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Consumers Need More Information During a Data Breach – Necessary Consumer Protection Legislation (5 of 5)

Consumers Need More Information During a Data Breach – Necessary Consumer Protection LegislationThis is the last in my series of 5 blog posts about some extensive changes proposed for consumer rights legislation announced by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mr. Richard Bruton, TD back in May 2015. The 4 earlier posts were as follows:

This final post is slightly tangential to the proposed legislative changes, but is inspired by the consumer information gaps I highlighted in the most recent post, (title).

In that post, I highlighted that in the spirit of facilitating better purchasing decisions through the provision of better information, it is my view that any contract change notifications should tell customers not only what the new contract terms were, but also what the previous terms were as well.

By clearly and promptly providing giving this information to consumers, businesses would be giving enough information to allow consumers decide how they want to act in light of the new information – i.e. the amended contractual terms.

Extend to That Information Imperative

It’s my view that a similar change should be applied within data protection legislation in Ireland. It should be required of any organisation that is impacted by a data protection issue – a breach, a leak, any kind of data screw-up – should be mandated to contact ALL their customers after any incident. Currently, only those directly impacted (supposedly) by such a data protection issue could be contacted after a data protection breach.

I believe that a mandate on businesses and organisations to provide a wider communication should indicate to each customer whether they have been impacted, they definitely haven’t been impacted, or whether it’s not known yet one way or the other.

Assuming any current communications to impacted customers gives times and dates of any impact, and the data impacted, then this additional information would either put some customers on notice that they may still be impacted, or would provide ease of mind to customers who definitely weren’t interested.

Assumption Contact Would Be Made

I should add in here, the above paragraph assume that the impacted business or organisation would actually be making contact with any of their customers that are impacted by a data breach.

This is actually a big leap, since the Data Protection Commissioner, in their “Breach Notification Guide”, merely required:

that data controllers who have experienced an incident giving rise to a risk of unauthorised disclosure, loss, destruction or alteration of personal data must give immediate consideration to notifying the affected data subjects

Ridiculously, the business or organisation impacted could very well “consider” contacting the impacted customers, but actually decide not to bother contacting them at all.

Remove Uncertainty

So, mandating that contact be made – and to all customers, and not just those impacted – would certainly remove the unnecessary uncertainty the exists currently when a data protection breach is publicised. Frequently, when a data protection breach is identified by a company, where the breach becomes public, there is for a period of time an information vacuum where customers of the business don’t actually know what’s going on.

They’ll know there’s been a breach, but they won’t be told whether they HAVE or HAVE NOT been impacted, and in the absence of this confirmation, they can’t take any definitive action to protect themselves.

While I acknowledge that they can take certain protective, or preventative, measures – i.e. monitor their matters more closely, they don’t know whether they need to start cancelling cards, or closing accounts, or any other definitive protection measures.

Even the current requirement where impacted customers are mandated to be contacted can give rise to uncertainty. Imagine your bank is impacted by a data breach, it’s gone public, and they’ve confirmed they’ll contact impacted people as soon as possible.

You don’t hear from your back after a week. Does that mean you’re not impacted? Does that mean you are impacted but they just haven’t gotten around to contacting you? Or does it mean you’re not impacted at all?

A requirement to contact every customer of an impacted business or organisation would significantly improve the lot of consumers / customers.

Invidious Information Gap

The current solution to this information gap is where a special customer service helpline is provided by the impacted business or organisation where their customers can ring in to ask if they’re impacted by the incident.

This then crosses into a separate area of interest for me – the provision of 1890, 1850 and 0818 contact numbers by most businesses and organisations.

These contact numbers, for those who need to find out if they’re impacted it or not, and call from a mobile (let’s face it, pretty much everyone now) cost more than they should, and minutes on such calls are not deducted from mobile minute bundles.

So, not only might a customer be impacted by a data breach, or even if they’re not, they’re additionally impacted financially by having to pay out of pocket for the phone call made to try to find out if they’re actually impacted at all.

Profiting from a Breach?

This financial impact could be even more galling, if, like SuperValu did a number of years ago, the contact number provided is an 0818 phone number rather than an 1890 or 1850 number (they eventually provided a non-0818 number, but only after the initial panic died down).

It is possible that the business or organisation who is providing an 0818 number will actually earn money on the back of each call a customer would make to that number. So, the longer you’re on hold, or kept talking on a call to an 0818 number, the more money the organisation you’re calling is making.

(This is why, for example, most high profile organisations who provide 0818 contact numbers will make it difficult to find geographic alternative numbers. It would impact their earnings from their telephone calls).

Mandating that impacted organisations contact all their customers would remove the need for these phone calls. I will come back to this topic later on on my SayNoTo1890.com website.

No big deal

As I said in my other post, it’s not like most organisations that we deal with today don’t already have our phone number, or our e-mail address, stored somewhere in their systems.

It is also quite likely that they have a comprehensive marketing platform in place, that assuming we let them, would pump out marketing blurb to us on a regular basis to try to get more and more of our business.

It would take very little for these organsiations then to arrange communications to all their clients to give them an update. They have to do It anyway for impacted customers, so it’s not a big leap to send a different message to the remaining customers to assure them there’s no impact.

