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Bank Goofs, and Judge Orders Gmail Account Nuked 594

Posted by kdawson
from the oops-our-bad dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Rocky Mountain Bank, based in Wyoming, accidentally sent confidential financial information to the wrong Gmail account. When Google refused to identify the innocent account owner's information, citing its privacy policy, the bank filed in Federal court to have the account deactivated and the user's information revealed. District Judge James Ware granted the bank's request, with the result that the user has had his email access cut off without any wrongdoing or knowledge of why." The Reg's earlier story says, "Rocky Mountain Bank had asked to court to keep its suit under seal, hoping to avoid panic among its customers and a 'surge of inquiry.' But obviously, this wasn't successful."
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Bank Goofs, and Judge Orders Gmail Account Nuked

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  • G-Mail? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SeaFox (739806) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @05:49PM (#29550763)

    Why is the bank sending sensitive customer information to an email account hosted by a provider known for rifling though it's user's emails for information?

  • Sooo hang on... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 26, 2009 @05:49PM (#29550767)

    ...if a judge in, say, Korea granted the same request to have a gmail account blocked, an innocent user in, say, Germany would loose his email...even if that email contained confidental and critical information to be used by its owner...this is quite pathetic and something should be put in place to stop these low level distric judges making decisions that could affect users across the globe.

  • IMAP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pushing-robot (1037830) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @05:53PM (#29550807)

    At least Google offers free POP and IMAP access, so it's trivial to back up your email locally. I'd still be pissed if something like this happened to me, but Google isn't to blame.

  • by BitterOak (537666) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @05:59PM (#29550855)
    Wouldn't this be like having a package wrongly delivered to your house (through no fault of your own: the sender had the wrong address), and since it contained highly confidential information, a judge ordered your house to be burned to the ground? (Okay, that's a bit extreme, but you get my point.)
  • Re:G-Mail? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @06:01PM (#29550883) Journal

    why is the bank sending customer information through email at all? why is the bank not encrypting all sensitive customer data? answer: because they haven't been forced to do so. Everyone whose information was leaked to this account should sue them right into the ground. It's been far too long that banks carry little responsibility for other peoples' data and it's time they start.

  • Re:G-Mail? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mwvdlee (775178) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @06:02PM (#29550889) Homepage

    Why is the bank sending sensitive customer information to an email account?

    e-mail is an insecure protocol and they shouldn't be sending such data over SMTP even if the recipient address were correct.

  • Re:IMAP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Naturalis Philosopho (1160697) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @06:03PM (#29550909)
    You're right Google isn't to blame in this case. Not given the fact that the judge could have told the bank to suck it up, transfer the account to new numbers, and pay a fine to their customer for failing to live up to their security responsibilities. Instead he decided to punish the innocent people in this case. The bank screwed up, the bank should be held accountable. Anything less is yet another miscarriage of justice.
  • Re:Spam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BitterOak (537666) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @06:07PM (#29550951)

    If I get e-mails from banks that I have no relation with, it is usually spam and gets instantly deleted.

    Perhaps that's why the recipient of the bank's private data didn't respond to any of their e-mails.

    Or maybe the mailbox holder was simply on vacation? Is there a legal obligation to check your inbox on a regular basis? (There's a reason legal papers aren't sent by e-mail.)

  • Why deactivated? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FrozenGeek (1219968) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @06:12PM (#29551015)
    The bank requested the user's identity. Google refused to provide it. So then the bank goes to court not only to get the user's identity but to deactivate the user's account. I'm missing the logic. Okay, maybe the bank fears that enough time has passed that the user has seen the errant email and wants to prevent the user from misusing the information. Now, that might work if the user does not have a local copy of the email. On the other hand, if the user has a local copy and is now angry at the bank for having had their gmail account shut down, the user, who might otherwise have done nothing, now has both the means and the motive to do something. Good move. Wouldn't it have been possible for Google to contact the gmail user and ask him to delete any local copies? And Google, presumably, could have deleted the email from its own servers. I like Google's policy of protecting user identities. But this whole mess sounds like two bureaucrats blindly following policy to the detriment of the end-users. Can't anyone think anymore?
  • Re:G-Mail? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 26, 2009 @06:15PM (#29551037)

    TFA says "A bank employee attempted to do so. But a day later, he realized he had sent the documents to the wrong address - along with a file containing confidential information for 1,325 other customers."

