9/11 Ruins Another Customer Experience

Angela can’t get a new American Express card because Amex can’t verify her Social Security number. They have to verify it because of 9/11. Since they can’t, they’ve canceled her application. Because of 9/11.

I have an American Express card. It’s a regular gold AmEx, I’ve been a card member since 2005, some months I carry a balance, some months I pay it off in full. I’m just an average customer.

Over the past couple of months I’ve decided that I’d rather have a JetBlue AmEx than my gold AmEx. So, I’ve been trying to apply for a JetBlue AmEx. The key word is TRYING.

1- I tried to just change my gold AmEx into a JetBlue AmEx, but itdoesn’t work that way (I’ve been able to change Citibank credit cards around like that, so I did think it might be that simple.)

2- the only way I could get a JetBlue AmEx was to apply, have my credit report pulled, etc. Ok. I’m totally ok with that.

3- I have a security freeze on my credit reports, so I did a temporary lift of the security freeze on Experian, so that AmEx could run my credit report.

4. My application was cancelled. Not ‘declined,’ cancelled. The online reason I was given was that my Social Security Number could not be confirmed, and so because my SSN could not be confirmed my application was cancelled.

5- I just got off the phone with AmEx’s 800 number, to ask about this SSN message. I thought maybe I’d received the wrong error message, and this was a problem with my security freeze, but nope- the temp lift is fine, and my Experian report can be run. However apparently on top of that the AmEx SSN verification system that is used “because of 9/11″ (exact words the rep used) could not verify my SSN to their satisfaction, and so that is why my application was cancelled.

6- But, the rep informed me, all I had to do was go down to my local Social Security office, and get a letter on SS letterhead verifying my SNN, and send it to AmEx, and then they would consider my application again.

I have no interest in going down to my local Social Security office, just so that I can apply for a JetBlue AmEx, but I am wondering about the “because of 9/11″ reason that I was given:

- (sorry to be redundant, but) I ALREADY HAVE AN AMEX,
- the AmEx I already have I received in 2005. So obviously my SSN existed in 2005 and passed the “because of 9/11″ procedures in 2005, so why am I having such a hard time just *applying* for an AmEx?

Can we get a moratorium on using 9/11 as an excuse for anything customer related? What happened to “for security reasons” as a legitimate excuse?

(Photo: apesara)

Comments

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  1. BreadBoy says:

    I would take my business elsewhere…

  2. Yoko Broke Up The Beatles says:

    I thought using the term “because of 9/11″ was the exclusive right of Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 presidental campaign?

  3. zigziggityzoo says:

    “‘dem turrurists ginna get em sum AMURRCAN credit cards? Aw, hell naw.”

  4. xkevin says:

    The representative probably meant to reference the Patriot Act but thought 9/11 was an easier explanation.

    • Jeff Newman says:

      @xkevin:

      Right. The “know your customer” rules require banks to do a lot more to verify identity to prevent money laundering, and they were passed as part of the Patriot Act.

      So, to say that they need to do this “because of 9/11″ is not that much of a stretch.

      • WillG says:

        @Jeff Newman:
        Hello? Read the post much?
        She GOT a card from them in 2005, and it was OK then, it’s in good standing now.
        She’s an EXISTING CUSTOMER.

        Man!

        • MaelstromRider says:

          @WillG: It doesn’t matter if she’s an existing customer or not. It’s a new account and new accounts have to follow certain guidelines.

          I’d be more concerned as to why they can’t verify her SSN, as this may hinder other types of financial transactions that require SSN.

          • bwcbwc says:

            @MaelstromRider: Yeah, it could mean that someone else (illegal immigrant) has “borrowed” her SSN. Which may be the factor that has changed since 2005. Maybe she got the card in 2005 and her SSN passed because only her name came up but now with some other person recorded using her SSN it raises a flag in the security database.

        • Jeff Newman says:

          @WillG:

          Hello? The law specifically says the info needs to be verified on every account. Why the hell are you trying to jump down my throat?

          • IndiaDeer says:

            @Jeff Newman: The law simply states that firms have to create a Customer Identification Program, not that it has to be used so anally on each “new” account. At the firm for which I work, we waive the CIP for existing customers.

          • lilyHaze says:

            @Jeff Newman: I don’t think it was the fact that she didn’t know her SSN. She needed to go to the SSN office and get a letter that verifies her SSN.

