Postmaster General Angry At Wachovia Over ID Theft Ad

Postmaster General John Potter is mad as hell at Wachovia! He’s accusing them of ‘really doing a disservice to the American public’ with an ad that suggests mailing your bills puts you at greater risk of ID theft than paying them on-line. Potter says this simply isn’t true:

“I have no problem with competition — it’s a good thing, it can keep everyone at the top of their game,” he said. “All I ask for is a little honesty when you’re doing it.” Asked specifically about the bank, he accused Wachovia of “really doing a disservice to the American public.”

“To me it’s absurd that the bank is pointing to the mail when we know that [the web] is like the Wild Wild West,” he said.

“We are not doing enough to inform the American people about what is going on with identity theft. We are much more comfortable to sweep it under the rug.”

Potter sits on a multi-agency task force that is examining ID theft. He says the task force’s report will show that the majority of ID theft comes from sources other than the mail: “employee or insider data theft, computer hacking, phishing, lost or stolen wallets and even people rifling through the trash.” We’ve seen the ad in question, and it is sort of misleading.

You should be sure to mail your bills by dropping them off at the post office not by leaving them out on the stoop where anyone can pick them up. —MEGHANN MARCO

Postmaster General Takes Umbrage With Wachovia Ad
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  1. rhombopteryx says:

    Truth hurts much??? The Postmaster General might not like it, but that doesn’t mean its not true…

    From Identity Theft survey data: (summarized at http://www.privacyrights.org/ar/idtheftsurveys.htm)

    ” Most thieves still obtain personal information through traditional rather than electronic channels. In the cases where the method was known, 68.2% of information was obtained off-line versus only 11.6% obtained online.
    Conventional methods such as through lost or stolen wallets, misappropriation by family and friends, and theft of paper mail are among the most common ways thieves gain access to information. “

  2. Morgan says:

    @rhombopteryx: I wonder what the 20.2% that was neither online nor offline entails… I would think that on or offline would be a binary system.

  3. Uriel says:

    I thought Potter used carrier owls to deliver mail?

  4. tubgnome says:

    He says the task force’s report will show that the majority of ID theft comes from sources other than the mail:

    Sounds to me like he’s made a foregone concusion. I hate these “task forces” that are really only formed to shore up support for one way or another of operating. Data can be interpreted in so many ways, I wonder how they’ll ignore the data rhombopteryx mentioned…

  5. Buran says:

    @nerodiavolo: Identity thieves are now hiding under owl routes with shotguns, shooting the owls down, and stealing the mail. Even though it’s a federal crime to interfere with the mail…

  6. @nerodiavolo: Dang, beat me to it!

    Really, rather than claiming that ID theft rarely happens through the mail, how about educating the public about how to prevent ID theft from occuring if they have to send sensitive information through the mail?

  7. lordkenyon says:

    All the post offices in my area have signs up advising people to get P.O. Boxes to reduce identity theft.

  8. rhombopteryx says:

    @Morgan:

    not that round numbers ever show up in these surveys, but presumably the remaining 20% are ID thefts that use some of each – your slack roommate steals your mail and your AOL password.

  9. Melov says:

    As long as you’re a smart computer user, there is no way someone is going to steal your identity. The risk is extremely greater when you mail things. Who knows how many hands it goes through before it gets to you, and it’s never guaranteed.

  10. mac-phisto says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!

    evidently, bona fide wachovia personnel hand deliver the bills you pay online that cannot be processed electronically! right…a good percentage of online payments are still paid via check & sent thru *GASP* the mail!

  11. Yourhero88 says:

    “…we know that [the web] is like the Wild Wild West,”

    I love that he put that second ‘wild’ in there, referring not to the turn of the century American west, but instead to the campy tv/movie remake with Will Smith.

    Yes, the intarweb is wrought with giant mechanical spiders and Selma Hyak

  12. JakCrow says:

    What’s even more hilarious about Wachovia’s ad is that the company knowingly sells their customers’ data to known criminal fraudsters. Oh Wachovia! How do you play both sides?

  13. Sudonum says:

    Somewhat off topic, anyone hear about a breach at Lexis-Nexis recently? My wife got a letter from them yesterday stating that she might have had her identity “compromised” because someone hacked their system. She has had some problems starting about a month ago.

  14. gorckat says:

    68.2% of information was obtained off-line versus only 11.6% obtained online.
    Conventional methods such as through lost or stolen wallets, misappropriation by family and friends, and theft of paper mail are among the most common ways thieves gain access to information. “

    So multiple methods, including but not limited too mail theft, equal the 68%

    Depending on how that 68% breaks down, he might be right.

  15. bluwapadoo says:

    POSTMASTER GENERAL: “Kramer, I’ve been, uh, reading some of your material here. I gotta be honest with you: you make a pretty strong case. I mean, just imagine. An army of men in wool pants running through the neighborhood handing out pottery catalogs, door to door.”

    KRAMER: “Yeah! Ha ha.”

    POSTMASTER GENERAL: “Well, it’s my job. And I’m pretty damn serious about it. In addition to being a postmaster, I’m a general. And we both know, it’s the job of a general to, by God, get things done. So maybe you can understand why I get a little irritated when someone calls me away from my golf.”

  16. gafpromise says:

    What Sudonum said. Do you not remember the multiple cases in which millions of user accounts were stolen or “missing” from various companies lately, including TJX? I can’t believe the statistics y’all are quoting reflect those incidents. Where do they fit in?

  17. erica.blog says:

    @Melov: As long as you’re a smart computer user

    That’s the problem, the vast majority of computer users are NOT smart — or, even if they are smart people, they just aren’t aware of various online dangers. My grandparents come to mind, there’s a very good reason we’ve recommended to them repeatedly to not get a computer… they’re not idiots, they just don’t know better and they’re from a more trusting generation.