Let's talk about the government snooping thing

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Spacers's picture
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Let's talk about the government snooping thing

Is it possible to protect your privacy? | Hot Topics | an SFGate.com blog

This blog from the S.F. Chronicle has links to lots of stories about how Americans are being watched more than ever, information about how we have all handed over elements of our personal privacy that just a few years ago were taken for granted, and a few ideas about ways we might take some of it back.

Discuss. I'm off to soccer practice but will be back later to add my own comments.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

I'm not outraged (In fact, I feel for the person who has to look through my phone calls and texts).....but yes, this is an example of wild hypocrisy on part of Obama and his administration. Bush started it, for shiz, but this is egregious. Again, I have nothing to hide and I don't personally feel outraged, but it is funny,

SID081108's picture
Joined: 06/03/09
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I can't get worked up about it. I'm not a very private person...I would pretty much let any one of my friends (or my husband, of course) open up my personal email and read it if they cared. I don't air my "dirty laundry" on FB, email, or any other method of technology in general. I mean if they were taking my texts and posting them on CNN for the world to read, of course I wouldn't be happy about that, but I don't think anyone is particularly interested in reading anything I have to write. (probably on here as well, ha ha) I agree with this part of the article you posted:

That’s the nature of data-mining: You collect reams of information, most of it goes unused and the anomalies get put under the microscope for the putative aim of fighting terrorism, as President Obama reminded us in a defensive speech delivered in San Jose today.

Joined: 03/08/03
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I agree with Melissa, but I don't find any of it surprising in the least. You can't be on the web, be using your phone, etc., and have any expectation of true privacy. I don't actually do anything that would be of interest to anybody in that sense, so I don't worry about it for my own personal sake, but obviously if you are going to engage in communication in ways other than verbal & in person, if you're going to buy things with cards instead of cash, have a bank account, use the web, have a cell phone, etc. then you are exposing yourself.

We live in a culture in which people voluntarily give up mountains of information about themselves in social media, and think they have some sort of control there, which of course they do not.

I know people who avoid any sort of loyalty programs with companies or using credit cards because they know all of that information is being tracked. Of course it is. It all is.

SID081108's picture
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"freddieflounder101" wrote:

I know people who avoid any sort of loyalty programs with companies or using credit cards because they know all of that information is being tracked. Of course it is. It all is.

I just don't get this mindset. If Kroger, or Walgreens, or whomever, wants to see what I buy...more power to them. Yes, it is annoying that you need to have a card to get the price that the product should be in the first place, but that's the way they get their data. And with a husband who is a statistician in the marketing field, it just makes sense to me that this type of data is used primarily for marketing purposes. I just can't comprehend being so private that I would go to those measures so that a company won't know what I buy. What's the point?

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"SID081108" wrote:

I just don't get this mindset. If Kroger, or Walgreens, or whomever, wants to see what I buy...more power to them. Yes, it is annoying that you need to have a card to get the price that the product should be in the first place, but that's the way they get their data. And with a husband who is a statistician in the marketing field, it just makes sense to me that this type of data is used primarily for marketing purposes. I just can't comprehend being so private that I would go to those measures so that a company won't know what I buy. What's the point?

Well I think it's a matter of principle. And I get it. I don't care that much, myself, but I can understand not wanting to be tracked that way.

GloriaInTX's picture
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"freddieflounder101" wrote:

Well I think it's a matter of principle. And I get it. I don't care that much, myself, but I can understand not wanting to be tracked that way.

I HATE those grocery cards. It wasn't a matter of being tracked, it was a matter of having to carry a thousand cards to have a card for each store that I go into. And they would jack the prices up so if you didn't have their reward card you actually had to pay extra.

Joined: 05/31/06
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I actually love the grocery cards. At the store that we shop at the most I have a key tag on my key ring, but don't even have to use that, I can just enter my phone number. They have a gas points rewards program, so I get money off my gas at this gas station that they have a relationship with right nearby ~ because I spend so much on groceries I end up getting like .80 off my gas most times I fill up, a HUGE savings when you drive a car as huge as mine. Its made me shop exclusively at that store as the rewards are so great.

At all of the stores in my area though if you say you don't have your card they just enter the store card, so its not like you have to have a personal one to still get the discounts, are they not that way where you guys live?

I can't even fathom not using credit cards. We get SO MUCH free stuff (vacations, flights, hotels etc) because of our credit cards. It would be like throwing away money out of paranoia. Literally, I just don't get it. I can't even fathom how it would work. How would you book a flight?