            I’ve applied for a few cards past 2001 and none have asked me to do that. I’ve answered questions about my birthdate, SSN, mother’s maiden name, etc. But I’ve never had to ask a government office to verify my identity. It’s just weird.

    • tcolberg says:

      @xkevin: Don’t worry, I’m sure they’re taking it very seriously, because of 9/11.

  5. mmmsoap says:

    Can we get a moratorium on using 9/11 as an excuse for anything customer related? What happened to “for security reasons” as a legitimate excuse?

    While I’m generally in favor of good security, I much prefer it to be smart security. How, exactly, does making sure that someone has a valid SSN keep them from hating America and/or plotting bad things? How does this make me safer?

    • xkevin says:

      @mmmsoap: Its to combat money laundering which could be used to “finance terror”.

      • ARP says:

        @xkevin: Yep- The USA PATRIOT Act imposed requirements for banks and financial services companys to verify the identity of persons wishing to open accounts. It appears that Am Ex is unable to verify your identity and therefore cancelled your application.

        • pop top says:

          @ARP: But why are they having problems with her SSN now, when she’s had a card with them since 2005? I’m sure they would automatically renew her current Amex card and send her a new when before the expiration date without any SSN hassle. Why can’t they give her a new type of card without one?

          • teh says:

            @squinko: I believe that the SSN check was written such that it would only apply to new accounts. Her existing account didn’t require any verification.

            • pop top says:

              @teh: But it’s not a new account, it’s just a new credit card. She already has an account with them.

              • wrjohnston19283 says:

                @squinko:

                It is a new account. She stated that she has to open a new account and can’t switch card types on the same account. She’s an existing customer with an existing account, but in order to get the JetBlue card, she has to open a separate account, which, according to Amex’s policy, looks like it must be processed as a new customer.

    • klc says:

      @mmmsoap: A credit card can be used as a type of ID in some circumstances, possibly the ‘two pieces of non-photo non-government ID instead of the one photo ID you lost…’ scenario

    • maines19 says:

      @mmmsoap: Wonder if that guy who just shot up the Holocaust Museum has a valid SSN and is therefore no security risk . . .

  6. sanjsrik says:

    Um, this is AMEX right? Idiots on parade.

  7. KingPsyz says:

    Reminds me of the Family Guy when Lois runs for Mayor and Brian talks her into just saying 9/11 as an answer for everything.

  8. smileboot says:

    Im gonna go out on a limb and say the OP may have been married or had something happen to her name at some point which is causing it not matching up with their database. She should try and open a card at another institution and if the same thing happens goto the SS office and have them check their records.

    • pop top says:

      @smileboot: When people change their names when they get married, they usually go and get a new SS card, which would register the name change with the federal government.

      I also don’t think you’d bring up the married name problem if the OP was a man.

      • West Coast Secessionist says:

        @squinko: “bring up the married name problem if the OP was a man.”

        Not speaking for smileboot here, but men don’t usually change their names due to marriage, (or any other reason) so no, that would not be a likely guess. Are you implying that it’s sexist to know the FACT that a majority of women do choose to change their names and a majority of men don’t?

        I’m probably a sexist too since I only have sex with women.

        Damn us MEN!

        • pop top says:

          @West Coast Secessionist: I was just pointing out that smileboot was reaching for an excuse to blame the OP, one that they wouldn’t have come up with if not for the fact the OP was a woman.

          And don’t be an idiot. There’s nothing sexist about being heterosexual.

          • Benguin says:

            @squinko: I don’t think smileboot was trying to blame the OP, but rather come up with a possible explanation.

            Blaming the op would have been more like “That’s what you get for using AMEX. And letting those planes hit those towers. Shame on you.”

  9. The-Lone-Gunman says:

    What utter nonsense.

    She HAS an AMEX already. Her SSN existed in 2005 when she got that one–suddenly AMEX can’t verify it???

    She needs to go higher on the food chain than CSRs (who are probably outsourced in India) and get a real explanation for how this came about. Perhaps a selectively targeted EECB to folks who might be able to see reason and logic.

    • Applekid ‚îÄ‚îÄ‚î¨ Ôªø„Éé( „Çú-„Çú„Éé) says:

      @The-Lone-Gunman: I’ll verify it. What’s her SSN? :)

    • bwcbwc says:

      @The-Lone-Gunman: If someone started spoofing her SSN since 2005, that would trigger the inability to verify. Odds are it means some foreign lady is going around using the OP’s SSN for employment purposes.