    So had the bank not fucked up, the user would have gotten someone else's loan documents. So far, so good. At worst, one account needs to be moved. But the bank employee sent 1300+ accounts to that email also, making it a breach of security.

    Why should the email user get penalized for the bank's screw-up? What if the bank had left printouts with that info lying on their doorstep - would it be fair for the bank to close down all roads to prevent someone from getting that printout?

    How far should the law allow a corporation to shut down a real person's life to correct the corporation's error?

  • by similar_name (1164087) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @06:18PM (#29551061)

    Also having a moment of gratitude that I don't use gmail.

    What email do you use that would disobey a judge's order?

  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @06:24PM (#29551077)
    His own server, perhaps?
  • by alex_guy_CA (748887) <.moc.tdlefneohcs. .ta. .xela.> on Saturday September 26, 2009 @06:25PM (#29551081) Homepage
    My email is on my own computer. My ISP could delete my account, but not erase my old emails.
  • Re:G-Mail? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by easyTree (1042254) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @06:41PM (#29551203)

    "Due diligence" means "cover your ass", and has NO OTHER MEANING in the banking community.

    Surely that doesn't need to be explicitly stated - after all this is the industry that has destroyed millions of family's lives whilst receiving payouts from governments and still paying their people massive bonuses. I guess they have the cream of the crop though, when it comes to staff skilled in screwing-over the ordinary person.

  • Re:G-Mail? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by easyTree (1042254) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @06:42PM (#29551207)

    uhh, families' *

  • Re:IMAP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by easyTree (1042254) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @06:49PM (#29551263)

    Perhaps you've not realised yet but banks aren't held responsible for their actions....

  • I wonder (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bolt_the_dhampir (1545719) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @06:49PM (#29551271)
    I run my email on my own email server... In my house. What would they have done if they accidentally sent the email to me?
  • by houstonbofh (602064) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @07:03PM (#29551351)

    Google should have fought back against this.

    They did. They could have just shut off the account. This is a problem with a judge, and I will backfire badly.

  • Re:G-Mail? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tony Hoyle (11698) <tmh@nodomain.org> on Saturday September 26, 2009 @07:09PM (#29551407) Homepage

    The idea that that kind of information can even be extracted from the system without a damned good reason and permission signed from the VP in triplicate scares me - are banks *really* that insecure that they let any dumb fuck with a gmail account extract the customer list and mail it to someone? Apparently they are..

  • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @07:11PM (#29551421)

    "All the time?"

    How many times has that happened? Once that I know of. In a country of 300+ million people, with police forces of questionable capability, I think that's pretty good myself.

    Was it unjust? Of course. But "all the time" is simply being alarmist.

  • Re:IMAP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LordNimon (85072) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @07:13PM (#29551443)
    but if a bank suddenly sent me 1,300 account's financial information, and then sent me an email telling me not to open it,

    How would you feel if both of these emails ended up in your spam folder? You would not have noticed anything at all, but then suddenly, your account would be gone.
  • Re:G-Mail? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Beezlebub33 (1220368) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @07:15PM (#29551455)
    When the families are told by the bank that they will be able to repay the loan and are given very low initial rate, AND the bank knows they will not be able to pay it back, AND the bank knows they will bundle it up the mortgage and sell it off, AND regulators that actually promote this THEN you have banks that are evil, greedy bastards, and you have families that are stupid, and a government that is incompetent, greedy, and stupid.

    No, it's not his world view that's fucked up, it's the world.
  • Re:IMAP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pieroxy (222434) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @07:26PM (#29551529) Homepage

    Yes, someone has the problem of their account being deactivated. This sucks. But, imagine, for one moment, had the opposite happened. Say, for instance, the judge ordered to bank to change the numbers of the 1,300 accounts, resulting in 1,300 people having to change their financial information on all documents relating to those accounts. I'm not sure if you've ever had to do this, but it can take months for the changes to finally take hold on everything from direct deposit accounts to credit cards and Paypal accounts. Assuming that everything worked out correctly, that is. Granted, if they were wise, the customers would be doing this now themselves.

