December 20, 2005

Social Insecurity

I was on the phone today with my bank's customer service department, trying to clear up a problem I've been having with the new ATM card I received in the mail recently. (It works fine as a bookmark or for cutting lines for my twice-daily cocaine habit, but for withdrawing cash it's worthless.)

At the start of my call, after taking my account number and full name, the customer service representative asked for the last five digits of my social security number. I've gotten used to giving the last four digits of my social security number when I call my bank - and everywhere else, for that matter; my credit card company, gym membership office, you name it - but this was the first time anyone had asked for the last five. I asked Stephen, the polite Indian-accented customer service rep, why the bank now required the addtional digit.

Here was his answer:

"Yes, we used to only require the last four numbers, but we now ask for the last five to provide you with additional security."

How on earth does providing more information make access to my bank account more secure? If I give you the first two digits of my gym locker's combination, aren't I making my possessions less secure than if I had only given you one or none? But since I needed cash more I needed answers, I didn't pursue this bit of Orwellian corporate logic with Stephen.

At this rate, I figure it will only be a few years before I call the bank and, for security purposes, am required to give the last eight digits of my social security number.

Posted by Doug at December 20, 2005 08:15 AM