Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Curious Priceline credit card fraud today

Around 2:30pm Amex.app tells me a $1.00 authorization charge has been placed for Priceline. Which I didn’t do. 

I’m in a meeting so I figure I’ll follow up later.

Around 4pm I get a Google Voice transcription from “Cynthia” of the “Priceline.com fraud prevention department” asking me to call 203-441-8455. Someone has ordered two plane tickets on my Amex card.

I call Amex and they do see the transactions. They never made it to my account though, so they must have run hard into Amex fraud detection (best in the industry AFAIK). I’m issued a new card. Noteworthy: I’m told my many recurring online transactions won’t break and later in the day Apple Pay tells me it’s automatically updated my information with the new card — though I won’t get the physical card for a few days.

I do call 203-441-8455. They claim to be Priceline Fraud Prevention, but they sound awfully shady. I already knew I wasn’t going to give them any personal data so I carried on. (I later googled the number, found a 2012 ref that said this was indeed them.)

I was told two plane tickets were bought on my card — and there’s a name attached to each ticket (vaguely Indian/middle eastern sounding names). The harried woman says the plane leaves in 30 minutes so they probably can’t block them. Which is, of course, Priceline’s problem. There’s a reason I like American Express.

Note to Priceline.com: your Fraud Prevention department should sound less like an international call shop scam operation.

I checked my ancient and little used Priceline account. It had a robust password, had no transaction records, and it didn’t hold my Google Voice number. I don’t think it was hacked. I changed the password anyway.

It’s a bit weird. Why would someone use a stolen credit card to buy plane tickets when they have to match the name on the tickets to their personal ID? It seems a risky behavior! And how did Priceline get my Google Voice number? (Maybe from AMEX?) Least odd is that someone stole my AMEX credentials (the physical card is at home). I assume all my credit card numbers are available online for a few dollars.

I wonder if Priceline is a particularly effective way to buy plane tickets with a stolen credit card number? I doubt Priceline will report any of this to the police, even though they probably have the traveler’s true names.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A change to my publishing streams

These are the last days of app.net. It ends in 3 days. App.net has been good to me. Great tools, smart and interesting people, RSS integration (albeit grudgingly at first) and the best communication/conversation platform I’ve worked with. App.net was what Twitter should have been. It has made clear how badly Twitter has failed.

These are, surprisingly, also the end times for Maciej’s Pinboard as a publishing platform. I have 33,236 pins there, and something is broken. Neither pinner.app or pushpin.app are able to connect and download the streams. From what Maciej has written in the past I may have passed some throttling limit. I’m using Pinboard in ways he did not intend — and the iOS apps don’t scale either. 

So I need to make some changes. Gordon’s Notes and Tech will stay on Blogger for now — it’s been surprisingly robust and trouble free for many years. It helps that there’s an exit strategy to WordPress if Google kills it, but as best I can tell Google is going to keep Blogger limping along.

My DreamHost wordpress microblog has mirrored my pinboard stream for years. I’m going to see if there’s a way to make it a true microblog publishing platform. I’m not sure how to do that, in particular it’s not obvious how I can conveniently post via Reeder.app. It will take me a while to work that out.

In the meantime there are several app.net spinoffs in the work. I’m tracking several of these as much as my time allows - especially pnut.io (@jgordon) and 10centuries (@jgordon). March 2017 is a heck of a month for me so things have gone slowly.

Uncertain times! For now if you follow kateva.org/sh you’ll see what I’m up to, no matter how the process evolves.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Warfare goes to the elite

Once upon a time tens of thousands of New Yorkers moved paper from one file cabinet to another. Once upon a time there were jobs for strong bodies. Once upon a time you could be blue collar and middle class.

Once upon a time anyone could be a warrior …

Special Operations Troops Top Casualty List as U.S. Relies More on Elite Forces

… “We’ve moved out of the major combat operations business,” said Linda Robinson, a counterterrorism expert at the RAND Corporation. In recent years, she said, the military has effectively outsourced rank-and-file infantry duties to local forces in places like Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, leaving only a cadre of highly skilled Americans to train troops and take out high-value targets…

Now the physical and cognitive elite dominate warfare. Automation and globalization — in this case drones and outsourcing to local infantry.

Trump didn’t come from nowhere.