3 million customer credit cards stolen from Michaels stores...

michaels.jpgMany of the ladies at Clearnote Church like to shop at Michaels, and the crafts retailer has just announced a security breach at a number of their stores nationwide. It looks like the Bloomington store is on the list for having been breached, as are a number of Indianapolis and Toledo stores.

If you have shopped at Michaels during the specified timeframe, watch your credit card charges over the next few weeks and be sure to report anything you don’t recognize. I recommend reading this post by Brian Krebs explaining the incident. Then, I would also recommend reading his article, Are Credit Monitoring Services Worth It? It turns out that credit card monitoring services are mostly worthless. Credit card fraud and identify theft are no fun, however, and there are some pretty basic things you can do to protect yourself against them.



Lucas Weeks

Lucas serves as an assistant pastor at Clearnote Church in Bloomington, Indiana. Although he pines for the warm, tropical weather that was familiar to him growing up in west and central Africa, he has since made peace with the harsher climates of North America.

Want to get in touch? Send Lucas an email!


"It turns out that credit card monitoring services are mostly worthless."

An illustration: if you work in a large company, you likely have security process to follow, e.g. having "3 points for verification", better if each point is a different KIND of information from the others, and even better if they are not, in fact, all contained on the bills put into your mailbox: they usually are such that security is, really, a joke.

My point here is: companies live or die by meeting demand, "consumers" (I hate that term) can't demand what they don't even understand and, more importantly, "value": security, like helping poor people, is an after-thought that occurs when something dire happens. Before that, they angrily rage at you for requiring that information before you offer your labors to who could otherwise be a complete stranger and no customer at all, or who could be attempting to access your customers' accounts and information.

For credit cards to be secure, there must be some technical understanding, and Americans are not only woefully technically incompetent, they've surrendered technology to the very liberal, who are often those disaffected by their conservative parents heartlessness and in turn become a sort of twisted breed of heartlessnes, zealotry for faux care in reaction to the faux concerns of their parents, and contemptuous of ordinary people--or at least dismissive when anyone cries at pain when their bank accounts get dumped.

All day long, we take calls from people who suffere problem after problem because they cannot be bothered to learn anything about the machines they use every day to live by, and they also refuse to learn basic security and to stop browsing...*risky*...sites. But the most common problem is simply impatience to read: you DON'T click "just to make these dang windows go away!!!!" You respond to them intelligently--and if you can't, call someone who can or do some research: most end-up installing tons of garbage, toolbars, and simply letting mob-sponsored attacks right on to their computers.

And then they call raging at you, an agent for an ISP, for their carelessness and something that's not even your liability: their computer. Try explaining the difference and they get angry, using the addition of "...with a computer" or simply the inclusion of "computer" somewhere as a automatic termination of thought. Get them to accept it, e.g. "your computer is like your faucet, the internet is like the water sent to your house by the utility; we aren't liable for your faucet", and they simply start threatening to cancel.

I gave-up caring (or pleasing my QAs) about such stupid threats and childishness and my productivity has ballooned: don't know if/when I'll be fired but servicing the typical American demands just isn't worthwhile. There is a significance to all this though:

Credit cards, like our entire banking cartel, are built on very old technologies: known quantities that are hard to be rid of not only because legislators, like businesses, only do what their constituents make a deal out of--or what they can twist to be meeting such demands--and they have put in place the financial system and control it like they do the lives of homeless (they're illegal). They are tied into that system, and they are fundamentally insecure. Quite a lot could be done to make fraud, etc., impossible: nothing is. They're probably worried about customers inundating them with calls to retrieved passwords that are long enough to be secure, or requiring passwords every swipe, no excuses.

And like the "just make it work" pathetic beings who call every day, their customers value convenience and ease and immediate gratification over anything substantial, designed well, secure, conscientious: so they get what they deserve--and in the process harm the innocent--because giving them more would likely be the difference between being competitive and inviable. Put another way, they whine about corporations being careless and psychopathic, but really if they're not run sociopathically they lose rather than make money, and nobody there wants to be on the streets in today's America: they know how Americans actually are to those who are unsightly and without representation, and who can't be made a big cause to feel good about and therefore be worth helping so people can feel good about themselves.

And I wish this was cynicism, but as someone long in such a position of neediness/exposure, I know better than to think otherwise. The up-side is if I ever get out, I know now what it means to be helpless, and the importance of being their advocate and aid. I think this sums pretty well the truth of Western Society in regards the true poor,


I used a credit card at Target on nearly the last day of their security breach. Within a month, without a request from me, the bank from which the card was issued had sent me a card with a new number. Target had a poster in their store offering free credit monitoring for anyone who used their cards during the breach, but it was a moot point for me with my new number. I am going to guess that Michaels will offer the same monitoring, and banks will replace cards without being asked.

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