Bank bashing is a great Australian tradition. Consider "Lawsie" (John Laws, Sydney radio shock jock), who would bash them mercilessly, day-in, day-out. Whenever the Big Bank Bastards were screwing their poor little Aussie battler victims, "Lawsie" was there to expose them. He would devote a lot of airtime to stories about excessive fees, shonky loan practices, shady deals, etc ... especially when it involved those Big Bank Bastards (BBBs).
Little did we know that "Lawsie" was conducting secret negotiations with the BBBs. If they would just cough up a sizable donation to supplement his meager salary, he would lay-off.
But that is another story entirely (interested readers should google for "John Laws cash for comments" for more detail) . The thing is his audience lapped up all that brutal bank-bashing. When it comes to BBBs every kick is a free kick, even if it is in the shins.
Of course, now that we discover that those fine institutions were gambling away a substantial part of our money with complex financial instruments that nobody (least of all them) really understood, and that they now use as a pretext for raising interest rates even faster than the Reserve Bank and will no doubt use as a pretext for increasing charges even more in the coming year, does nothing to improve their reputation.
It seems that many of the problems of global finance are due to the fact that the sector that has been given responsibility for creating something (money) are also directly involved in the distribution and trade in that product. Of course the finance sector argue that what they do is so special and they are all such outstanding upright honest folks that we can of course trust them to do the right thing. But that is getting beyond the scope of this little blog.
Which tonight is on the recurring theme of Internet Security. As has often been stated in this blog. The security system of the Internet is seriously flawed. This is due to a combination of dumbed down software (and one Software manufacturer is particularly remiss in this area) and poor systems design by financial institutions. Most security holes arise because whenever there is a choice to be made, commercial profit is placed well ahead of security. Of course some of them arise because of sloppy programming and non-existent quality control. But if any of these large corporations should be taken to task, they would they would reply in weasel-speak, with words like personal computer security is your responsibility.
The other day I received an email from my bank. Telling me that my account had been pre-approved for such and such an amount of credit. Since I was such a valued customer, it was going to be low interest rates, blah, blah. I was almost going to file it in the spam folder. When I looked closer and discovered that it was genuine.
Now in all fairness to my bank, I have to say that they have recently made some substantial improvements to their Internet Security. I was mightily impressed with many of these improvements, which would make it difficult for a fraudster to embezzle funds from a victim's account even if they (the scammer) did discover the login details. Plus they (the bank) fixed up their web site so that it works perfectly with Firefox.
But just when I was about to say something complimentary (without even asking for a small donation) about them they pull a marketing stunt like this. Of course it was only a marketing blurb but it was unnecessary. And I'd much rather that they paid interest on my deposits (like all banks used to) rather than offer me credit.
And yes, I think it is a good feature to email details when a new billing entity has been added to Bpay.
But why send advertising to a customer's email address?
Probably the same reason, that when you go to a branch, (if you can still find one), the teller now tries to sell you insurance or some financial product. What happened to tellers that just did your banking and said "have a nice day"? Why are they now being trained as sales people?
Sending such emails only gives scammers more ammunition. A phishing scammer doesn't even have to be clever or fluent in English (most of them weren't -- but nowdays they seem to be improving rapidly). The bank has already done all the work for them. All they (the scammer) need do is copy the text and add the URLs. (e.g. add a link and the phrase "click on this link etc").
All of which undermines public confidence further. Some of them are cowering behind their consoles, afraid to even open emails.
And is it any wonder?