    • OneTrickPony says:

      @The-Lone-Gunman: It seems to me that it would be easier and almost guaranteed successful to just go down to the damn SS office and get the requested documentation, than to spend hours on the phone escalating things with CS or putting together an EECB that may or may not work.

  10. Platypi {Redacted} says:

    Inside big corporations, if you don’t want to do something, the convenient excuse is to blame it on SOX. “Due to SOX compliance issues, I can’t process that. Sorry.” It could have nothing to do with accounting, but departments will fling that out there any old time!

    • West Coast Secessionist says:

      @Platypi: I’m assuming in the healthcare industry you can substitute HIPAA.

      9/11/Patriot Act/Sarbox/HIPAA: Providing an unverifiable excuse for every purpose since, er, 9/11!

  11. HiPwr says:

    I’m not sure Angela should let this go. I would be bothered by this. Could there be some identity theft going on here some where?

  12. Anonymous says:

    how odd, last week I applied for an Amex and got the exact same letter etc…. but I did not get the 9/11 response when I called the helpline.
    What i did get was an unhelpful person telling me to go to the SSN office, and that the SSN office does this all the time for Amex card applications. I think this sounds more like a “make it harder and then you won’t have to deal with new customers, who may not have stellar credit ratings” .
    (side note: I don’t have a credit rating…)

    • usa_gatekeeper says:

      @YashwantHygieia: Yeah; CSR laziness is running rampant … while setting up a credit line, the bank told me their records search showed a $50k IRS judgment aganst me (What????) and it had to be cleared up.

      I asked for book and page numbers; it took me about 3 minutes to look up the info at the county deeds website, saw the judgment was against someone else (only the lasts names were same; different spouse name, different town, etc.). I printed the document and gave it to the bank. “Oh! Okay, then it’s not you.” Grrrr.

    • RandomZero says:

      @YashwantHygieia: Personally, I suspect it’s an Amex thing rather than a SS office thing – I work for a company whose customers mostly bill to Amex, routinely for anywhere from a hundred to a thousand dollars. We’ve always had a good relationship with them – until one day, a few months back, they decided to start making our accounting department manually phone in a certain percentage of transactions for “verification purposes”. (Given that these calls involved the EXACT SAME INFO that we were sending them anyway, the purpose of this is totally beyond me.)

  13. Keter says:

    You think that’s bad? Recently, I almost lost EVERYTHING due to new federal identity-proof requirements to get a job.

    After 10 months of unemployment in this terrible economy, I finally got a good job. I quit my previous job just before the economy tanked, in part because of ongoing harassment and identity theft by another employee. Among other things, my wallet was stolen out of my purse which was in my desk, and with it my driver’s license.

    When I went to replace the driver’s license, I was told I needed a birth certificate along with the social security card I still had because I don’t carry it with me – the copy of the license that had expired only three weeks earlier would not do.

    A couple of boxes of old records including my original birth certificate disappeared in my latest move, so I had to get a new copy. Only the county couldn’t find any record. Months went by with excuse after excuse, and finally they told me an entire block of records was missing, probably from years earlier, when they switched from microfilm to digital. Meanwhile, I was transacting business on an expired driver’s license, figuring that once I had an income again, I could hire an attorney to help me deal with the birth certificate issue since no one seemed able to give me a remedy.

    No one usually noticed the license was expired until I got this new job, and when they did, I just explained about the identity theft, and once I had to show the police report. Only it seems that the federal government changed the rules this April (2009) and no longer allowed employers to accept any expired documents, regardless of reason. I faced losing the job I desperately needed because of the theft I had experienced in my previous job and random bureaucratic incompetence.

    Desperate, I took a large pile of papers including income and property tax records, a divorce decree, and the police report down to the DMV, spoke with a supervisor, and got the license renewal I needed. It seems that since April, they’ve had to change the documentation rules because a LOT of wallet-theft victims were running into similar circumstances. Also it seemed that “someone” – probably the former coworker – had somehow changed the social security number associated with my driver’s license, and this was why I had been required to show the birth certificate (this was a complete surprise). It was left unexplained how this person had been allowed to change the SSN in the first place without showing similar documentation.

