Rick recently moved and needed to set up a checking account quickly, so he went with ING, the online bank with which he already has a savings account. He tells personal finance blog Poorer Than You, the bank wouldn’t give him account because it couldn’t verify his identity.
He wrote this letter to ING, about the process of setting up the account (which Poorer Than You blogger Stephanie permitted us to reuse):
Once I connected with the representative, I provided my current address, phone number, date of birth, and [Social Security Number], as well as my ING Direct pin.
The final step, I was told, was a series of multiple choice questions which would complete the identification process. I answered the first two, both of which were applicable to me. The last three concerned a person with whom I am not familiar, so I answered accordingly. When the representative put my answers into the system, she informed me that, based on answering too many of them incorrectly, I would never be permitted to open an Electric Orange account. [emphasis added]
I thanked the representative and hung up. Assuming (erroneously, as I would find out) that the check was performed through one of the three credit bureaus, I immediately began contacting them, requesting copies of my credit report, and attempting to question the information they required for identification purposes. I cleared two of the three credit reports with no problem – the third will arrive in the mail, but based on my later interaction with ING, I suspect it will be clean as well.
Having used up my available routes, I decided to inquire further with ING regarding the identification process. I called the same security department phone number and talked with another representative. This time, I explained the entire situation again, including my efforts to check my credit. She explained that the identification procedure is not conducted through a direct credit check with any of the three credit bureaus. Instead, a third party company produces a series of questions that they believe will positively identify me. When I asked whether I could contact the company directly, or provide alternative forms of identification, she claimed that there was no other manner by which I could disprove the answers to the questions and prove that I am, in fact, myself. [emphasis added] The representative gave me this email address as a point of contact for continuing with this issue.
So, the apparently unchangeable bottom line is: there exists a company whom I have never explicitly authorized to store my personal information; this company is responsible for determining whether or not I know enough about the unverified information that they maintain to conduct business with their client. The company does not accept corrections to the information, and may at any time in the future damage my ability to establish relationships, financial and otherwise, with other organizations.
I view this matter as a very serious breach of my trust in ING as an organization.
The internets are filled with ING love stories, and I banked with them for a few years without any trouble before I switched over to Emigrant Direct. Is Rick’s tale an aberration, or have any of you had trouble with ING or other online banks?