My funny Valentine

It’s not easy to get my attention during the week we’re going to press. And closing this issue was particularly challenging, as more and more merchants announced layoffs and we had to keep updating the news lineup. It did not seem to be a fun week for anybody.

So when a FedEx box arrived in my office on Valentine’s Day, I was dubious. I hadn’t ordered anything and I knew my husband would never send me a gift at work. It was probably just another new business book, sent unsolicited for my review. I opened it anyway, and inside the box, tucked into a Valentine’s Day gift bag, was a pair of fake zebra fur-lined handcuffs.

Huh? I swear I did not order these (even though a “packing slip” thanked me personally for my $16.99 order). Someone was surely having a little fun at my expense — I felt like I was on an episode of Candid Camera.

Before I could get too steamed, though, a letter stapled to the invoice told me: “Relax. Don’t panic. It’s just a joke…” The risqué restraints were a promotion for Quova, which provides IP geolocation services. The company’s application can be used to detect identity theft and stolen credit cards. I get it — security, handcuffs. Well done.

Why am I writing about this here? Well, it was certainly a clever, timely promotion — not just because it arrived on Valentine’s Day, but also because our cover story “Fear FACTA,” is about data security. So is the article “In praise of PCI”.

But while the Quova promotion was pretty amusing, there’s nothing funny about data security breaches or the legal ramifications for noncompliance with regulations. For instance, did you know that under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), merchants can actually be sued by consumers simply for printing the customer’s credit card expiration data on the receipt?

That’s scary — particularly for smaller merchants who could be put out of business by steep fines resulting from a class-action lawsuit. You might want to check your order management system — now — to make sure it’s compliant with FACTA.

Back to those furry handcuffs. What did I do with them? Well, they’re still here, still in the Valentine’s Day gift bag. Who knows, maybe next Feb. 14 I’ll send them to someone as a joke.

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