Concerned about identity theft, Seth had a fun time recently when he tried to get Sovereign bank to tell him why they need to record his driver’s license number when he withdrew $2.75. The teller kept saying, “It’s our policy,” but even when they finally showed the policy in writing, it only said “must record form of ID” and nothing about writing down license numbers.
- As the teller was completing my transaction, I noticed her copying my driver license number.
“Excuse me,” I said. “Can you please not write that down? I’m not really comfortable with my driver license number being written on my withdrawal slip.”
“I’m sorry, that’s bank policy,” she said.
“Well, um, you saw my license. You know it’s me,” I said. “Why do you need to write down my license information? Identity theft is a really big problem these days.”
“That’s our policy,” she said.
“Can I see the policy? I’ve asked before and I’ve never seen it. It seems like every branch seems to have a different interpretation,” I said. “So I’d really like to see it.”
At this point, the employee next to the teller, who turned out to be a customer service manager, decided to “help” with the situation…
- “This is our policy. If you don’t allow us to record that information next time, you can’t withdraw funds,” the manager informed me.
I explained again that I didn’t see any reason to record this information since the bank now knew who I was. In addition, it was bad practice in protecting customers from identity theft. Before he could explain again that it was “policy,” I said I wanted to see the policy. In writing.
This is when things became, well, pretty lame, in my opinion.
After waiting for a bit, the manager produced some documents, which in a fit of apparent pique, he spent some time highlighting with a yellow marker.
For a moment I actually thought I was going to be shown some piece of bank literature which plainly stated Sovereign’s policy, something I had carelessly discarded from my statement.
But the manager handed me a sheet which said at the bottom:
Must record form of ID.
“This says you must record my form of ID,” I said. “Where does it say you have to write down customer’s license number? Or any other personal information?”
“Sir, what if there was a problem with this transaction? How then would we be able to prove it was you?” said the manager.
I was a little dumbfounded. “I guess you could have a policy where you carefully check the person’s identification,” I volunteered. “And then you could say, ‘We have a very strict policy of checking people’s ID.'”
I didn’t want to mention that writing down my license number proved nothing or in fact that writing down my number could actually … well, you get the idea.
I noticed the manager had taken back my copy of the policy. I said there was no point in going around in circles and asked for the policy back so I could complain.
“I can’t give that to you,” he said. “It’s an internal document.”
“How are customers supposed to know what the policy is?” I asked. “Is this a secret policy?”
“I just told you,” he said.
Again, I asked for something showing the policy so I could draft a complaint.
“I can’t give this to you. What if we change it in two weeks?”
Ah. I really felt like I was starting to understand why… I never seemed to understand Sovereign’s security policies. I noticed that the tellers were now whispering to each other and looking at me, so I decided to take my tinfoil hat and leave. But that wasn’t before the manager looked at me and said: “Sir, you have to trust us.”
Seth is right to contest places unnecessarily writing down his personal information, and writing it down on an insecure document. Identity theft is rampant, and it’s thanks in good part to places like this asinine bank. — BEN POPKEN