I recently opened a new credit card. The company detected "fraudulent activity" on my account, so I had to call them and verify the charges. They asked me the strangest questions to verify my identity.
-Could I tell them the name of a hospital near where I live? Um, no, but I can look it up on Google if you'd like.
-How about a park? Negatory. Do you know the names of the parks you go to?
I ended up looking up the hospital on Google and the customer service rep accepted my response. Yay.
Next question: could I tell them one of my previous addresses? As my freshman-year roommate would have said, "Score."
Could I tell them the nearest cross street? Oh dear. Good thing I had visited the neighborhood recently or I might have missed that one, too! Who knows what questions I then would have had to answer to prove that I did not steal my own identity!
"What color is your underwear?"
This reminded me of when I applied for a new credit card several months ago and they wanted me to answer a million questions to approve me. One of them was, what was the balance on my last credit card statement with a different credit card company? I got the information by logging into my online account and giving them the balance, because I certainly didn't have it memorized. (In case you're wondering, the reason one company could know my last statement balance at another company to the penny is because this information gets reported to credit bureaus credit card companies can access your credit report.)
It was a good thing I had access to a computer when I was on both of these phone calls or I would have failed the tests. I wonder what would have happened then? Would I have been presumed to be an identity thief?
While I appreciate the efforts of credit card companies and other financial institutions to step up their security, as providing my credit card number and the last 4 digits of my SSN surely does not seem sufficient, the questions I had to answer still could have been answered by anyone who had done a good enough job of stealing my identity and had access to the Internet. So what's the point? Eventually identity thieves are going to start collecting the names of people's cats and their fathers' middle names and the makes of people's first cars so they can continue their crimes.
Wherein lies a real solution?
Photo by laffy4k
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