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October 25, 2014 / 1 Heshvan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘credit card’

An Even More Centralized Israel: Cashless and Criminal

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Centralization in Israel is a two-headed coin (or perhaps a two-headed monster).

There’s no doubt, that so many bureaucratic activities go much smoother in Israel than they do in America, because we have ID numbers and our cards are inter-linked to everything. Of course, sometimes that doubles the frustration when obvious things need to be manually duplicated over and over for no reason.

On the other hand, that centralization provides no flexibility or a safety net. Having problems with one government office can easily spill over to an unrelated one, since you’re linked together everywhere on record.

Then there is the basic issue of personal privacy and civil liberties.

And now, the Israeli government is attempting to implement two extreme decisions that threaten civil liberties more than ever.

They’re testing a biometric ID system. God forbid that should ever become mandatory.

Right now, even though your personal bio-data is out there with different organizations, there is still some semblance of privacy and protection because of the separation that naturally exists between your health fund, the army, the government, and so on.

But once that goes away, there goes your privacy. You will have no control over your personal information at all, and you’re reliant on the government, which as we know, is not the most effective of protectors of personal data.

The other move is even scarier.

The Israeli government is actually considering trying to find a way to abolish cash.

There was a unanimous cabinet decision to explore how to do that (Hey Naftali Bennett, I didn’t vote for you to lose my civil liberties – remember that come election time).

They want to get rid of cash, and give everyone rechargeable “cash cards” that will allow the government to track every single transaction you do. EVERY. SINGLE. TRANSACTION.

I can’t even begin to describe the civil liberties and privacy violations that implementing this system will create.

And if they actually believe this will get rid of cash, or the black market, they’re even stupider than I thought.

Bitcoin, gold, barter… you name it. Smart (and dumb) people will find their way around it. Not to do illegal transactions, mind you, but simply to protect their privacy away from the government’s snooping eyes.

And then we’ll all be criminals, because of a dangerous legislation which is an intrusive attempt to suck more tax money out of us and spy on us, and not just spy directly, but with data mining too, to study our purchase and transaction behavior, and find every last penny they can suck out of us and understand what we do with it.

I guarantee one thing. If this legislation passes, if the party I voted for, and the ones I didn’t, don’t stop this in its tracks, I will do everything (legal) to make sure those people do not get elected again, and be replaced with people who do care and understand the importance of civil liberties and fear the tyranny of government.

Shariah Card: Charge Your Way to Mecca

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

Users of a Shariah-compliant credit card from the United Arab Emirates can charge their purchases according to Islamic law, direct their prayers toward Mecca, and even put a little aside for the Hajj.

Al Hillaj Bank’s new credit card charges no interest on loans, keeping in line with Shariah law forbidding the charging of interest.  The card gives a percentage of the money spent to charity, and features a small compass which can help the Muslim devotee direct his or her prayers toward Mecca 5 times a day.

And it may help him get there in person.  Card users are eligible for travel vouchers which help pay their way to Mecca on the obligatory pilgrimage which occurs there annually.

Pesach Without Pressure

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

I hate to tell you this, but Pesach without pressure is a myth. No matter what anyone tells you (and it’s usually men who tell you that Pesach preparations can be tension free), it just doesn’t exist. To be fair, I don’t know that there is any major holiday or occasion that doesn’t involve some kind of pressure. Eliminating the stress entirely is not a realistic goal. But minimizing it is.

Whether you are home for Pesach or packing up and moving out, it is a major event and, like anything else, requires planning. For those of you who are going to a hotel, I have no advice. Have a great vacation and think of me while you are sitting by the pool on Erev Pesach doing your nails because I promise you, I won’t have polish worthy nails by then. For those of you spending your Yom Tov with relatives, hatzlacha rabbah. I hope everyone gets along well and that the sleeping accommodations are okay. For those of us who are staying home for Pesach, listen up. It’s time to get to work.

Fear not. I am not one of those super efficient people who is ready to kasher her kitchen on Shushan Purim. But I am one of those compulsive people who likes to plan ahead in order to minimize the work, and equally important, the cost of making Pesach, so that both are less intimidating. And believe it or not, the time to get started is now.

I don’t have to tell you just how overwhelming your credit card statement can become Pesach-time. Between making sure that everyone has proper clothing and stockpiling food items, the numbers add up fast, which is why I like to start stocking up on Pesach items now. My first stop for Pesach shopping? My own pantry. You may be surprised to find out how many items you already own that are in sealed containers and have Kosher L’Pesach certification all year round. Check the labels and look for the “P” next to the hechsher. A quick trip through my pantry (know your minhagim) unearthed quite a few products including: assorted coffees and teas, sugar, cocoa, kosher salt, honey, duck sauce, balsamic vinegar and assorted canned goods packed by heimishe companies including sliced mushrooms, hearts of palm, pineapple, sour cherries, Israeli pickles, olives and mandarin oranges. Be sure to check out your freezer as well. Empire raw chicken products are Kosher L’Pesach 365 days a year. So just wipe off your newly acquired Pesach stash, set it aside and you are already one step closer to making Pesach. Make a list of everything you are putting away so that when the time to shop in earnest arrives you will know which items you already own.