    A very disproportionate amount of the “show papers” fallout from 9/11 seems to be landing on law-abiding citizens who have been been victims of identity theft and/or bureaucratic bungling, yet states are now offering IDs to illegal immigrants just for the asking. My very scary experience shows that if things don’t change, we could end up with a permanent class of former legitimate citizens who have become non-persons simply because they get caught in a bureaucratic black hole and lack a required piece of paper.

    • HiPwr says:

      @Keter: I hope there were some legal reprecussions for your former co-worker. Could you sue him/her civilly?

    • trellis23 says:

      @Keter:

      Not sure what state your from, but this seems oddly extreme. In MA, if you lose your license you can just order a new one online. If you haven’t had a license or ID in quite some time, you need to provide proof of self, but not if you just misplace it or get it stolen. Even then there are ways around it. When my brother wanted to get a state ID and couldn’t get one because he didn’t have his SS card, and couldn’t get his SS card without an ID, all they ended up requiring was a letter from a doctor verifying he was who he said he was.

      Sorry, but giving up because it was “difficult” to get a new license is silly. And I don’t feel that bad that ten months after losing it, that you almost lost a job because you just seemed to think someone should just work it out for you. Sorry, but I’m all for them requiring two proofs of identity, if not more. The last thing I need is someone walking in to the RMV with my SS card and saying “I lost my license, give me a new one.”

      • wrjohnston19283 says:

        @trellis23:

        The license had expired at this point. I believe that in some states renewing an expired license is more difficult than renewing a valid license.

    • ageekymom says:

      @Keter: That sounds like a horrific experience! I hope things improve for you.
      I hadn’t heard that states were offering ID to illegal immigrants. What kind of id card and which states? Do you have a link I could follow?

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @Keter: Tsk, a sympathetic and well-written story, until: “yet states are now offering IDs to illegal immigrants just for the asking”.
      You realize that’s Fox News poppycock, right?
      Alternately, if you think not, please provide reputable cites.

    • WelcomeToMyWorld says:

      @Keter: If you were born in the USA, you can get a copy of your birth certificate from the capital city of your birth state. Each state calls it something different, like “Department of Births, Deaths and Records ” or some such thing. This info is easily searchable online.

      Write a letter to the state department, give your name (or maiden name), birthdate, birthplace, names and birthdates of your parents, and name of the Hospital where you were born, and they will search the records and send you a copy of your birth certificate. It costs less than $10 and normally takes a few weeks. Maybe you can even send your requests by email now, but I don’t know for sure. Good luck!

    • wrjohnston19283 says:

      @Keter:

      Keter – what you are talking about (i believe your new employer wanted to properly fill out an I-9 form, as the requirements for those did indeed change this spring) has less to do with 9/11 and more to do with the ongoing illegal immigration controversy. In the past, employers could accept a wider variety of documents. In order to cut down on the number of fraudulent documents that have expired, but were still being accepted, the government has cut the number of documents that are acceptable.

      This is a good reason for everyone to have a passport they don’t carry around with them – you can use that as proof of both identity and authorization for employment. Also (and I’m not blaming the OP here, just pointing out a good practice) when you move, put all your important documents in a separate folder and treat it like its filled with cash – don’t toss them in any random box and hope they make it.

  14. wcnghj says:

    Make them delete the inquiry atleast. It was a hard inquiry and those could hurt your score up to 7 points.

    • ShikhaCadimillac says:

      @wcnghj: Can/will they do that?

      Who do you ask to delete it, the credit reporting agency or the company making the “hard inquiry?”

      I ask because I went into a car dealership that I had previously purchased a car from just to have a look at the current models and when I gave the sales person my driver’s license so I could test drive a car, he used information (my SSN) from my previous purchase to run a “hard inquiry” of my credit report.

      Needless to say, that pissed me off and although my previous experience with the dealership was very positive, I have, and will never, step foot back in there because of what the sales person did.

      • Sudonum says:

        @ShikhaCadimillac:
        You have legal recourse against the dealer for running your credit without your permission. Unless you signed something authorizing them to do so.

        • ShikhaCadimillac says:

          @Sudonum: That’s just it. I did not sign a thing on day.

          I didn’t even realize it until much later when I ordered my credit reports from the bureaus and saw that the inquiry was on there and that it coincided with my visit to look at the new model cars.

