Tuesday, October 7, 2014

I Have Been Hacked

The numbers are shocking: Personal information from 76 million households may have been compromised as part of the cyber-attack on JPMorgan Chase. That is the equivalent of two out of every three households in the United States, though a small portion of those affected may be overseas. The intrusion compromised the names, addresses, phone numbers and emails of those households, and can basically affect anyone — customers past and present — who logged onto any of Chase and JPMorgan’s websites or apps. That might include those who get access to their checking and other bank accounts online or someone who checks their credit card points over the web. Seven million small businesses also were affected.

While nobody knows what the hackers are planning to do with the data from JPMorgan — if anything at all — privacy experts say the biggest risk is that the thieves will try to extract more sensitive information from affected consumers.  “It would give the thief a call log of who to victimize, but that in and of itself is not enough to steal someone’s identity,” said Matt Davis, a senior victims adviser at the Identity Theft Resource Center. “That is the silver lining there.” There is no evidence that account numbers, passwords, user IDs, dates of birth or Social Security numbers were compromised, according to the bank, nor did the bank suggest that customers change their passwords.

 “I think it is always good practice to regularly watch your accounts,” said Trish Wexler, a JPMorgan spokeswoman. “That is just good financial hygiene.”

It is possible that the thieves could sell the JPMorgan data to others, who could then combine it with publicly available information, found through census data or social media, said Pam Dixon, executive director at the World Privacy Forum, a public interest research group. They could then create sophisticated — and very convincing — emails that targeted individual consumers, a practice known as spear phishing. The goal is to trick consumers into providing Social Security numbers or user names and passwords.

“I would be very conscious of the email you get in the next year, which could be related to this hack,” Ms. Dixon said. “They are really hard to detect. It’s not like, ‘Send me money in the Philippines.’ ”

Legitimate financial services companies, retailers, cellphone companies, government agencies like the Internal Revenue Service and other providers will not (or at least should not) request personal information in an email. But if a customer detects something suspicious about an email, they should contact the company that supposedly sent it. They should not, however, use the phone number in the email — that is likely only to put them in touch with the criminals. The Federal Bureau of Investigation also advises consumers to enter website addresses manually (or, at least, to do a web search for them). In other words, do not follow links inside the email. If a customer’s bank account ultimately is compromised, they will not be held liable for any unauthorized transactions, but they should contact JPMorgan immediately.

Those who want to add a layer of security to their financial life should consider a “security freeze,” one of the strongest tools against theft because it prevents someone from trying to open a new account in a consumer’s name. When you freeze your reports, the big three credit bureaus will not release your credit reports to any company that does not already have a relationship with you. Financial providers and other companies typically request such reports before issuing a new account.

Consumers need to approach each of the three credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — and may need to pay a small fee, depending on where they live. The process can be a hassle because the freeze has to be “thawed,” or lifted, to apply for a new credit card, for instance, or for a mortgage. (And consumers may need to keep PINs and other information handy to do that). But the extra effort may be easier than trying to undo the mess created by a thief.

Then there is the boilerplate advice that all consumers should heed: Regularly monitor all of your accounts; read every transaction on your credit statement every month; and check each of your three credit reports regularly, which you are allowed to do free at least once a year through AnnualCreditReport.com.

Consumers may be desensitized by now, given the frequency and breadth of cyber-attacks on retailers like Home Depot, Target, Michaels, Neiman Marcus and others. Many may even assume that some hacker, somewhere, already has at least some of their personal information. “Security is out of your control,” said Bruce Schneier, a computer security expert. “The only thing you can do is agitate for laws about regulating third-party use of your data and how they store it, use it and collect it.”

COLLEGE CHRONICLES – The Oct. 1 deadline has passed for colleges to post their annual campus security and fire reports, as required by the Clery Act. But as The Columbus Dispatch and the Student Press Law Center recently reported, crime stats are often inaccurate and misleading. The Student Press Law Center dug through the reports of 79 campuses currently under federal investigation for Title IX violations. The Violence Against Women Act requires reports to include stalking, domestic violence and dating violence statistics. But that regulation hasn't been finalized yet, and Education Department officials have asked colleges to follow the VAWA statute "in good faith."

Many reports showed an expected rise over the last two years in sex offenses. Given the increased attention being paid to the issue, from campuses to the White House, experts say a rise in reporting reflects increased awareness rather than an increase in incidents. "What was normal last year, most likely would have no bearing on what is normal this year," said S. Daniel Carter, director of the VTV Family Foundation's 32 National Campus Safety Initiative. "I think collectively, what we're going to see is an overall increase ... That doesn't mean that's going to be the case for every institution."

