But first, Publisher’s Clearing House.
If you are old enough, like GOT, you remember those sweepstakes. They came regularly in the mail and, to win a few million dollars, all you had to do was risk a stamp to put your entry into the mail.
Not a few cynics believed that unless you ordered a boatload of magazines, which Publisher’s Clearing House was after, your entry went into the trash.
PCH took pains to explain that they complied with state laws and that every entry, magazine subscription orders or not, had an equal chance of winning.
But they knew, by putting the advert into people’s homes, many would decide to order magazines. And, it was kind of fun, looking through the offerings, detaching the stamps, licking the back, and pasting them onto the order form even if your Dad made you throw those orders into the trash.
Ah, an innocent fun our young will never know.
Why is PCH still in business? Print is dying.
That was my question when a tablet ad barged into my consciousness as I caught up on a few games.
I took the bait. What I figured was they would take my info, ask some questions about my interests as in what kind of magazines I would be interested in, and then sell the data.
I took the bait because I figured that was what they were after–data, which as we all know is big bucks these days–and by entering their contest, I would gather some info worth a blog post about privacy.
But PCH asked nothing more than my address and my email address … well, they needed my birth date also.
But that was it. How could they gather data about my interests if they didn’t ask subtly through magazine choices? What exactly were they after? An email address? Pbbft. They can have it. One day I’ll burn it when the spam gets too annoying. (Something an old person would think and do.)
Let it rest, I figured.
Maybe I’ll learn something later once the spam starts rolling in.
But then it hit me … a conversation I had with a student in my second period today.
“GOT (he used my name), why are ‘Student Loans’ calling me on my phone?”
At first, I was confused. He was too young to have student debt and I was thinking he was getting a debt collection call.
Nope, if it was mistaken identity, you wouldn’t be reading this.
The truth is worse.
At 14 years of age, he is receiving solicitations to take out student loans through the boiler room that is doing the calls.
I told him he was too young to be thinking about student loans–that is for college. In a year and a half, when he is beginning to identify colleges he may want to attend and researching the costs, at that time he will work with our outstanding Guidance Department to find scholarships and financial aid through organizations that are not out to exploit him.
This … 14! … is not a time to fall to a pitch to enter into a soul-crushing, life-long debt that must be paid off.
(Student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.)
14! Are you as outraged as I am?
14! And now GOT must wonder how they found him. Who gave up the phone number?
Student privacy is a real issue. There’s an upcoming webinar about protecting student privacy and you can sign up for it here. (Source: Badass Teachers Association and Parent Coalition for Student Privacy. Mentioned by Diane Ravitch in her blog.)
Watch it. Grumpy Old Teacher plans to.