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Interested in helping create a SayNoTo1890 smartphone app?

If you’re interested in helping out in a project to create a SayNoTo1890 smartphone app in early 2015, please read more here.

Designing an appropriate SayNoTo1890 smartphone app will make it much easier to dial the geographic alternatives for the 1890, 1850 and 0818 numbers, helping you save even more money. It will also facilitate the sharing of information to gather even more geographic alternatives as well as ensure those numbers are always as up to date as possible.

It’s been something I’ve been thinking about for a while now, and a smartphone app for the SayNoTo1890.com website is a regularly requested feature from the users of the website.

This detailed blog post over on the SayNoTo1890.com website explains how I’d like to go about building this smartphone app, and what assistance I’d like to get and will need to get the app built, hopefully early in 2015.

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SayNoTo1890.com is Now Available Again

If you’ve arrived here looking for the SayNoTo1890.com website, please note that because the site was hacked on Saturday, November 22nd, the site and numbers are temporarily available. I’m currently waiting for some technical support in order to be able to rebuild the site.

Given it’s the weekend, I’m afraid I probably won’t be able to get the site rebuilt now before Monday evening.

You can keep up to date on what’s happening through the @SayNoTo1890 Twitter feed. Or you can check back here later as well where I’ll provide updates as well.

UPDATE: Sunday November 23rdSayNoTo1890.com is now back up and running again. There are some recent updates missing, but the majority of the site is now there again.

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SayNoTo1890.com has been updated. Again.

It’s a few months now since I made some changed to the SayNoTo1890.com website. As I said at the time, I had some reasons for doing so, and thought it was the right thing to do.

Unfortunately, for me mostly, users of the website definitely weren’t happy with the changes that we made. Though the site was more easily searchable, the websites users were vociferous in letting me know they disapproved of the changes made.

So, old changes gone. New website structure in place. And, as it seems based on the feedback, the all important A-Z listings page is now available.

Make sure you bookmark the site, and share it with others. It could save you lots of money on your phone calls, particularly from your mobile.

 

Click here for the SayNoTo1890.com Website.

Click here for the SayNoTo1890.com Website.

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A reminder of the cost implications when calling 1890 numbers

This e-mail came through from a user of the SayNoTo1890.com website recently:

This may be of interest to you. I’ve a revenue demand (which my pay roll dept insists is revenue’s mistake) which gives an enquiry line 1890 203070.

It’s a sooper-dooper system where you tell the computer your pps, it repeats the wrong number to you and you try again etc. Then you get the option of telling the computer the extension number you want (which you obviously were not told). Finally you are given a list of options and you have to repeat the option you want.

This would be fine if the list of options contained other than three seconds of silence followed by ‘None of the Above’. I’m glad I wasn’t ringing from a mobile!

Of course, that’s the beauty of SayNoto1890.com – you can get the geographical alternative for that 1890 203070 Revenue number and save yourself on the cost of calling them.

 

Click here for the SayNoTo1890.com Website.

Click here for the SayNoTo1890.com Website.

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SayNoTo1890.com – about the recent website changes

The website SayNoTo1890.com, if you’re not familiar with it, can save you money on your phone calls if you have a mobile or landline package with included minutes.

Calls to numbers 1890 (Lo-Call), 1850 (Call Save) and 0818 (National Call) do not get allocated from your minutes bundles and can therefore cost you up to 30c more than you’re expect.

Recently I made some changes to the website to make it more searchable – either for company names or for actual telephone numbers. My hope was to make the site a lot more user friendly.

However, in the weeks since I made the changes, I received numerous e-mails from people complaining about the changes made and requesting that I change the website to it’s previous “A-Z” listing format.

Unfortunately, I’m not going to do this. as well as making the website more user friendly, I also made the change to protect the information that I have gathered on the site over the past 3 years.

Three times already, other websites have simply copied and pasted the contents of the website and made it available on their own site. As it takes an amount of time every week to keep the website updated, I’m not going to make it easy for others to simply steal the information to make it available elsewhere.

 

Click here for the SayNoTo1890.com Website.

Click here for the SayNoTo1890.com Website.

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Businesses with websites misleading visitors about costs of calling

Over the past couple of days, I’ve noticed two websites where the businesses behind them are misleading their customers, or potential customers, about the costs of calling to make inquiries.

Misleading 0818 Numbers | TreesOnWheels.ie

The first I noticed is the TreesOnWheels.ie website. This business publishes an 0818 number on their website, but describes it as a “lo-call” number.

When you call an 0818 number from a landline, it can cost 8-9c per minute, while a “lo-call” number should only cost about 4-5c.

If you’re calling from a mobile, that same call can cost you up to 35c per minute depending on which mobile company you’re with.

Worst of all, with an 0818 number, you’re actually contributing directly to the pockets of the company themselves – an 0818 number allows the company to share part of the revenue of the call with the telecoms company.

Misleading 1890 Numbers | Rentokill

Rentokill have taken a different approach on their site. They’re providing two different 1890 numbers for visitors to their website – one business and one consumer. Their website invites visitors to call “for free” on either number.