Other campuses reported fewer offenses this year. Amherst College, facing one of the more high-profile OCR inquiries, reported nine forcible sex offenses after 17 in 2012 and 14 the year before. Reports of sexual assaults, intimate partner violence, stalking and sexual harassment all dropped in the last three years at the University of Michigan's main campus. Forcible on-campus offenses fell from one to zero at Minot State, and they also dropped at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, University of Idaho and Kansas State. Pace University's New York City and White Plains campuses haven't reported a single forcible sex offense in the past three years. The Education Department will report on the collective statistics in the coming months.

POLITICS 101 - STATEHOUSE WATCH -- Latinos and Asians are vastly underrepresented in state legislatures, according to a report by the New American Leaders Project. The report found that of the nation's 7,382 state lawmakers, just 377 are Latino or Asian. Although Asians make up 5.6 percent of the population, only about 1.3 percent of state lawmakers are Asian, and about 3.8 percent of lawmakers are Latinos, compared to 17 percent of the population. The split varies widely by state, with California, Arizona, Hawaii and New Mexico leading the way with the most Latinos and Asians in State Government.

UNEMPLOYMENT LATEST – Unemployment hits a six year low, good or bad? Good, but, household income still is historically low and showing no growth. Companies are beginning to hire but still cheap when it comes to pay. The reason: margins, margins, margins; high fringe benefit costs, overinflated upper management pay scales, and high American Dollar value, all necessitate low payroll to maintain operating profit margins.

SPLITSVILLE, USA - Big has long been a synonym for better in corporate America, but investors are now questioning that notion. We find that they are pressing companies to part ways with slower-growing businesses and focus their efforts on more-promising operations. Corporations around the world have sold or spun off $1.6 trillion worth of subsidiaries and business lines so far this year, just behind 2007’s record-setting pace, according to one estimate. In the latest split, Hewlett-Packard is separating its PC and printing operations from its products and services aimed at large companies. We find that in many cases the value of the separated companies is indeed greater than the unified one.

TV GUIDE - The new season of "Homeland" premieres this week on Showtime -- Season 4 ... begins ... on a new and better course, namely back to where it started. This sophisticated espionage thriller is once again woven around the jagged complexities of its heroine, Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), a bipolar C.I.A. officer whose chief asset is that she is so maladjusted and blindly determined that she detects dangers that nobody else can see. ...

The show's writers [have] put Carrie back in the field, running intelligence operations in Kabul and Islamabad, alert and in command, but also still heeding some offbeat, jangly jazz racing through her head and heart. Her subordinates call her the Drone Queen.

UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT? - Sports TV is among the few types of content that consumers watch almost exclusively live instead of recording for later viewing on DVRs. That’s one of the reasons that the National Basketball Association and its television partners are providing to justify their new $24 billion media-rights deal. They insist it is evidence of the growing value of sports programming in a fragmented media landscape.  Critics say such deals will result in higher cable bills because TV networks usually pass on at least some of the costs of rights to cable and satellite TV providers that carry their channels. Meanwhile, Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting unit announced plans to shed 10% of its workforce on the same day it said it would open its wallet for a costly media-rights deal with the NBA. The move appears to be part of a cost-cutting strategy aimed at freeing up funds to invest in programming and technology.

DETROIT EPITAPH - DetroitThe Tigers went bold, and it didn't work. They traded away a top pitcher, they traded for a top pitcher, they hired a rookie manager, they signed an aging closer, they gambled on track records and big-money stars and they fell short, again. And now they have to be smarter, starting with GM Dave Dombrowski. The Tigers have operated in a series of one-year windows for a while, and they can squeeze out at least one more. But they can't keep doing it the exact same way, loading up the top of the roster, skimping at the bottom, hiding their flaws beneath the stars, so to speak.

The Tigers have been top-heavy for nearly a decade, and while the window remains open, there's a chill wind of change blowing in.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Jeff Bracken …famous conservative, Tony Dungy (59), Karen Hasse …famous sister, David Hidalgo (60), Devorah Lieberman …POTULV, Robb McIsaac …famous cousin, Les Moonves (65), Karla Suffredini …famous sister.

