Zach ordered a netbook online from Dell, then got a call from a customer service rep who wanted to verify his identity for the order. He was stumped as to why the company needed to give his birthday and last four digits of his SSN.
I feel good about Dell verifying orders, even as small as $500. Plus, it’s good business. I was definitely not prepared, however, to be asked by the Indian call-center rep my birth date and the last four digits of my SSN!
I would guess a verification phone call requires confirmation of addresses, phone numbers, email, and maybe credit card numbers and codes. She asked for the pertinent information, but she didn’t ask me to confirm my credit card number.
When she asked for my date of birth, I immediately asked why. She said it was for verification purposes, and of course knowing that I had never given Dell my birth date, I asked her how she planned to verify that information? She said she had that information right there in front of her, and I asked her what it said. Of course she wasn’t going to divulge that to me because she was performing a verification!
After a couple more rounds, she finally relented and said I was able to verify my order with the last four digits of my SSN. What?!? Now, I can imagine how Dell might have obtained my birth date. It’s possible I put it in when I created my website account (though I usually use the same false birth date on insignificant sites for obvious reasons). But I know darn well that I never gave Dell my SSN for any reason whatsoever. Ever!
I told her I refuse that information and we went rounds again, finally culminating in my telling her that I’ve had higher-priced items sent to my office using the same credit card several times before, and nobody ever bothered to question or verify the order, and that I would never agree to divulge that information to Dell for any reason. Once she looked at my previous orders, and after I told her that she could cancel the order if she insisted on my most-personal information, and after nearly 45 minutes of holding and haggling, she verified the order and sent it to production.
What on earth is Dell doing with this information? Why in the world are they asking for birth dates and SSNs? Isn’t it technically illegal for Dell to be asking for an SSN, especially considering that Dell is not checking credit reports (I hope), or offering credit (except through Dell Financial Services, which I’ve never used)?
It never hurts to give everyone here a reminder that just because a business asks for this information, it doesn’t mean
that they are entitled to it or that you should tell them.
Whatever Dell wants with Zach’s birthday, I’m betting it’s not to send him a present. If you’ve got an anecdote about any other corporations asking for TMI, leave it in the comments.