          I didn’t pay it much attention since there were only two inquiries (other than the normal checkups done by my other creditors) in that last few years. I simply decided not to patronize that dealership anymore.

          In retrospect, I guess I should have filed a complaint, but I wouldn’t know where to start with that. (Other than Google of course.)

  15. Fist-oô says:

    It’s amazing the amount of headaches I avoid by not using CC’s.

  16. Cupajo says:

    If Angela is allowed to get the JetBlue American Express card (and therefore free peanuts on all JetBlue flights), then the terrorists win.

    • bwcbwc says:

      @Cupajo: Sorry, the Bush administration is over. That joke is no longer valid at this location.

      • Cupajo says:

        @bwcbwc: The Bush adminstration may be over, but it’s devotees are still milling about, watching Fox news and buying flag ribbons

        • Antiks says:

          @Cupajo: Yep, and Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, supports The Patriot Act.

          • From the cubicle of PGibbons says:

            @Antiks: Feinstein is just a Republican that needs to run as a “Democrat” otherwise she’d be back to hosting tea parties for her socialite friends and rich hubby real estate mogul Richard Blum in their Pacific Heights mansion.

            Cast from the same scummy mold that “Democrat” (oh, errr, “Independent”) Joe Lieberman crawled out of…

  17. HomersBrain says:

    I had a similar problem when I tried to get new phone service…Bellsouth said there was a problem because my SSN showed up on another phone account…turns out it was on my fathers phone’s account for some reason. He’d had the same phone for 30 years but now they had a new system.
    However, they accepted me faxxing in my SS card and that was verification enough. Wonder if the OP could do that ?…its a hassle but at least easier than going to the SS office and waiting.

    • Ragman says:

      @HomersBrain: Faxing in your SSN card? How easy would that be to spoof in photoshop!

      • HogwartsAlum says:

        @Ragman:

        Mine is laminated, and a hair got caught in the laminate. So it’s instantly verifiable with my DNA!

        • hedonia says:

          @HogwartsAlum: That’s weird, doesn’t it say right on the card that you’re not allowed to laminate it? Mine does, at least.

          • Ragman says:

            @hedonia: That’s what mine says as well. I laminated it. What the hell, I’ll have it the rest of my life, every employer will want to see it, and they give you something of less quality than a business card?

            • wrjohnston19283 says:

              @Ragman:

              Employers can reject a laminated SSN card as it is harder to tell if it is forged. I do agree that a thin paper card is a joke, but sadly, anything stronger than that become a “national ID” and god forbid we have those (I’m jealous of my coworker and her green card – the technology on them is amazing). I’m all for a national id card – one card to show to fill out the I-9, no more out of state liquor retailers thinking I’m 19 with a fake license.

  18. Pasketti says:

    “What happened to ‘for security reasons’ as a legitimate excuse?”

    I’m sorry, you’re not cleared for that information, because of 9/11.

  19. trellis23 says:

    Many years ago, I got a similar line from the telephone company. It’s important to ask why it can’t be verified. They didn’t offer the reason to me, but upon asking, they told me that they already had someone with an account with that SS number, but a DIFFERENT name. So yes, rather than give up on applying for the card, it is probably still important that you visit your local SS office to make sure that your SS is attached to you properly.

  20. OggJoshua says:

    9…

  21. DoctorMD says:

    Its OK because the lying sack of s$*t Franklin Roosevelt promised that the Social Security number would NEVER be used for anything except collection and distribution of Social Security Funds. But just like everything out of Washington for the last 100 years a TOTAL LIE.

    • krom says:

      @DoctorMD: this is FDR’s fault how? (I mean, other than “cuz libb rulls are commie lying scum”)

      • econobiker says:

        @krom: I think DoctorMD is refering to the number of the beast thing etc…

        ‘Course there were no digital databases back in the 1930′s…

        That said I am the proud possessor of a SS#s that has numbers 1-9 with no repeats. I only figured this out as a college student when I had to enter it in the touch tone phone key pad when banking by phone just started up.

        • krom says:

          @econobiker: I think the problem is that even if FDR did say that SSN numbers would never be used for anything other than SSA benefits, he was only president until 1945. It’s hardly his fault that subsequent governments (and countless businesses) have changed that.