As above, calling a 1890 number from a landline will cost you 4-5c per minute. But calling from a mobile phone will cost you up to 35c per minute depending on your mobile provider.

Yesterday evening, I e-mailed Rentokill to let them know the issue with their Contact Page, and suggested they either provide alternative numbers, or confirm the costs to people calling the numbers provided.

With regards to whomever is behind TreesOnWheels.ie, I can only surmise that those behind the website are intent on misleading anyone visiting their website and deciding to call.

Even after being informed of the issue with describing an 0818 number as “lo-call” over the weekend, they have kept the 0818 number there, and have kept the “lo-call” description also.

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Can you help save money on geographic alternative phone calls via SayNoTo1890.com

As well as ValueIreland.com and Thrift.ie, another website that I maintain is the SayNoTo1890.com site. This site will save you money on calling 1890, 0818 and 1850 numbers by providing geographic alternative phone numbers instead.

In case you’re not familiar with the website or the money saving idea behind it, here’s the blurb from the site:

For many people who have inclusive bundles of minutes with their landline and mobile phone packages, you’re still charged extra to call 1890, 1850 and 0818 numbers. The calls sometimes cost more than you’d expect given they’re called Lo Call or Call Save numbers, especially when calling from mobiles.

This website will provide you with geographical alternative phone numbers for the many companies that insist on still using these phone numbers – even though they’re costing their clients more than it should to get in contact with them.

A geographical alternative phone number is a local telephone number, which when called is normally subtracted from your minutes bundle allocation instead of you being charged extra.

Right now I’m in the middle of trying to make the site a lot more user friendly and easier to search than it is right now. However, while that’s being done, if you’re able to provide a geographical alternative for any of the following 1890, 1850, or 0818 numbers, please e-mail me here and I’ll publish them on the website for all to use.

Click here for the SayNoTo1890.com Website.

Click here for the SayNoTo1890.com Website.

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SayNoTo1890.com – More geographic alternative numbers now available

Yesterday, over on SayNoTo1890.com, I made some updates to the main A – Z page with a series of new geographic alternative phone numbers for 1890, 1850 and 0818 phone numbers.

In case you’re not familiar with the website or the money saving idea behind it, here’s the blurb  from the site:

For many people who have inclusive bundles of minutes with their landline and mobile phone packages, you’re still charged extra to call 1890, 1850 and 0818 numbers. The calls sometimes cost more than you’d expect given they’re called Lo Call or Call Save numbers, especially when calling from mobiles.

This website will provide you with geographical alternative phone numbers for the many companies that insist on still using these phone numbers – even though they’re costing their clients more than it should to get in contact with them.

A geographical alternative phone number is a local telephone number, which when called is normally subtracted from your minutes bundle allocation instead of you being charged extra.

 

Click here for the SayNoTo1890.com Website.

Click here for the SayNoTo1890.com Website.

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Thoughts on the ComReg Consultation paper regarding 1890/1850/0818 numbers

I’ve written on Monday and Tuesday about the new ComReg consultation paper that is looking to deal with the reason behind this site – the increased cost of calling 1890/1850/0818 numbers from mobile phones and landline users using bundles of minutes.

Firstly, let me apologise for inviting you to read the consultation paper itself. Having read through it myself, it’s a nightmare to try to understand. Whether that’s done on purpose, or not, it’s hard to know.

However, the heart of the matter resides on page 40 out of 42 where the paper reviews “Impact assessment and preferred option”.

According to the paper, this is the preferred option:

9.6.1 Preferred option – Bundling
ComReg considers that the most appropriate and consumer-friendly way to address all of the issues associated with more transparent consumer call charges is to include calls to 1850, 1890, 0818 and 076 in tariff bundles offered by fixed and mobile operators.

This move would greatly enhance transparency as customers could then be able to call these numbers with confidence knowing that the cost would be deducted from their remaining minutes. ComReg considers that the issue of bundling lies within the realm of the operator‟s commercial freedom and it therefore limits itself, for the moment, to encouraging operators to implement this option without delay.

Are people in agreement? In what seems like the simplest solution in the document, a change is made that requires operators to include calls made to these numbers in bundled minutes rather than separately charge.

At least when it comes to 1850 and 1890 numbers? The fact that these were originally excluded from bundles was the key reason for setting up this website in the first place.

From my perspective, I would personally call for abolishing the 0818 numbers – these are basically a “poor mans” premium rate number. Consumers calling these numbers are paying money directly into the pocket of the company they’re calling, as well as paying for the cost of the call as well. Do away with it, prevent businesses from providing customer care lines on premium rate lines, and be done with the 0818 completed.

The impact analysis in the document doesn’t see any “down side” to this proposal for 1890 and 1850 numbers.

In fact, it highlights what could be a marketing opportunity for telecoms operators – “Consumers may opt to switch to those operators offering enhanced inclusive minutes bundles.”

Let me know your thoughts. If people are in agreement, I’ll submit a response on behalf of the users of this website in favour of their preferred option – with the extra suggestion that 0818 numbers be done away with completely.

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