Joined: 03/08/03
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Our local grocery store card doesn't give you discounts, but after a certain amount of purchases you get $5 off. Other ones we have give you discounts, which are pretty good deals. The gas thing doesn't do much for me as I almost never drive.

The only people I know who almost never use credit cards are my in-laws, who don't buy flights. She doesn't fly. (I actually know a handful of people who NEVER fly, it boggles my mind!)

I tend to prefer cards to cash just so I don't have to carry around a lot of cash, plus if you lose a card, you cancel it and get your money back. If you lose cash, you're out of luck.

But I do get it....I get not wanting to be part of the machine.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

I can books flights with my debit card, I order things online with it, rent a car with it. I've never in my life needed a credit card. I'd personally rather that everyone just pay lower prices to begin with, rather than have some people get things for free because they use those cards enough, and I'd rather not have people racking up bills they can't pay and then declaring bankruptcy which means that all of us pick it up, too. That's what I don't get. With the exceptions of big things like cars & houses, if you don't have the money, don't buy it. Although after the fiasco I went through needing to finance a car last year, now that I've bumped my credit score up by making car payments every month, I'm more interested in maintaining my credit score. I never realized that "zero credit" was worse than bad credit!

I do most of my grocery shopping at Trader Joe's but there are things I do have to get at Lucky because TJ's doesn't carry things like the food the cat will eat, diapers, zipper baggies, or Best Foods mayo, so I do use the rewards card when I shop there. I just key in the fake phone number I use for all rewards programs. I do have to swipe the card when I buy gasoline, but none of the other rewards programs needs a card at all.

Also, I love using my debit card because I can keep better track of where our money goes. One month DH made $800 in cash withdrawals and had receipts for only $125 of it, so I started making him use his debit card more, too. And if the government find something suspicious in our shopping patterns, then they'll look more closely and see that we're not a problem, and move on to the next suspicious thing, and hopefully catch the next terrorist before they accomplish their goal.

AlyssaEimers's picture
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Carrie - I am interested in everything everyone on here has to say Smile

As for Credit Cards, I do know a few people that struggle with debt that once they paid off their CC debt, the refused to get another CC. I think if you know that is a weakness for you, then it is better not to have one. We use CC's all the time, but only if we have the money to pay the balance off in full when the bill comes due.

AlyssaEimers's picture
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DP

Joined: 05/31/06
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Debit cards are the equivalent of credit cards from a trackability or footprint perspective, though. You just aren't getting any rewards.

Joined: 03/08/03
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Agreed. I love the debit card purchasing because it saves me a step of paying the bill later, but it's just as trackable and often reads like a credit card to the vendor anyway.

It's all spying of one sort or another, whether for capitalist purposes or otherwise.

Spacers's picture
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"Potter75" wrote:

Debit cards are the equivalent of credit cards from a trackability or footprint perspective, though. You just aren't getting any rewards.

Agreed. I simply don't care enough about getting "rewards" to get a credit card; it seems like poor people subsidizing the rich. I don't fly much, mostly because it's too expensive, so when I have to fly somewhere, I'm paying a premium which subsidizes your "free" things that you get because you're rich enough to fly more often. And the point to which I was responding was your saying that you can't fathom how someone lives without a credit card. My answer is that it's quite easy.

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"Spacers" wrote:

Agreed. I simply don't care enough about getting "rewards" to get a credit card; it seems like poor people subsidizing the rich. I don't fly much, mostly because it's too expensive, so when I have to fly somewhere, I'm paying a premium which subsidizes your "free" things that you get because you're rich enough to fly more often. And the point to which I was responding was your saying that you can't fathom how someone lives without a credit card. My answer is that it's quite easy.

But you don't have to fly to get those points. We get points on our cards for every purchase we make. I've gotten free flights, my husband bought us our Wii with points, etc.

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"Spacers" wrote:

Agreed. I simply don't care enough about getting "rewards" to get a credit card; it seems like poor people subsidizing the rich. I don't fly much, mostly because it's too expensive, so when I have to fly somewhere, I'm paying a premium which subsidizes your "free" things that you get because you're rich enough to fly more often. And the point to which I was responding was your saying that you can't fathom how someone lives without a credit card. My answer is that it's quite easy.

I was responding to Laurie talking about the paranoid people who refuse to be tracked via credit. As you acknowledged, debit and credit are the exact same from that perspective, so when I say that I can't fathom how someone lives without a credit card, I would mean credit or debit as they are equally trackable.