    Your point is to say that annoying one person is better than annoying 1300. It may be valid, but for the fact that the person in question didn't do anything wrong, he was just a bystander. Those 1300 people would have been annoyed to hell, and I hope they (some of them at least) would have gone to another bank. This would have been a (albeit small) step in the right direction though. Closing a gmail account is just hiding the horrible truth. Which may not change anything anyways since the gmail account owner may have downloaded the file in question for days.

    As far as the person being innocent, if you read the article, the bank sent an email to this account asking the recipient to destroy the file without opening it. The email account holder did not respond at all.

    Being on vacation equates having a suspicious behavior !!??? Noone has any obligation to read one's email every f***ing day !!!

    I'll stop there. You clearly prefer the workaround instead of having the *stupid* bank assume their very own *stupidity*. As a result they won't be a bit more careful next time, and maybe 1000 gmail accounts are going to be deactivated. Or gmail itself...

  • Re:IMAP (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 26, 2009 @07:27PM (#29551537)

    It doesn't matter whether the email address is deactivated or not -- those people still need to have their information changed. The email was sent out, the data could already be downloaded onto someone's computer. Due diligence in this case requires that they change the accounts. Deleting the email address doesn't fix the problem, especially when you consider the fact that some of us have more than one email address set to just forward to a single inbox, sometimes on a different service.

    The ruling doesn't even make any sense...

  • by Baricom (763970) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @07:27PM (#29551549)

    Here's what Rocky Mountain Bank should have done. (I refuse to allow them to be anonymous because that's clearly what they want, and they should be held responsible for their mistake.)

    1. They should have e-mailed the 1,325 customers that had their data exposed.
    2. They should not have sued Google in an effort to get the e-mail deleted.
    3. They should not have tried to seal records in a lawsuit they filed to fix their mistake.
    4. They should have trained their employees to understand that recalling e-mails doesn't work more often than it does.

    Had they done this, this would not have been international news, and probably not even local news.

  • Re:G-Mail? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by michaelhood (667393) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @07:44PM (#29551657)

    The families who took the money were on the edge of desperation - looking for any way out.

    Say what?

    I could have purchased a home in 2003 on an interest-only mortgage with all the other idiots, but I knew that I wouldn't be able to afford the payments once they included the principal.

    Was I on the edge of desperation because I was *GASP* forced to keep renting?

  • by causality (777677) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @07:57PM (#29551747)

    No. The First Amendment does not entitle you to use any particular medium. It only protects the content of your speech, and even then, there's a lot of content that's still regulated (fraud, libel, obscenity, copyright infringement, etc.).

    Authoritarian types just love arguments like this. That obvious intended meaning is a pesky thing to them, so to deal with it they created the ingenius device of separating the text into two concepts: the "spirit of the law", which they have made into something they can disregard whenever convenient, and the "letter of the law" which they can carefully examine to find any needed loopholes (incidentally, the same tactic was used when "freedom," a holistic concept, was split into "economic freedom" and "personal freedom"). That argument you are making is like a path, and I will give you a perfect example of one of that path's many destinations: free speech zones. The "logic" behind them is that the 1st Amendment guarantees your right to free speech, but does not specify where you may exercise this right. So, the free speech zones are located where the impact of contrary opinions can be most effectively minimized. Result? "Get with our program, or be censored, except we won't call it that."

    Of course, for the free speech zones, they COULD decide that because the Constitution does not specify the specific locations to which the INALIENABLE RIGHTS it enumerates should apply, then obviously any fool can recognize that it's intended to apply throughout every last crumb of American soil. But, that would mean you can't use clever tricks to censor people without having to call it censorship, which is why such a concept is frowned upon by authoritarian types and other would-be tyrants.

    Sure they can. They can sign up for another email account, say from Yahoo or Hotmail, or even another Gmail account. They can post on newsgroups and message boards. They can use the telephone, write a letter, or stand on the street corner with a sign and a megaphone. Just because they can't use one particular email account doesn't mean they're unable to speak.

