retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Last Friday's FaceTime commentary pointed out that in a recent conversation with Social Security over screwed up Medicare benefits, I was told that I could only mail or fax them paperwork - no emails accepted.

Beyond the fact that I'm not sure how someone as eternally youthful as I am to be going on Medicare, I thought this was reflective of an an institution out of touch with how people interact today … something that businesses need to avoid at all costs.

One MNB reader responded:

Kevin, you of all people should know about this. Its called fraud. Fishing. Etc.

Believe me the SSA has email.  They just don't open it up to the public because of email fraud. You have little to no fraud faxing. Even the IRS states/claims they won't call you or email you.

I, on behalf of my wife, got her on SSI and Medicare at 59 and 60. We met personally, and they were extremely helpful. And when they reached out to us, it was via the mail. That's how ( at least presently), it works and you know it's legit.

To quote Bond, James Bond, sometimes the old ways work best.

From another reader:

The real reason the government still uses fax is actually even more ignorant.  Fax is considered secure, while email is not.  When you are transmitting SSN, or HIPAA covered information, email is considered too risky and vulnerable to hacking.  That’s why Pharmacies and Doctor’s offices still use faxes.  We are a security review away from being a more efficient society.  Unfortunately our government has other priorities right now.

And another:

As a small business owner during the pandemic, I have had to deal with the Illinois Department of Employment Security and they also don’t use email. When I had to terminate an employee for theft and she filed for unemployment I had to dispute her claim. During the dispute I had a few conversations with an IDES employee and when I mentioned that I had video of the theft I could email to him, he informed me that they do not use email for communication and I could fax my dispute. Of course I wouldn’t be able to fax a video but I was fortunate that the employee was eventually denied unemployment but the process could have been much easier  if we could have communicated with emails.

And, a note from MNB reader Dr. Allen F. Wysocki:

Kevin, I am like you. What is a FAX anymore? It would be easy for them to have the technology to allow you to upload a file.

I have to believe that in 2021 there has to be a way to have secure email.  

I don't know about you, but I sign contracts all the time online - for speaking gigs, to lease my computer, etc…  There's got to be a way to solve this problem.


Responding to my Friday book review, MNB reader Ron Melton wrote:

I couldn’t agree more about "Premonition," by Micheal Lewis. I was also struck with that comment about the failed state.

His book prompted me to get John Barry’s book The Great Influenza. Another as you say,. eye opener. Barry’s book is bringing mixed feelings on the medical profession. Have always felt we were in the infancy of that profession and this just reinforces that opinion. We are experiencing so much change right now. I’m very optimistic about what is possible in the medical field. Even in a failing medical system.

"Premonition" is a must-read, in the same way that "The Fifth Risk" was.  I have Lewis's "The Undoing Project" on my desk, but haven't gotten to it … yet.