Identity Theft, Credit Reporting, etc.

Had breakfast with a few colleagues this weekend and we're all privacy-intrigued people, and we ended up talking about the whole ChoicePoint fiasco a few weeks back. Well, I'm reading the news today and stumble across this article talking about how Equifax will be highlighting their “Credit Watch” product, a kind of insurance/notification system of sorts that reports activity. Of course, it comes at a price. Capitalism at it's finest, no?

So I forward the link onto my fellow cinnamon roll-for-breakfast eaters, and Rose hits me back with:

Right, and here's my other favorite new thing. You can tell all the credit agencies that you want to disallow anyone checking your credit without your approval. You can get on an opt-out list so you no longer get pre-approved credit offers, etc. How do you do it? Oh, it turns out: https://www.optoutprescreen.com/ does it. (It's legit, we checked it with the BBB). Can you find that website on any of the 'big four' credit agencies? Don't be silly! Why would they want you to opt-out of their cash cow? Er, and why again do we have to pay to see our own records (except that one free copy per year?). Their day will come, my friends, oh yes it will.

[… snip …]

In the interest of full disclosure – each of the big four list 800-numbers somewhere on their sites to do the same thing, but again – you really have to hunt to find it.

Guess I'm filling out some web-forms tonight. Maybe I'll save a few trees in the process since I won't be getting so many pre-approval forms.

Tax by the Mile

From Monty comes an article about some states' plans to turn the gas-tax into a per-mile-driven tax. The reasoning is that hybrid cars drive the same amount, but pay less in gas-tax so the states lose money for road maintenance. I counter-argue that all those gas-guzzling H2's and such on the road will counter that.

At any rate, from the technology perspective, seems the guys at Oregon State University are helping to develop some of the technology to put this together. From the article:

Kim and fellow researcher David Porter at Oregon State University equipped a test car with a global positioning device to keep track of its mileage. Eventually, every car would need one.

Now, if this ever gets put into place, I really need to reconsider building that GPS Jammer.

New Stuff on the Site

Added a Book Queue over there on the right ( powered by MTBookQueueToo and MTAmazon ) and finally have a dynamically created Blogroll (powered by a beta of MT Blogroll, which doesn't have a homepage yet.)

Oh, and Jeff pointed this out today online. Pretty damned sweet — a genetic sequence browser for various species' DNA. Wonder if I can get some of this plotted on glossy-poster paper and hung on a wall.