    Don't kid yourself. Massive injustices usually start out very small. If it's now considered okay to make you suffer in any way, however minor or however great, for the actions of a third party over which you have zero control, then this system is already terminal, we just don't know it yet. The entire concept is diametrically opposed to all of our notions of due process, the right to confront your accuser, the presumption of innocence, you name it. To fully support this ruling without being a hypocrite you would first have to throw out centuries of American tradition and jurisprudence. I for one am not prepared to do that.

    In summary, this is a step in the wrong direction and the fact that a bank might suffer a little inconvenience due to its own damned screw-up is emphatically NOT a worthy reason to support it.

  • Re:Spam (Score:3, Insightful)

    by chrysrobyn (106763) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @07:59PM (#29551763)
    Heck, it could be a gmailfs [wikipedia.org] user. They wouldn't even necessarily know they got the e-mail.
  • Re:My Response (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rockoon (1252108) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @08:04PM (#29551803)
    Those "other victims" as you call them chose to do business with Shitty Bank And Trust.

    This is America. If they don't like how that choice turned out, they can vote with their feet. This decision by this judge only serves to preserve as many customers as possible for the bank, and dare I say that the bank does not have the right to have its customer-base preserved via the judicial system.

    What I'm saying is that I dont care if it was 1 account, 50 accounts, or 1 million accounts. Shitty Bank And Trust does not deserve preservation here. They deserve to lose all the customers directly affected, plus other customers who go unaffected but or now severely concerned about their privacy.
  • Re:IMAP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dangitman (862676) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @08:12PM (#29551861)

    Personally, I don't see this as being a problem. The account holder refused to respond to the bank, which, had they done so, something could have been done to avert their account being deactivated

    Would you respond to an email from some bank you've never heard of talking about highly important account details, rather than just deleting the email immediately? Furthermore, what modern spam filter wouldn't automatically filter out an email claiming to be from "Rocky Mountain Bank" and talking about account details? This is exactly the kind of email that security-conscious users should be avoiding like the plague.

  • Re:Sooo hang on... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by martin-boundary (547041) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @08:14PM (#29551877)
    The answer is to not rely on Google for email.

    There's really no reason why a user in Germany should be relying on webmail from a company in the US, or some other place. The German user has a local ISP who can collect email on his behalf, and this ISP is only bound by German law. Moreover, there's no reason why the ISP should have control over the user's email archive, the user should download his messages and keep them on his own computer under lock and key.

    Problem solved.

  • by Dhalka226 (559740) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @08:23PM (#29551931)

    The better question is this:

    How the hell did the bank even have standing to sue anybody? What wrong was done by anybody but them? How do you file, much less win, a lawsuit seeking to punish somebody who did nothing but receive an email you should never have been sending in the first place? How is it this man's legal responsibility to help them clean up their own fuck up, and how is it Google's legal responsibility to help the bank do so? What statute gives this judge the authority to destroy a third-party-to-a-fuck-up's email account because he didn't see fit to respond to an email he may not have even thought was legitimate? That's exactly what this ruling is saying; that this man somehow did something wrong by not helping the bank and he deserves to have his email account and potentially years of historical contacts lost.

    If I were this guy, I'd sue this bank for damages (and unfortunately, since I'm not even a party to the fucking lawsuit that unfairly harmed me I'd have to sue Google for an injunction against complying with the previous order). Big time. It's this kind of thing that makes me wish we could directly sue a judge for the idiocy of his decisions. Their total lack of accountability is reprehensible.

  • by MMC Monster (602931) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @08:37PM (#29552047)

    Who represented the rights of the user to the court?

    Was a public defendant even involved, or was no one assigned because there was no face to the account that was deleted?

  • Re:G-Mail? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by easyTree (1042254) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @08:46PM (#29552113)

    Maybe. What kind of organisation/industry does business with such people under the threat of repossessing their goods should they fail to meet the agreement?

    How much longer must I wait before I see people care for their fellow human? Why is it that this world seems to be populated by predators? Feel free to achieve consciousness you fucking ghouls.

  • by Dan541 (1032000) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @08:53PM (#29552147) Homepage

    The owner of the gmail account should be able to sue the bank for damaging their business.

