads On Usage Based Billing

The following documents dispell many of the claims used to justify Usage Based Billing : “Canada’s Usage Based Billing Controversy: How to Address the Wholesale and Retail Issues” by Michael Geist and “Myths and Fallacies about Usage Based Billing (UBB)” by Bill St. Arnault.

The later was commissioned by Netflix, who have recently decided to offer additional video quality settings to their customers because of this issue.

For additional information on Usage Based Billing, consult Michael Geist’s blog.

Government Fails. Bill C-32 is Dead

The Copyright Modernization Act has died because of today’s non-confidence vote.

Bill C-32 had been proposed by Tony Clement, the Minister of Industry, and had referred to a Legislative Committee headed by Gordon Brown, MP for Leeds—Grenville (Ontario).

Hopefully it will be re-introduced minus some of the more questionable Digital Lock restrictions.

An Interesting Video On UBB

Click here to view an interesting Youtube video explaining usage based billing and the related issues.

Canadians – Beware of Prepaid Credit Cards

Unlike gift cards issued by retailers in Canada, prepaid credit cards can expire. And there are a multitude of fees that eat away at your balance, including activation fees and transaction fees.

Some even have fees from $1.50 to $2.50 a month on cards that carry a balance more than six or seven months.

So be careful. If you absolutely must get a pre-paid credit card or credit card branded gift card, tell the recipient that he or she needs to use it as soon as possible, well before six months after activation.

CRTC Refuses To Expand Internet Review

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has denied a request from The Public Interest Advocacy Centre and Consumers’ Association of Canada to expand their review of internet billing in Canada.

On February 12th, 2011, these associations had requested that the CRTC investigate the pricing of internet access and accept comments on this subject during their public consultation on usage based billing. But the CRTC denied this request, claiming that “There is no evidence that market forces are not working properly in this unregulated market” in an email published today.

Minister of Industry Tony Clements had stated in a tweet that a “door must still be open to Canadians’ broader concerns re pricing & competition” and in another tweet hinted that he would expand debate on the issue.