Dealing with Identity Theft

by Kieran Healy on May 18, 2006

Wil Shipley, who writes the excellent “Delicious Monster”: (BibTeX export and nice integration with “LibraryThing”: in the next version, please please please) had his identity stolen recently. The story is the by-now standard one of “frustration and anger”:, and is as yet unresolved. As Kevin Drum “has been saying”: for some time, the law in this area is basically broken: the companies need to be responsible for fradulent accounts, just as banks and not customers are responsible if money gets robbed from the local branch’s safe.

Wil’s case is typical. He’s absorbing all the costs of getting his money back out of a frozen E-Trade account, because E-Trade could care less and has no incentive to bother helping him out. Until the law is changed, of course, Wil still has to deal with this himself. One of his commenters makes the following interesting suggestion about dealing with the company over the phone:

bq. Even more important, never hang up. Most call center personel are expressly forbidden from hanging up on you. Simply stay on the line until they think of a new solution.

Sounds plausible. My brother runs a call center that handles the North American traffic for a financial services company. I’ll have to ask him whether this is true. Howie Becker tells a similar story about dealing with recalcitrant call center staff. He had learned from a relative that, at his airline, difficult-to-manage customers were labeled “irates.” First the representative would try to fix the problem, but if the caller persisted they would get bumped up to a supervisor. The representative would tell the supervisor, “I have an irate here”, short for “irate customer.” Becker decides he might as well cut straight to the supervisor, so he calls the airline and says “Hi, I’m Howie Becker and I am an irate. Can you help me with this ticket?” The representative sputters, “How did you know that word?!”


by Kieran Healy on May 18, 2006

I would like some “Koranic Tuna”: with my “BVM Toast”:, thanks. If I could talk Krishna into manifesting himself in some wasabi, lunch might get taken care of.

ACTA Report

by Kieran Healy on May 18, 2006

Tim Burke “reads through”: the “ACTA”: report, “‘How Many Ward Churchills'”:, which — so far as I can see from skimming it — makes very strong claims (“Ward Churchill is Everywhere”; “professors are using their classrooms to push political agendas in the name of teaching students to think critically”) mainly on the basis of inferences from course descriptions that they’ve found on the web. ( Naturally, they find some doozies. Big deal. College is full of funny people with weird ideas, haven’t you heard?) There’s little effort on the part of the report to ascertain whether the course descriptions they’ve found are representative, or to quantify what proportion of courses they constitute, or assess whether there’s been any change over time. Moreover, the report obviously can’t address how the material they find so objectionable is actually covered in classrooms. Worst of all, ACTA blithely claim that “professors like Churchill are systematically promoted by colleges and universities across the country at the expense of academic standards and integrity.” The University of Colorado’s “investigation into Churchill’s work”:, unanimously found evidence of fabrication, falsification and plagiarism. It seems that ACTA are happy to insinuate that if a faculty member has political views ACTA dislikes, then their work may be fraudulent and they have probably been promoted with little regard for academic standards. That’s quite a smear.

None of this stops ACTA from “claiming”: the report is “documenting in exhaustive detail the kinds of course offerings that are becoming increasingly representative of today’s college curriculum.” Last time I checked, “exhaustive” was not a synonym for “impressionistic”, but who knows what they’re teaching conservative kids at home these days? Tim “has more detailed criticism”: The bottom line is that this seems like one more iteration of the symbiotic relationship between organizations like ACTA and the likes of Ward Churchill. Those guys need each other.

For the sake of it, “here’s the syllabus”: for my undergraduate course on classical sociological theory. Oh no! Marx! And a French guy!