  • Re:IMAP (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mysidia (191772) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @08:54PM (#29552155)

    But the person whose email the information was sent to is not an innocent bystander, either. They had a chance to possibly avoid this action, but they chose to ignore the bank's secondary email.

    How dare you say such a thing! There's no reason to believe they're anything other than innocent.

    For all you or I know, the person didn't get the message from the bank. They might not have even gotten the original message, either or both could have gone to the spam folder, or gotten deleted/filtered.

    Some people don't log into their e-mail account and check for new mail all that often, so they might not have seen either message yet.

    Some people receive so much mail, that they don't read every message, only mail from known contacts, other stuff gets filed in a 'to look at later, maybe' mailbox.

    Also, even if they deleted the original message, or actually saw it, before receiving a message from the bank... it really doesn't obligate them to reply. They are in effect a victim of the bank.

    They are more than innocent bystander yes, they are the primary wronged party. The only party we know that damage has really been done to.

    Then there are the bank's customers... well, if the recipient deleted the message, they aren't in immediate danger, other than the fact that their bank seems to like transmitting their most confidential information over an insecure protocol, to random recipients on the internet, without protection.

    They deserve to know about this, so they can switch banks. This is not about starting a panic or not, they need this information so they can make an educated decision about who they can trust with their information.

    Frankly, I think the US needs a constitutional ammendment that declares that matters of this nature must never be sealed by any court.

  • Re:G-Mail? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Daimanta (1140543) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @08:58PM (#29552171) Journal

    "In our society, someone with lots of money can almost always get their way against someone with no money."

    In any society, .......

  • Re:G-Mail? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by darkpixel2k (623900) <aaron@heyaaron.com> on Saturday September 26, 2009 @09:00PM (#29552187) Homepage

    How much longer must I wait before I see people care for their fellow human?

    Well easyTree, I'm currently renting and I'd like to buy a house. I have 6 credit cards (all maxed out) giving me $13,000 in debt, a car payment (which I'm two months behind on) of $315/mo and I still have a year left on the loan, and 6 companies dinging my credit report for roughly $1,000 in unpaid bills over the last 10 years. Why don't you loan me $250k so I can buy a house?

    What? What do you mean I'm a credit risk? Where's your compassion for a fellow human?

    (When you achieve consciousness you'll realize there's a difference between compassion and stupidity.)

  • Re:Sooo hang on... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 26, 2009 @09:20PM (#29552299)

    Because I don't want to have to change my e-mail address just because I changed an ISP.

  • Re:Sooo hang on... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 26, 2009 @09:26PM (#29552339)

    The focus here needs to be on the judge. He needs to be taken off the bench for the ruling. It's a sophomoric solution from a technological Luddite. 86ing an email account is on par with deleting your phone number or taking your address off the postal service grid. Dumb dumb

  • Re:Sooo hang on... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MartinSchou (1360093) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @09:32PM (#29552379)

    The answer is to not rely on Google for email.

    I think you mean

    The answer is to not rely on anyone else for email.

    If the bank had asked your local ISP for the information identifying you, would they have waited for a court order before disclosing it, or would they have folded and just said 'here you go' to the bank? And if they waited for a court order, how the fuck would that be any different that what Google did? The judge would still be as stupid, the bank would be just as stupid, and the account would be just as closed, and the victim just as screwed.

  • Re:G-Mail? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by erroneus (253617) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @09:42PM (#29552427) Homepage

    Actually, if you believe Michael Moore, the number one reason for mortgage defaults was the high cost of health care. While the predatory lending with adjustable rate mortgages were a plenty and a significant factor, one of the dirty and quietly kept secrets is that the high cost of health care and health insurance is the number one cause leading to foreclosure.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 26, 2009 @09:42PM (#29552429)

    What email do you use that would disobey a judge's order?

    His own server, perhaps?

    What makes you think that you won't arrive home to find that all of your electronic equipment has been confiscated?

