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Consumer Protection versus Data Protection – and consumers lose!

I was listening to Newsbalk this morning where they were talking about another credit card skimming incident, this time in Galway.

What struck me again about this incident, as well as the original story last week, was the failure of the banks, the Gardai or IPSO – “the representative industry body, the voice and guardian of the payments industry” – to let potential victims of these scamming incidents know which credit card providers were impacted, and which shops the skimming took place in.

We were told that the banks would be following up with the impacted consumers – but we know what the banks are like here so you wouldn’t put much faith in that happening quickly.

So, the only way people will know that anything is up is through the limiting of their credit limits – presumably then when the customer rings up, the bank will inform them of what’s going on and what should happen next.

And why aren’t we told that our credit cards are at risk of being skimmed – data protection regulations apparently. I can’t find any information online at least as to why this is the case, but it seems highly ridiculous to me.

It’s apparently against data protection regulations to let consumers know that they are potentially at risk of having money stolen from them. It’s against data protection regulations to give consumers the information that they would need in order to allow them protect themselves against being ripped off by credit card skimmers.

Or is it that somewhere there’s an agreement that in the interests of protecting the businesses impacted and the credit card suppliers that their names won’t be published in the media. If a shop is announced in the media as having been stupid enough to allow scammers install a skimming mechanism right under their noses, how likely are customers to go back into the shop in the future – their business would go down. And if a credit card supplier is found to be susceptible to skimming, how likely are people to continue to be, or to continue to be, their customers.

This is nuts!!! Data protection is about protecting the data of individuals – not the reputation of businesses who are sloppy in their actual data protection responsibilities.

On the other hand, if there is some data protection law that is preventing this information from being published – someone should do something!!!

Maybe we could have the the fuckers* at the National Consumer Agency which was set up to “defend consumer interests at the highest levels of national and local decision making” write a nice letter to the Data Protection Commissioner to get changes made to allow the names of impacted shops and credit card providers be named in public.

This is something that would definitely be a positive move that would be of benefit to the consumer – but that would cause the first instance, I think, where one arm government would be expected to go up against another arm of government in order to defend the rights of consumers – something that from Day 1 I and many others never expected to happen.

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