In the good old days when things were done mostly by hand and phone, crooks and con artists came up with clever ways to steal from stores. Shoplifting–the five finger discount–was popular but risky if you got caught. Stores that offered up charge cards or took credit cards offered ways for the crook to make a living. Often cards were put on a device which impressed the card on a charge slip. And it meant you got a copy of the charge and they did too for processing. Carbon paper used to be used and those crafty cons learned to sift through store garbage cans to retrieve them. Then of course the customer would get his bill and see a lot more had been charged. Today thanks to credit and debit cards, we swipe them on a terminal to pay for our purchases. And the crooks got smart too.
They learned that you can skim the important data by using devices that capture as you swipe. Gas stations have become a real target since a lot of people swipe their debit cards. Grocery stores have been caught too when someone shows up claiming to be from the company that works on those terminals adds a little something to them. Target, a large name in the retail business, got hit hard according to news reports. Just about everyone who used the store between 27 Nov and 15 Dec potentially gave their important credit card and debit card data to these sophisticated thieves. All Target credit and debit cards are effected as are any other credit cards swiped during that time.
Now Target has had to make official statements and apologies. Too bad their customer service is virtually unreachable right now (busy signals and the recorded voice coming on saying all circuits are busy). Go online to check your RedCard perhaps to change your pin on the debit card? Nope, cannot do that either. The website is not working there but you can apply for one! I went down to my local Target in San Bruno, California and spoke to a young man at the Guest Services counter. Sadly I learned that you cannot change your pin there. You have to go to the website or call up to have it done. So I politely asked for some scissors and cut my RedCard debit card in half. He looked unconcerned though the Target checker standing behind him gawked at what I did. I handed him back the scissors and the now decapitated card. And I walked away. I had thought about shopping there that day. I brought my checks with me.
I decided otherwise. They were either cleverly hacked from the outside or someone from the inside did the job. No word yet on how many people have unauthorized charges. So far I have had none but then again debit charges made through Target’s card take a few days to show up (it is processed like a check rather than a straight debit). Already I see people quite rightly mad and complaining how they cannot get through to Target either at the website or by the phone. And how they were exposed to crooks when they swiped their cards. It may, at least for some, warrant some rethinking of using debit cards to pay for things. I loathe to use credit cards for grocery shopping and usually use a debit card (but using the charge function rather than debit). Still it makes one think using checks is not such a bad thing after all. Perhaps the check printers are about to get a bump in orders.
As for Target, since I cannot either contact them by phone or through the website, I will send an old fashioned postal letter directing them to cancel the debit card. If I shop at Target in the future, I will use cash or pay by check. No more debit or credit cards (except when ordering online) for use there. I may never go back since I can get most of what I need elsewhere (they do have some good prices on groceries compared to the other stores in the area). But I likely will not go back. They way they handled this was to say oops, sorry, and good luck to you! The fact their customer service and certain areas of their website was unreachable is the clincher. So in this age of tech savvy crooks and con artists, places like Target ought to have been more on the ball. This is not inconsequential as it involves peoples credit card and debit card information that thieves will be sure to use. No doubt lawsuits are pending. In the end the consumer must watch over their information because places like Target are sometimes unable to do so when clever crooks break the system and win the jackpot.
Clive Palmer’s dinosaur theme park opened on Saturday on the grounds of Palmer Coolum Resort in Queensland, Australia. There are 160 dinosaurs and some are animatronic to give that bit scare to those walking by. Palmer, who is building Titanic II claims not to know how much it cost saying his wife counts the money. While that seems like a stretch, Palmer is going to make money from it. The cost to attend is AUS$100 or $89US for a family of four. No word if they are selling Jurassic Park themed products in a gift shop.
The song White Christmas (Irving Berlin) was made popular by Bing Crosby in part by the movie Holiday Inn(1942). Initially the song was not that popular but during World War 11 it gained popularity with troops away from home. The simple lyrics resonated so strongly it became one of the most requested songs from the troops. Bing Crosby initially thought the song was just a song and did not know its lasting importance.
Crosby’s rendition and the many others that follow use the same formula but add various bells and whistles to make it their own. Crosby’s rendition remains the most popular but in 1957 Elvis Presley recorded his own version for his own Christmas album. His version departs from the standard version in terms of tempo and how it is sung. So much that it bothered Irving Berlin (who wrote the lyrics) and pressure was put on radio stations to not play it. And it disappeared from the airwaves and was rarely heard since. Until recently when the Elvis Presley Christmas Album was re-released. I have that cd and it has a lot of great renditions of classic Christmas songs. But here is the official YouTube release of the song so you can judge for yourself whether it is thumbs up, thumbs down, or toss the cd of it into the fire! Warning-this YouTube video does have advertising.
Here is something that caught my eye being a tea drinker. Those of us who like to brew tea the old fashioned way with loose tea (rather than that awful stuff in most flow through bags) often use an infuser. So some crafty person thought that it would be nifty and novel to make one look like a famous ship of old. So was born the idea of a Titanic themed tea infuser. Oh boy. Tea infusers are supposed to allow water to steep the tea leaves so the leaves do not get into your tea. This one being shaped like a ship probably will not be making a great cup of tea owing to its size. One of those weird novelties you give someone who likely put its in a trunk in the attic and never seen again.
Bonny Cummins friendship with Titanic survivor Millvina Dean inspired Titanic Hidden Histories which includes Titanic art, film, and animations and original music composed by Josh Cummins. On 15 December, Bonny will hold a screening and conversation of her zoetrope animations, original music, and showing her special Titanic collectibles. Further information is at The Shipwreck Museum.
I got a tip recently that there are Titanic Christmas stockings out there. So I clicked away and found this: Not bad and in better taste than those “Titanic Swim Team” shirts out there. There are variations on this out there but it is a great gift for that Titanic enthusiast you know. This one is available at cafepress.com and other places on the web.
1. Titanic Sam, 89, Becomes Internet Sensation (10 Dec 2013,Burton Mail) An 89-year-old man who spent four years creating a model of the doomed Titanic has become an internet sensation after his story was picked up by a multi-million pound visitor attraction in Northern Ireland.Titanic Belfast is located right beside the historic site of the world famous ship’s construction, and its social media pages have carried the Mail’s story on Castle Gresley’s Sam Orgill’s and his 3ft version of the ship. Since then, the Mail’s story on its Facebook site alone has been liked by more than 1,000 people all over the world, it has been shared more than 80 times and has attracted more than 60 comments from users wishing him well.
2. Proposed Floating City Would Hold 100,000(9 Dec 2013,Atlanta Journal Constitution) It might be the next logical step from taking a trip on a cruise liner — Freedom Ship would be a floating city for the super-rich. At least, if it ever gets built. Renewed plans for the massive floating platform were revealed last week. Its creators say it would hold 100,000 people, half of them residents, plus a mall, schools, cinemas, etc. The ship would circumnavigate the globe every two years, docking at cities about 70 percent of the time and on the move the other 30. At almost 1 mile long, it would be four times larger than the current biggest ship and would make the Titanic look like a rowboat. And for its residents, Freedom Ship would boast one distinct advantage. “It’s unclear how taxes would work for people there, but they said it will not be registered in the United States, so Uncle Sam would not be able to reach you on that boat.”