  • by mpaulsen (240157) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @09:53PM (#29552499) Journal
    "Every one should email the bank banker@rmbank.com to ask them of their shady practices." No. Everyone should email some personal information to banker@rmbank.com, then insist that their domain be shut down.
  • Re:G-Mail? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by easyTree (1042254) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @10:05PM (#29552599)

    Are you saying hands-down that a bank should refuse to loan me money for a new car?

    No, I'm saying that if you can only afford to pay back a $5000 loan then they shouldn't offer you a $50000 loan...

    For what it's worth, I'm similarly screwed after winning the cutback-lottery at my previous employer's :D Although, on the up-side, I've never been so happy (in all but the financial aspect.)

  • by dbIII (701233) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @10:25PM (#29552707)
    It's been emailed in plain text so a lot of people have have had a chance to get it before it even makes it to the gmail account. The only responsible action is to assume that the horse has bolted, change the account numbers, and set policy in place to make it more difficult for the next horse to bolt. Instead we are seeing careful reputation damage control. Even if google deletes the email the file may have been downloaded, and possibly even torrented (best to imagine the extreme and just change to bank details to make the file worthless) which makes some heavy handed seizure of the users computer pointless in stopping it escaping.
    A failure in bank policy has made it to the courtroom and it's best assumed that a single action on the innocent recipient of the email isn't going to solve the problem. Going to court in the first place is a major stuffup in that confidential details go onto the record so it's another bit of PR damage control to seal the records. It's probably a good call to seal the records because the bank appears to just want to play whack a mole going after external leaks instead of making it so the leaked information becomes worthless. Not sealing the records would just create another leak and the account holders shouldn't suffer due to the stupidity of those running their bank.
    Once again the lawyers are just trying to do the best they can for a bunch of idiots that don't want to be responsible for their own actions.
  • Inflation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Billly Gates (198444) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @10:35PM (#29552767) Journal

    There is a debate between economists on whether inflation should just include the price of products excluding food and energy or should it include housing and health insurance. Both housing and insurance have trippled since the late 1990's. Sure on paper it looks like you make the same but a $175,000 home in 1999 costs $350,000 even during the recession. Suddenly $55,000 a year is not worth jack in most metropolitan areas even if prices do not necessarily show it.

    If you health care costs were put in the inflation equation with housing we would see a totally different side of economics that economists should have prevented if they only knew.

    Something does need to be done.

  • Re:Sooo hang on... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by martin-boundary (547041) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @10:36PM (#29552771)

    Because I don't want to have to change my e-mail address just because I changed an ISP.

    This is not a problem that goes away when you use a provider such as Google or Yahoo, etc. To spell it out: you get a different email address if you switch from Gmail to Yahoo to Hotmail and vice versa.

    Perhaps you think you're happy with e.g. Hotmail and you'll never want to switch? Some people are happy with their local ISP and never want to switch. Then again, some people have been using email for longer than Google or Yahoo have existed, and have seen large free mail service providers come and go, forcing their customers to switch email addresses anyway.

    The only long term protection against a changing email address is to register your own domain name.

  • Re:G-Mail? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by easyTree (1042254) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @10:44PM (#29552813)

    But who determines how much is too much? The bank? According to your views, they've been screwing up and can't be trusted to assess loans.

    No; according to my views their ability to assess loans hasn't changed; what's changed is their willingness to give loans to those they know cannot repay.

    It all boils down to risk/reward. Are you going to dump tons of money on someone who might just screw you over? If the potential reward is big enough you will. That's what banks are doing.

    Isn't there feedback though? The more onerous the reward to the banks, the higher the risk of them getting screwed. Seems like Achilles and the tortoise.. [wikipedia.org]. So what they're really doing is guaranteeing that they'll have to take their customer's house and sell it plus they get a tidy bonus on top for the few months they were paid.

    Only idiots buy $250,000 houses that are really worth $150,000 when all they can afford is $100,000.

    Idiots with willfully-negligent loan advisors.

    When did the government get the power to take money from me for the bad decisions of banks and sub-prime borrowers?

    As someone else insightfully pointed out, banks only take responsibility for their financial successes... It's only fair.. Oh wait.. Perhaps because the banks don't actually have anything backing the loans they offer? The whole system is a scam which depended upon an increasing number of new suckers to take credit every year; if the bubble hadn't burst, after sub-prime, dead people would have been taking credit they couldn't afford to repay.

