Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Subconscious Mind--Consumer Brainwashing and Identity Theft--What's In Your Court File

This is actually a repost of something I wrote several years ago, with the court file addition. It still stands true today.

The Subconscious Mind—Consumer Brainwashing and Identity Theft—What’s In Your Court File

I very rarely watch TV any more. The reality shows, which do not depict my reality, have truly turned me off—as well as my TV. However, last night I was tired and did watch CSI. I was first amused by the new VISA commercial—a line of people waiting to check out—everything stops—a customer is paying with cash.

The message here is if you use cash you’re slowing down everything for everyone. Use your credit card and keep life and the checkout lines moving.

A curious person, and one who has studied subliminal messaging as well as the subconscious and conscious mind, this started me thinking. How long have we been hearing this message? When did paying in cash become unacceptable and why?

Thinking back I remember other commercials about carrying cash—you’ll be robbed! It’s harder to track where you money went! And many other subtle messages that encourage and scare us into using plastic. Especially credit card plastic.

When did massive cases of identity theft kick in? Well, I haven’t totally researched this, but it was in this period of “Don’t Use Cash”.

Using credit, debit and other methods of paying does one other thing—it allows companies to track what YOU purchase. Where you purchase and how much you’re willing to spend. With all of this information available at the click of a button it allows someone to step into your shoes, your life, and be you with ease and comfort.

I don’t carry cash often. I use checks. In 1999 I was sued for a credit card I did not owe. It took me over four years for the courts to declare me innocent of that “crime”. In 2007 my son was sued for a credit card he did not owe. It took only six months to have that one tossed out of court. And no, neither of these cases involved identity theft, just some shady characters out to make some money.

Writing checks does slow down lines, so I now carry cash. Not a lot of cash, but enough to purchase what I want to purchase at any given time. I don’t like being brainwashed. I don’t like to think that someone somewhere is watching me, noting every purchase I make, when and where. This of course takes and extra step for me as I have to go by the bank to cash a check prior to having cash to spend, but it preserves just a little of my privacy. As to being robbed? People are using cell phones to take pictures of credit cards in lines—that’s robbery. So I don’t think I’m any more susceptible to being robbed with cash than I am with credit and debit cards.

Another area of concern for consumers is court files. Many people don’t realize that court records are open records unless sealed by the court. Therefore, any information given during a lawsuit is fair game to anyone who wants to take the time to peruse your file. In recent years states have been combating this by requiring that personal information be redacted from the file. Most court reporters and attorneys are aware of this, and some of us, myself included, go the extra step in protection of the witness by asking to redact or seal certain information contained in personal documents. Especially medical records. Almost every sheet of medical records contains your birth date and social security number as well as your name and address. So if you’re involved in a lawsuit, make sure you talk with your attorney about identity protection, and make sure your medical records are redacted to remove personal identifiers. An ounce of protection can lead to a cure.

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