  22. Prole says:

    If I were her, I’d just ask if I could fax them a W-9 (IRS form). Financial institutions use the form all the time to verify SSN.

  23. krom says:

    9/11 is the magic word of America’s new religion. But like all religious incantations, it’s magic is not very effective. Rudy Giuliani unwittingly proved this last August.

    nine*eleven: n. 1) A day of coordinated attacks against the United States in 2001.

    be*cause*of*nine*eleven: adv. 1) Unquestionable, beyond reproach, sacred.

  24. HogwartsAlum says:

    Interesting to note that when I started reading Consumerist, AMEX was da bomb, and everyone always said “Get an AMEX card,” “Oh, they’re the greatest,” blah blah blah and now every day almost there’s a story about how they suck.

    That was a hard, fast fall.

    • econobiker says:

      @HogwartsAlum: I think that they just tanked harder and quicker than the rest of the scum credit issuers. Obviously they do not have as good of a marketing group as their brethern credit issuers…

  25. seajane says:

    I don’t know why they would say 9/11 — but the real reason is likely the Red Flags Rules are part of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) of 2003 which went into effect last year. If your report has any SS# discrepancy — like it was issued before what Experion thinks your birthday date is, or if Expirion thinks that number was connected to another name (maiden name? or did you have a name change? or do you go by another name than the full name on your SS card?) — then a Red Flag is hit and you’ll have problems getting credit. It has nothing to do with 9/11 and everything to do preventing identy theft.

    • Lucky225 says:

      @seajane:

      Patriot Act which was passed in 02, requires financial institutions to verify SSN/Taxpayer ID on new accounts. This is where the ’9/11′ reason comes from.

  26. H3ion says:

    American Express online is very helpful, usually responding within 24 hours. I think this is the kind of inquiry I’d make online only because they can see that you are already a cardholder and work it out from there.

    I would ditto treliis23 post and check with your local social security office. You can probably get a duplicate card with proof of identity (like a passport)and you’ll at least get some comfort that someone else isn’t using your number.

    For bureaucracy run amok, we filed a license application for a physician. The state rejected the application because the name on the application was different than the name on the degree certificate. Fortunately, we had a copy of the marriage certificate and were able to convince a bureaucrat that sometimes people change their last name when they marry. Jeez.

  27. morlo says:

    I’ve been unable to open 4 checking accounts since the Patriot Act went online in 2002. Why am I not being waterboarded?! Meanwhile sleeper agents with all of the proper documentation are enjoying the American dream and serving in Congress.

  28. Lucky225 says:

    Let me tell you something about this. I was able to obtain an AMEX using 078-05-1120 (GOOGLE THIS SSN) back in 03, I did this as a test. Amex sent me the cards, let me activate them and even transfer a $4,000 balance. I had a $7,000 credit limit. 3 days later, I couldn’t even use the AMEX to buy a soda, their reason: “We can’t verify your SSN and we need it b/c of 9/11″ “Well shouldn’t you have verified that BEFORE mailing me a card, letting me activate it and transfering a $4,000 balance?” “Well uh, we can’t verify it so the account is now closed” “Oh, so I guess I don’t owe the $4,000 balance, since you can’t verify who I am?” “No you still owe any balance you put on the card.”

    • wrjohnston19283 says:

      @Lucky225:

      They still know who you are (assuming you used the correct name and address), but now in addition to going after you for the money, they can also go after you for fraud. Smooth.

  29. ilikev8 says:

    In 2007 AMEX was fined for 65 million for not having proper controls to prevent money laundering. BSA and “Know your customer” guidelines must be adhered with each new application. They most likely implemented tighter controls since 2005.

  30. twophrasebark says:

    “a letter on SS letterhead verifying my SSN”

    So a letter from Social Security is better than having an actual Social Card? Do they hand out cards without verifying who you are in the first place?

    • wrjohnston19283 says:

      @twophrasebark:

      Amex never saw the actual card- just the transmission of a number which was found (for whatever reason) to be invalid. By faxing them a letter from the SSA, they now know that Angela is the real owner of that number, not the 30 illegal immigrant who are also showing up in the database.

  31. twophrasebark says:

    I have feeling that if you get one of these letters it means that Amex has issued cards to more than one individual with your social security number.

    But because telling you that would, well, alarm the fuck out of you, they give a cryptic answer and then say, uh, could you help us determine who owns this SS number?