Take the time to check out the OU’s Pesach guide (discuss now what your family uses) when it comes out, available both from the OU, in many local kosher stores and online at www.ou.org. Aside from the directory listing items that are supervised for Pesach by the Orthodox Union, the grey pages hold a treasure trove of information telling you which items can be used on Pesach without special supervision. Stock up on those items now as well to help minimize expenses as you get closer to Pesach. No matter when you do your shopping, now or closer to Pesach, take the time to double check every item you put in your cart and make sure it is Pesachdik. You never know when someone will have put an item down in the Pesach area by mistake and trust me when I tell you it is really very disturbing to notice on Pesach that you are holding food that doesn’t say Kosher L’Pesach on it.

Aside from all the cleaning and buying involved for the holiday that is ironically named “z’man chayrusaynu”, the time of our freedom, a major part of your holiday preparations involves food. Before you start googling Pesach cookbooks and recipes, take the time to go through your regular recipes – you may be surprised how many things you make during the year are one hundred percent chometz free. Time is at a premium, so why start experimenting with unfamiliar recipes when so many of your family’s favorites, including soups, main dishes and salads are already Pesach friendly?

Israeli Hacker Retaliates for Saudi Credit Card Attack

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

An Israeli hacker has claimed retaliation for the release of the personal information and credit card data of tens of thousands of Israelis by a Saudi hacker, posting similar information about hundreds of Saudis late Tuesday night.

A Saudi banking official initially denied the claims, saying that Saudis had nothing to worry about, but citizens soon confirmed that their personal information had been compromised.

The Israeli hacker exposed names, e-mail addresses, telephone and cell phone numbers, and credit card numbers of Saudis as well as several Syrians, Egyptians and others. He said he also had obtained the most sensitive credit card information of the people he exposed, but said he was withholding it, intending his move merely as a warning.

“I have nothing personal against these people,” the hacker told an Israeli reporter. “My sole intention is to create a deterrent.”

Earlier, IDF chief of staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz told the Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee that cyber warfare posed a serious threat to the country, but that Israel was prepared to respond.

The Saudi hacker ignited this latest round of an ongoing Arab-Israeli hacking war by offering up “a gift to the world” of what he claimed was the personal information of nearly half a million Israelis. In truth, between 15,000 and 20,000 Israelis’ information had been compromised.

Israeli credit companies said afterward that they were able to block access to the accounts almost immediately and that, while the attack was large by Israeli standards, it was small by global standards.

Saudi Hacker Publicizes 11,000 More Israeli Credit Card Numbers

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

A Saudi hacker released almost 11,000 new private Israeli credit card numbers on Thursday, after publicizing 15,000 earlier this week and encouraging readers to use them to rack up charges.

The Bank of Israel has promised credit card users they will not be charged for fraudulent uses of their cards.

Bank of Israel: 15,000 Stolen Credit Cards Will Be Protected

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

The Bank of Israel assured the 15,000 Israelis whose credit card numbers were posted online by a group of Saudi hackers they they will not have to pay for fraudulent charges on their cards.

The group initially boasted posting approximately 400,000 Israeli credit card numbers on the One sports website.  However, the Bank of Israel has determined the numbers is closer to 15,000, – 6,600 Isracard users, 4,400 Cal credit card users  and 4,000 Leumi Card users.

Army Radio reported that the hackers told One readers to use the cards to make purchases, saying more account information would be published in the future.

The Bank of Israel confirmed that victims of the hack would be protected by the Debit Card Law against making payments on items purchased through fraud.  Credit card companies have taken steps to freeze the compromised accounts, block the use of the cards, and to contact the owners so new cards can be issued.  Victims of the theft will be compensated.

The credit card numbers may have been stolen from coupon websites.  Investigations are ongoing.

Tenfold

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

It was Erev Pesach, three hours before Yom Tov. I was at the checkout counter at the local supermarket. The gentleman in front of me was trying to pay his $48 bill. I noticed that he gave the clerk a credit card that was declined. He offered a second credit card, with the same result. The saleswoman then asked the young man how he planned to pay, to which he sheepishly replied, “May I write a check?”

“Oh,” she answered, “you’ll have to take that up with the manager.”

As soon as he walked away, I turned to the saleswoman and offered her a $50 bill, and said, “Let me pay his bill and run out.”

Perplexed, she asked, “Are you sure?”

“Yes,” I responded. “I’d like to leave quickly, and please don’t say a word about it.”

As I was leaving, I overheard the customer saying, “The manager will let me use a check this time.”

The saleswoman responded, “Don’t bother. Take your groceries and have a great holiday. It’s already been paid for.”

The last words I heard as I flew out the door were, “Who paid for it?”

I arrived home, happy that I had been able to do a little mitzvah. When I told my wife the story, she responded, “That was a very thoughtful idea, and a nice mitzvah for Yom Tov.”

During the first day of Chol HaMoed, I happened to step into a newspaper store to buy a lottery ticket. When I scratched the ticket, I won $500.

“Mah Gadlu Ma’asecha, Hashem – How great are Your works, Hashem.”

I recently walked into the supermarket again, and was approached by the same saleswoman.

“By the way, were you the one who paid the $50 for our customer?”

I hesitatingly said yes.

She beamed and replied, “That young gentleman left us a check for you.”

I took the check and mailed it back in a plain envelope with a written note.

“Thank you, but I have already been paid back tenfold. But please do me a favor. If you ever come across someone in a similar situation, please help him.”

As it says, the world is like a great wheel, where everything we do returns to us. It’s just a matter of time.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/lessons-in-emunah/tenfold/2010/05/26/

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