Bra-size revelations putting consumers at risk: PayPal

A new survey by PayPal into Brits’ preponderance to divulge personal details to complete strangers found that a quarter of all women surveyed were prepared to divulge their bra size to people they don’t know. This finding is causing me a great deal of angst.

I hardly know where to begin, there are so many unanswered questions. How can such a large number of women – it equates to 6 million in the UK alone – have found themselves being asked their bra size by a complete stranger? Have I been missing out on some new craze, because it’s not a question that I have found tripping off my tongue either in the company of complete strangers or even amongst friends and colleagues (or would this be considered less, rather than more unusual?)

Who are these people who go around asking women they don’t know what their bra size is, because even if they have a particular admiration for a woman’s breasts, surely there is no more gratification from knowing their cup size than, say, admiring a sports car but only if one knows precisely the cubic capacity of its owners’ garage?

Even the fact that 15% of respondents said they divulged such information because they had too much to drink does little to answer the above questions: one might indeed reveal all sorts of personal information when totally inebriated, but it still requires that someone else is keen to know the answer.

Besides, I might be so bold as to suggest that the more drunk one were, the less one would be interested in the garage and the more interested in the sports car itself, if you see what I mean.

Another obvious question is what this revelation — or indeed the fact that 7% will tell strangers about their love lives, and 14% about problems at work — has to do with PayPal, the e-payment provider.

Here’s a comment in the press release that will no doubt answer all: “The research has revealed that people in Britain aren’t backwards in coming forwards, and seem to have a no holds barred policy when it comes to revealing information about themselves,” said Cristina Hoole from PayPal. I wonder what her bra size is.

More to the point, will she say why they did this survey and what it means for e-commerce? “Britons admitted to sharing anything from medical problems to love life problems with almost total strangers,” she said. “However, we also saw a lot of people regretting it the next day, often with a hangover to boot.”

But just when you thought PayPal simply had nothing better to do than ask complete strangers to reveal whether they have ever revealed their bra size to complete strangers, Hoole gets to the point: “There is of course a serious point to be made,” she said with a flourish. “People need to be careful about giving away too much information such as financial or medical details to people they do not know which can leave you open to unscrupulous people out there.” The kind of people who might ask you your bra size, perhaps?

“For anyone looking to add a reinforced level of protection PayPal provides that piece of mind so that when shopping online or by mobile, your financial details are not revealed,” Hoole continued. “In today’s world when information can be shared at the touch of a button, it pays to be a little bit cautious from time to time.”

I’m sure that’s true. But if anyone can explain how divulging your bra size to a complete stranger leaves you open to Internet fraud, I’d like to hear from them. I suppose if you were to know someone’s bra size you could steal their ‘breast identity’, by purchasing that self-same bra size yourself. What good it could do you, I have not the remotest clue.

PayPal’s survey reveals nothing specific about Brits’ likelihood of actually divulging some sensitive information that could lead to a genuine fraud risk. The size of your bra or the trouble with your work or love life may lead to your own embarrassment — though only 15% of respondents regretted telling strangers their bra size — but it’s surely better than divulging your address, National Insurance number or online banking password.

Indeed, it could even be argued that when asked for any sensitive information by a complete stranger, your best strategy would be to immediately divulge your bra size. After all, you probably won’t regret doing so the next day, and let’s face it, you won’t be alone, either.

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