    • twophrasebark says:

      PS And yes, the credit reporting bureaus do create multiples files with the same SS number but different names. Also they don’t tell you if someone else creates a credit history with SS number.

      Something about 9/11 and privacy laws, apparently!

      • Lucky225 says:

        @twophrasebark:

        X2, as long as the name, dob and address doesn’t match yours the SSN can be whatever the hell you want, I think you’re right, now they’re trying to figure out who actually owns the SSN vs. the 50 other people they issued cards to.

  32. the_wiggle says:

    also a moratorium on “it’s the current economic situation” excuse as well??

  33. Anonymous says:

    I’m not 100% how this applies to credit card companies, but I work in the mutual fund industry and it sounds like this is the result of the Patriot Act. Basically, for all new accounts we have to verify a shareowner’s Name, Date of Birth, SSN and physical address (done by a 3rd party, probably one of the credit agencies). This is known as ‘CIP’ or Customer Identification Program’ and it applies to just about all financial institutions. Old accounts are grandfathered and are exempt, but to open a new account, the information has to match up. Most often the problem lies with a married woman never having updated her last name with social security.

  34. Anonymous says:

    My 86 year old mother had to get a state id on her birthday. Since she hadn’t driven in many years, when her drivers license wasn’t automatically renewed like previous years she decided to go down to the license bureau and get a state id instead of renewing the drivers license.

    After waiting 2 hours with an elderly woman on a walker the bureaucrat told her she needed her ss card to get the id. She had her current license which hadn’t expired and other papers since she had called ahead of time, but no ss id. She was told to go home- 45 minutes away and find some proof or go to the ss bureau 10 minutes away. We chose the ss bureau. Strangely they weren’t busy and 30 minutes later we had a paper from the ss bureau proving her ssn and returned to the drivers license bureau. What did she need as proof to get the new ss card? Her not yet expired drivers license!!

    • wrjohnston19283 says:

      @SahanaDius:

      My fiance had a similar experience at the mass RMV. She needed a registration and a drivers licenses (converting from CT). She can’t prove she lives in massachusetts (i own the condo and everything is in my name), so they wouldn’t give her a license. She does get the card registers (apparently they have no problem with illegal aliens having a car in massachusetts, you just can’t drive it). The guy who handles the registration knew she had trouble getting the license, and lets her know that now that she has proof of registration, he can give her a license. Mind boggling.

  35. PrestonBerryworth says:

    Maybe I can help, I work for a bank…please don’t hate me. Banks are required due to the patriot act to verify the identity of their customers. If you have an alert on your credit report showing that your ssn may belong to some one else then this is most likely the reason that amex won’t give you a card. This can happen very easily if someone who shares a ssn verify similar to yours writes it down wrong and your ssn gets input.

    The patriot act was put into place shortly after 9/11. So that is where that comes from. Either way a bank should have a ton of internal search tools to clear this with out paper work needed from you. Infact paperwork from the applicant is about the last thing a bank wants when trying to clear a potential fraud. It can be faked very easily.

  36. hi says:

    Angela should feel much safer now and should thank American Express for being so patriotic.

  37. Zuska says:

    When I was moving, I went to the bank and requested that my statements be forwarded until I could open an account where I was moving to. I was told that unless I could prove that I already lived there that they would not be able to do this. I did not have a rent reciept, a gas or electric bill ~ nothing that would make them happy.

    So, I went to my cell phone provider and requested that my cell phone bill be sent to my new address > no problem ~ and I then used that to prove to the bank that I had moved.

    Now, where is the security in that?

    • wrjohnston19283 says:

      @Zuska:

      Normally cell phone bills AREN’T accepted as proof of residence as they aren’t tied to a local address like a land line phone, electricity or gas bill is.

      Of course, I changed my address with all my banks online, and they then send a letter confirming the change to my NEW address stating to let them know if i had not changed it. Not one bank – ALL OF THEM.

  38. Jennifer Jordan says:

    I breifly worked for American Express and applied for a Blue card and was denied because they couldn’t verfiy my employment.

    Go Team AmEx.

  39. Anonymous says:

    The problem here is obvious: Amex has the wrong social security number for her – that’s why they couldn’t verify it. Call them up and ask what the social security number shows as in their system. Chances are some data entry drones entered it incorrectly. Doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure it out.