Ask Mr. Data Breach

Pretty sure you didn’t order that helicopter that showed up on last month’s credit card bill?  Wondering how your next-door-neighbor knows your high school nickname was “Binky”?  You may be the victim of a “data breach”–and Mr. Data Breach is here to help!

“I did everything I could to make them extremely tasteful!”


Dear Mr. Data Breach:

I am not sure I have a case here, but I need your help.

I work at an educational company, it has something to do with education.  Recently I asked the IT people if I could add WiFi to my phone, they said talk to Reynaldo, he handles that.

So I called Reynaldo and he says sure, come to my (his) office.  We had a friendly chat while I sat there and he fiddled with my phone, but in NO way did I make any kind of romantic advancements towards him, it was all just your usual everyday flirting.

Later Reynaldo came by and said he needed to check my phone to make sure it was working properly.  I did not think anything of it as I was in a hurry to leave, but when I looked at my phone later I noticed that my photos were opened and had been scrolled through but I chalked it up to a tiny mistake on his end and forgot about it.

Last night I checked my messages app and it looks like five nude photos of me were sent to a phone number I don’t recognize.  This is up “in the cloud” so even though he erased them from my phone the messages show up on my home computer.

Mr. Data Breach, these are very sensitive pictures because I am wearing a Spanish-American War hat to please a former boyfriend of mine who was really into Teddy Roosevelt and “rough riding.”  What with everybody being so sensitive these days I’m afraid Reynaldo might leak them to some Latino group who will organize a protest against me.

It is probably better if you call my landline at the bottom of this letter, do NOT put it in the paper!

Carol Ann Zobriski, Paducah KY


Dear Carol Ann–

In order to help you I would need to see the “forensic” evidence, as they say on TV crime shows.  If you will send me copies of the nude photos I will see what I can do.

“Let’s knock her out with general anesthesia, then get her credit card numbers.”


Dear Mr. Data Breach–

I am a receptionist/billing clerk in a dentist’s office.  Every now and then I get a little behind in my bills because I do not make much money.  When this happens, I very discreetly copy down a patient’s credit card information and use it to pay for necessities such as gas for me to get to work and haircuts.  I figure if I didn’t, where would the patient be?  Out of luck with a bum tooth, is where.

I know what I do is wrong, but I have heard of something called “situational ethics” and that’s my situation, so it seems ethical to me.  I know if I’m ever caught I will have to make restitution, but will that include interest?  Rates on credit cards are so high!

Thank you in advance for your cooperation,

Therese van der Linken, Schenectady NY


Dear Therese–

I checked and the Code of Conduct of the American Dental Receptionists Association provides that members may not exempt themselves from that organization’s requirements using concepts borrowed from German philosophers.  If caught, you will need to complete a remedial course in Dental Profession Ethical Standards and Practices (2 continuing education credits).  Try to schedule your exam someplace you can afford without defrauding an innocent dental patient, like a Motel 6.


Hey there, Mr. Data Breach–

Long-time reader, first time writer!

I have a question regarding first wives.  I had one, we are now divorced, we had credit cards in both our names.  I have been getting emails from the bank recently saying “Your password has changed,” things like that.  To be frank, I can’t keep track of all my passwords so I take their word for it.  After all, they’re a big bank, they even have a minor league stadium named after them (“MegaSouthUniBankOne Park”).

Used to be you could put a notice in the classified ads saying “I will no longer be responsible for the debts of my former wife, Earleen” and merchants would go along with it.  I see a couple charges on this month’s bill for meals in restaurants I’ve never heard of, and whenever I call the 800 number I get some guy in India who has never even been to Ohio.

We always used pet names for passwords, so I figure Earleen got a new dog or cat and is using that.  Can I get a court order requiring her to disclose her password so I can monitor the bills she’s running up in my name?

Joe Don Webb, Chillicothe, Ohio


Dear Joe Don:

I’m sorry but pet names are protected under the Pet Name Privacy Protection Act of 2015, which passed overwhelmingly in both houses of Congress “with flying colors.”  An effective “work around” for dealing with mischievous first wives is to follow her to Bennigan’s or another one of her favorite restaurants and ask that she be paged by saying “Earleen Webb, your third slab of ribs is ready.”  That will cut down on your fraudulent charges real quick.

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Take My Advice–I Wasn’t Using it Anyway.”


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