New Techniques for Protecting Your Identity
January 24, 2007 (KABC) -- Debra Scholl likes to use plastic for online purchases, and when her husband travels for work he also racks up charges.
"We're in different states and we spend a lot of money on our credit card," Scholl said.
So Scholl says she wasn't surprised when the credit card company called to check in.
"They had called us initially to verify, make sure we knew about the past five charges," Scholl said.
But before she verified the charges, she had to verify her identity by answering a series of multiple choice questions.
"I was, I guess, quite surprised," Scholl said.
Surprised because the questions had to do with where she lived in 1989, what kind of car her husband currently drives, and what her mother-in-law's maiden name is. What's going on?
"Businesses are moving away from using Social Security number as an identifier. You prevent identity thieves from using stolen information," Chris Rickborn said.
Rickborn is with Verid, a company that helps some of the nation's biggest financial institutions, along with many retailers, keep away the cons.
"We are typically used at the point where someone's opening an account, transferring money, applying for a loan," Rickborn said.
When the bank or retailer enters your name into Verid's system, up pop the questions. The questions are all derived from public information. It's compiled from a variety of sources like bills, court and municipal records. And with close to nine million cases of identity theft last year, consumer advocate Beth Givens says these extra security measures can be a plus, but she says there is a basic privacy issue here.
"Consumers really don't have control over their personal information," Givens said.
But Rickborn says your personal information is always kept private. The quizzes given by banks and retailers are multiple choice.
"We never disclose the right answers. In other words, even our clients don't get to see. We simply return a pass or a fail," Rickborn said.
Scholl says the stepped up security definitely eased her mind.
"It makes me feel safer in this age where there's so much information out there and you're not sure who's getting it," Scholl said.
Rickborn says that the information is constantly updated, that the questions change and can be asked in any sequence. He says the verification process should only take about a minute and a half.
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