My husband or I literally would not be hireable if we refused to have a credit or debit card. We could not book flights, pay for client dinners, get reimbursement etc.

I don't see it as a rich or poor thing, its just about how people choose to use points or rewards. Putting all of ones monthly expenses on a credit card vs a debit card adds up. And I disagree that using debit makes purchasing easier to track. In fact, our credit card automatically tracks our spending, even graphing it into categories for us. Incredibly useful from a budgeting perspective.

ETA: The bolded is a pretty rude statement, Stacey, I didn't really notice it before. My husband flies all the time for work. He stays in hotels 60 nights a year. You may not "care" about getting a free weeks vacation for a family of 5 as a result of those things, but my family sure does. We aren't "rich" enough to throw away a benefit like 7 nights at a 5 star hotel and free flights for 5 because we prefer to use credit over debit when they cost us the SAME since we pay off our credit bill monthly. And if you pay a premium its because you don't have the discipline to pay off your credit card monthly or aren't smart enough to get a credit card that doesn't charge an annual fee. My "free" things don't cost you anything.

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We are big on the grocery card / gas rewards too! Love them!! Most of the other stores' reward programs here are associated with your home phone # which is convenient for us.

I do admit to finding it a bit strange to have received an email from a business that I KNOW I never signed up with promoting "products they thought I'd be interested in." We had recently made a one time purchase there using a debit card -- but again NEVER gave them any other information. The products in the email were related to that particular purchase. It just felt odd to receive that type of marketing out of the blue.

I do believe that we have relinquished more of our privacy than I would like. Granted - I'm in the process of rereading Orwell's "1984" with one of our kids. LOL

As this issue relates to the government what I find most disconcerting are the levels of secrecy. I think there was a comment on the article which pointed out the irony in the lack of transparency of *public* officials in regards to the rights of *private* citizens. (FTR - I view this as an issue that has been chipped away at for decades but feels as if it has been escalated on a fast track.)

SID081108's picture
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Yep, gas rewards here too! And, also have never had someone not let me use the store rewards card (or the card of the person behind me) if I'm in an unfamiliar store...for example, when travelling. Plus, you can get one at most stores without even filling out the program card....they expect that you will fill it out and return it if you continue to shop there. The stores mainly use these programs for data mining....to know who is shopping, how often, and what they are buying. Sure, they jack up the prices and then drop them back down with the card, but I don't believe their primary objective with a loyalty card is to price gouge the people who don't have one. Not to mention, I'll use a card any day over shopping at Walmart! (please, don't get me started again, lol)

And, we specifically pick our credit cards based on the rewards (some give more cash back for restaurants, some give more for gas, etc). We have 1 credit card that we use the most, whose cash back reward almost funds our vacation each year. We have never paid a cent of interest on that card, or an annual fee. I disagree that this is the poor funding the rich....the irresponsible funding the responsible is more like it. If I can responsibly use a card to get rewards, I see absolutely no reason not to. Credit cards aren't going to go away, since my family can use them responsibly I don't see the point in refusing to get the rewards because they are potentially provided on the backs of people who have wracked up things they can't pay for and then pay high interest because they have a bad credit score. I do get that there are sometimes unavoidable circumstances for using credit (layoff, medical bills, etc) but I'm pretty sure the majority of the people that "fund" my rewards are those that use credit irresponsibly.

To Melissa's point, I am also essentially unemployable in my field without a credit card. Very few companies provide company cards these days....expense and reimburse is the way the corporate world works, for the most part, and I don't keep the cushion in my savings to fund a $3,000+ conference, health fair, etc until I get reimbursed.

Lastly (am I a secret credit card spokesperson???), some cards, such as American Express, provide additional warranties, etc when you pay with their card for large ticket items...and MUCH easier and more convenient to get fraud cleared up on a credit card then on your debit card when it has come straight out of your checking account. DH and I actually have a policy to never use our debit card for online purchases.

I will take all of this, and the government is free to track my purchases. Biggrin I still don't "get it".

SID081108's picture
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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

Carrie - I am interested in everything everyone on here has to say Smile

ha ha thank you! It took me a minute to figure out what you were referring to Blum 3

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I agree about American Express! Any big ticket items we need, I use my AmEx for....that gives me a lot more protection if something happens.