  • Re:G-Mail? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SuperQ (431) * on Saturday September 26, 2009 @11:31PM (#29553105) Homepage

    I'm really glad you're out of the debt cycle. Serious props for digging yourself out of it.

    There are places that will give you auto credit. Credit unions (easy to get with many jobs) are a good way. Dealerships are hurting like crazy and will give car loans in order to get inventory off their lot.

    The other option is if you have a trustworthy friend, get a "loan" from them to get the cash down on a car.

    You could also get a crappy, but serviceable for 6 months car until you get your credit score back in order.

  • Re:G-Mail? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sjames (1099) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @12:12AM (#29553343) Homepage

    The banks knew damned well it would all come apart eventually, they just willfully ignored the warnings FROM THE PERSON WHO CREATED THE MODEL.

    They willfully created bad loans that were nearly certain to blow up and then sold them off like hot potatoes so they wouldn't be holding them when the inevitable happened. These were not merely lapses.

    Note that the people who did this have not suffered one little bit from the economic carnage. Their plan worked.

    It's also notable that the families had the assurances of 'experts' that everything would be fine and that they would be able to repay the loan by refinancing. It was made to sound like the refinancing would be a mere formality.

    It is an important distinction. The ignorant can learn or be OK with a little better supervision. Greedy and evil can not be trusted in any capacity at all.

    They didn't hire an engineer to do it because they knew damned well he'd blow the whistle.

  • Re:G-Mail? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hognoxious (631665) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @12:13AM (#29553355) Homepage Journal

    What kind of organisation/industry does business with such people under the threat of repossessing their goods should they fail to meet the agreement?

    One that isn't a charity?

  • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @01:01AM (#29553581) Homepage

    Have you looked at the cost of "every little thing" on the list of charges from an average doctor's visit? Even the most trivial item or service is ridiculously expensive.

    It would make plenty of sense to cover oil changes, tune-ups and brake jobs if the cost comparison were similar to what you see in medical costs. An oil change costs anywhere from $10 to $25 out where I live. Brake jobs can range anywhere from $50 to $150 for basic stuff. If a doctor visit cost that and included anything other than an examination, that would be terrific. And if the cost of prescriptions were somehow less than the price of 4 cans of motor oil, I'd be right there with you. But that is simply not the case. Drugs are ridiculously expensive. (When my youngest was an infant and was experiencing some severe allergies, the doctor prescribed a ridiculously expensive tube of something that cost over $100 at the pharmacy! I bought it but my out of pocket was like $50 versus $10-$15 because my insurer didn't want to cover that drug.)

    If people don't need their medical stuff all the time, they wouldn't need to be so concerned about it. But when a medical problem arises, it often involves months if not years of continuous treatment all on the same scale as I have been describing... expensive drugs, expensive office visits, expensive procedures, expensive tests. And people who are well insured are still getting hit hard because the cost of the insurance is still prohibitively expensive.

    I consider myself lucky. I don't have any medical problems. My wife and children don't either. That is really fortunate. But there are lots of people who aren't so fortunate... lots. And it does often cost people their homes because it often comes down to completing medical treatments or paying the mortgage. Insurers drop or deny coverage QUITE often which is yet another talking point in favor of healthcare reform.

    I get the feeling you simply don't understand what healthcare costs really are because you haven't really paid any before.

  • Re:G-Mail? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Billly Gates (198444) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @01:41AM (#29553763) Journal

    The problem is the banks do not have to take risks. Thats what credit swaps and flipping are for.

    If the bank can sell the $250k home worth $125 for $275 30 days later ... thats a $25,000 profit!

    Until the banks have to keep their own darn assets then they will think like you and I with risks.

    FDR (socialists as he was) did the right thing with the glass ceiling laws. It should be illegal to package assets together and flip properties to financial firms. What Greenspan and Clinton did needs to be undone. Problem is the banks are lobbying Obama to just do something dumb like have our great banks keep 5% of the home rather than 100% pre 1999.