POLLING - AP college football poll, after Shakeup Saturday: 1. Florida State [Last Week: 1] ... 2. Auburn [5] ... 3. Mississippi State [12] ... 3. Ole Miss [11] ... 5. Baylor [7] ... 6. Notre Dame [9] ... 7. Alabama [3] ... 8. Michigan State [10] ... 9. TCU [25] ... 10. Arizona [NR] ... 11. Oklahoma [4] ... 12. Oregon [2] ... 13. Georgia [13] ... 14. Texas A&M [6] ... 15. Ohio State [20] ... 16. Oklahoma State [21] ... 17. Kansas State [23] ... 18. UCLA [8] ... 19. East Carolina [22] ... 20. Arizona State [NR] ... 21. Nebraska [19] ... 22. Georgia Tech [NR] ... 23. Missouri [24] ... 24. Utah [NR] ... 25. Stanford [14].

THE SWAMI NHL Preseason Picks –

The Swami makes his preseason selections on what NHL hockey teams will rule in the coming 2014-15 season:

Eastern Conference:             Atlantic – Boston Bruins      Metropolitan – Columbus Blue Jackets
Other Playoff teams: Florida, Montreal, Tampa Bay, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh

Western Conference:  Central – St. Louis Blues    Pacific – Los Angeles Kings
Other Playoff teams: Chicago, Colorado, Minnesota, Anaheim, Phoenix, San Jose

Eastern Finals: Boston Bruins over the Montreal Canadians
Western Finals: Los Angeles Kings over the Minnesota Wild

Stanley Cup Finals: Los Angeles Kings over the Boston Bruins

Note: for the first time in 23 years the Detroit Red Wings will not make the playoffs.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/11, 3:30 PM ET, Fox: #12 Oregon Ducks (4-1) at #18 UCLA Bruins (4-1). The loser of this game is toast. Bruins 38 Ducks 35.  Season to date (4-2)

SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/11, 1:00 PM ET, Bravo: St. Lawrence University Saints (4-1) at RPI Engineers (4-1). Two undefeated Liberty League conference teams battle it out on the turf field in beautiful Troy, New York. St. Lawrence 24 RPI slide rulers 17.  Season to date (2-3)

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 10/12, 4:25 PM ET, Fox: Dallas Cowboys (4-1) at Seattle Seahawks (3-1). Sea birds are too tough at home, Seattle 28 Dallas 21.  Season to date (3-2)


(NCAA, Oct. 11) USC Tojans (3-2) 21 at #10 Arizona Wildcats (5-0) 35.

(NCAA SCIAC, Oct. 11) Cal Lutheran Kingsmen (1-2) 28 at Redlands Bulldogs (1-2) 35

(NHL, Oct. 12) Anaheim Ducks (0-0) 4 at Detroit Red Wings (0-0) 2

(NFL, Oct. 12) New England Patriots (3-2) 32 at Buffalo Bills (3-2) 35

Season to date (53 - 47)

MARKET WEEK - Wall Street banks are set to report an unusually strong third quarter for fixed income trading according to industry executives, helped by the recent turmoil at Pimco and the tapering of the Federal Reserve's bond buying ... The recovery comes after four straight quarters of dismal revenues from fixed income, currencies and commodities products (FICC) for banks, and is likely to reignite a heated debate over the future of the business.

Senior executives at two of the biggest banks said their results for the third quarter had been good thanks to the recent pick-up in market volatility. One said it should begin to repudiate the widespread belief that fixed income trading is in structural decline. JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs are among the banks that dominate FICC trading in the US. They are all due to report third-quarter results next week, with executives expecting only the second period of year-on-year growth in the past seven quarters.

DRIVING THE WEEK - President Obama meets with his national security team Monday on Ebola ... Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate, is in DC on Monday to give a big speech at AEI laying out his "foreign policy vision" and calling for an increased defense budget. (Remember austerity? Neither does anyone else) ... Greece unveils its 2015 budget today ... JOLTS survey Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. expected to show job openings rising to 4,700K from 4,673K ... Consumer credit at 3 p.m. Tuesday expected to expand by $20B after July's $26B ... FOMC minutes Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. will be pored over for any new signs of hawkishness given the sinking jobless rate ... Hank Greenberg's AIG lawsuit continues in DC with a star-studded witness list including Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson and Tim Geithner ... IMF and World Banks hold annual meetings in DC this week ... IIF holds its annual meeting Friday and Saturday.

Next week: Fall in the garden and auto contract negotiation time.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

La Quinta, CA

October 6, 2014

#V-25, 234


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