GloriaInTX's picture
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I just recently got a CC from the bank that has my mortgage, they offered me a CC which I got 3% cash back directly on my mortgage principle, plus no interest for the first year. They gave me a $3000 limit and we were just about to spend $5000 on a new AC unit for our house so it was almost a no brainer.
I have a Walmart CC that I use for nothing except for gas because they are giving 15 cents off per gallon at Walmart's gas station if you use a Walmart card. They are pretty easy to find down here so it saves me quite a bit.
My debit card can be used as debit or credit so when I am making an online purchase I make sure and use it as credit for the extra protections.

Spacers's picture
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"Potter75" wrote:

ETA: The bolded is a pretty rude statement, Stacey, I didn't really notice it before. My husband flies all the time for work. He stays in hotels 60 nights a year. You may not "care" about getting a free weeks vacation for a family of 5 as a result of those things, but my family sure does. We aren't "rich" enough to throw away a benefit like 7 nights at a 5 star hotel and free flights for 5 because we prefer to use credit over debit when they cost us the SAME since we pay off our credit bill monthly. And if you pay a premium its because you don't have the discipline to pay off your credit card monthly or aren't smart enough to get a credit card that doesn't charge an annual fee. My "free" things don't cost you anything.

Your "free" things absolutely do have a cost to others. The airlines and the hotels bump up their prices for everyone to cover the "free" things they provide to their reward customers. Your DH's company bumps up its fees for everyone to cover his flights and his 60 nights in 5-star hotels. And the clients of your DH's company bump up their prices for everyone to cover their bills. I'm really surprised that you don't see it that way.

GloriaInTX's picture
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"Spacers" wrote:

Your "free" things absolutely do have a cost to others. The airlines and the hotels bump up their prices for everyone to cover the "free" things they provide to their reward customers. Your DH's company bumps up its fees for everyone to cover his flights and his 60 nights in 5-star hotels. And the clients of your DH's company bump up their prices for everyone to cover their bills. I'm really surprised that you don't see it that way.

So when a store puts something on sale do you go in and say "no I want to pay full price" ? Because it is essentially the same thing. They are going to jack up the price of something else to cover the cost of selling another item at a discount.

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"Spacers" wrote:

Your "free" things absolutely do have a cost to others. The airlines and the hotels bump up their prices for everyone to cover the "free" things they provide to their reward customers. Your DH's company bumps up its fees for everyone to cover his flights and his 60 nights in 5-star hotels. And the clients of your DH's company bump up their prices for everyone to cover their bills. I'm really surprised that you don't see it that way.

I thought you were talking about using credit vs. cash. Are you now talking about work travel? Are you arguing that because my husband has to travel to see clients that his company passes along price increases in product to the government (the client, in his case). I'm confused. I could argue just as easily that if people like him were not flying 120 times a year and giving the airlines revenue the costs of travel to people like you who travel infrequently would be even higher. If people like him were not occupying hotels 60 nights a year the costs to people like you when you wanted a room would be even higher. I guess I don't understand what you are really arguing.

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"GloriaInTX" wrote:

So when a store puts something on sale do you go in and say "no I want to pay full price" ? Because it is essentially the same thing. They are going to jack up the price of something else to cover the cost of selling another item at a discount.

Exactly.

I'm taking the kids, and a friend, to a county fair tomorrow. I bought the carnival passes in an online pre-sale & saved $10 each.

It would be like me saying "because you are rich enough to have the internet and take advantage of other people NOT having it you drive up the price for everyone else"......it just doesn't make sense.

mom3girls's picture
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Love my gas rewards for the money I would spend on groceries anyways! Last year before a road trip I ended up with almost 60 cents a gallon off, it was awesome!

We tried the rewards credit cards for a while, we just didnt see enough rewards for it to really matter, so we went back to a debit card. Maybe I should look into a rewards card again?

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
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Well I guess the AP doesn't take too kindly to being spied on. The press love affair with Obama might just finally be over. They didn't have too many nice things to say about this latest government spying.

Column: Mounting controversies are all about trust

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I was feeling guilty for steering this towards credit cards so thanks Gloria for getting us back on track!

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I want to come back and respond more later -- but I think that I have to recover from finding Melis agreeing with something GLORIA posted!! :shock: LOL

"GloriaInTX" wrote:

Well I guess the AP doesn't take too kindly to being spied on. The press love affair with Obama might just finally be over. They didn't have too many nice things to say about this latest government spying.

Column: Mounting controversies are all about trust

Gloria, I agree with Laurie. Thanks for steering back on track!

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

Hey as of very recently GLoria and I were in the same political party. We agree on most fiscal issues. We just disagree on most social issues Smile We even voted for the same guy in the last election, despite my social leanings!