  • by internic (453511) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @02:12AM (#29553881)

    Trust me, if you were more familiar with the incident you'd probably agree with the "brain dead" description. Several points:

    1. Police apparently already suspected there was one of these mail drop operations (where packages were shipped to an innocent person only to be swiped off their porch), so they knew the package was likely not for him.
    2. Rather than having some officers come to the door, they had a SWAT team break down the door unannounced, shoot the dogs (at least one of whom was simply running away), and cuff the residents on the floor (where they remained for several hours). The quantity of drugs (30 lbs of marijuana, IIRC) was such that it could not quickly be destroyed, and they had no other reason to think they would encounter violent resistance. Which brings us to the next point...
    3. They did no preparatory research. They did not even know who lived there. The officers on scene did not believe he was the mayor (which they would have known if they'd done even a Google search). What this says is that they simply deployed maximum force (maximally endangering everyone in the house) rather than any reasoned approach based on the likely resistance.
    4. Police entered without first announcing themselves. This requires a "no-knock" warrant, which they did not have.
    5. The package actually sat on the front porch for the better part of the day. The guy even walked his dogs when he got home before taking the package in. That should have been a tip-off that he didn't realize it contained >$100k of drugs.

    Basically, they did not take a reasoned approach but simply used maximal force, thereby terrorizing and endangering the innocent. Moreover, their sloppy police work quite possibly would have allowed him to get off even if he had been involved. They certainly should have investigated, but they way they did it was utterly irresponsible.

    Your analogy is flawed for a number of reasons: First, arresting someone in their car is considerably less dangerous (to everyone involved) than breaking into someone's house unannounced and firing shots. Second, murder is considerably more serious (and suggestive of suspect resistance) than drug trafficking. And third, it's unlikely that an individual would be victim of a body dumping scheme while it's trivial to mail someone a package with something illegal in it.

  • Re:G-Mail? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ChameleonDave (1041178) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @04:02AM (#29554285) Homepage

    But who determines how much is too much? The bank?

    Yes, because they know. If they act unethically, regulation will be necessary.

    According to your views, they've been screwing up and can't be trusted to assess loans. The government? They got the banks here in the first place with stupid regulations.

    Did a gun-carrying radio talkshow host tell you that? It's not an idea anyone could have spontaneously formed.

  • by BrokenHalo (565198) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @04:11AM (#29554313)
    The owner of the gmail account should be able to sue the bank for damaging their business.

    That might not be very easy to prove. Especially since it was the action of the judge that nuked his account. Good luck suing him. But you're right in that the judge was way out of line in capriciously disrupting someone's life when he has done nothing wrong.

    This brings up another point: there is an increasing tendency for American companies to conflate US Law with World Law. If I, a gmail account holder living in Australia, had my account nuked by some craniorectal US judge, I would be mightily pissed off, since no US judge has jurisdiction over me. But no matter how pissed off I was, I would have no redress.

    This just makes me glad I run my own mail server...
  • Re:G-Mail? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rohan972 (880586) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @04:15AM (#29554329)

    Securitizing the mortgages alone is not evil.

    The practice of letting private banks inflate the currency supply through fractional reserve lending resulting in a consistently inflationary financial system is evil.

    Deflation is a result of lending "money" that doesn't exist. Real money does not disappear if someone doesn't repay a loan. The borrower goes bankrupt, the lender suffers loss but it won't destroy the economy as a whole. Even a fiat currency could act like that provided it was released by the government as value rather than by banks as debt.

  • by Idiomatick (976696) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @07:51AM (#29555011)
    I think google could do more. After they lose. Have the front page logo for google search in the whole state be a link to this bank's incompetence... for a month. Perfectly legal, costs them nothing and would gain them some good customer rep.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 27, 2009 @08:29AM (#29555167)

    "We're not in the habit of going to homes and shooting peoples' dogs," Ellis said. "If we were, there would be a lot more dead dogs around the county."

    Sounds like the sergeant would like to do this a bit more often ...

  • by delvsional (745684) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @11:37AM (#29556751)

    Have the front page logo for google search in the whole state be a link to this bank's incompetence... for a month.

    That would be a fucking awesome display of power

  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @01:20PM (#29557685)
    Why should I have all of my electronic equipment at home?

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