A stupid way to combat fraud

We received a T-Mobile phone bill yesterday, delivered and addressed to someone we don’t know, but at our flat. Being a good-natured chap I decided to call customer services to do them the favour of correcting the information they held on their database.

I gave them our address and the name of the account holder, careful not to give them my own name for fear of the outstanding balance somehow becoming my responsibility. I explained that I’d never heard of this person, and if they could remove my address from their account then that would be great.

As far as I was concerned that was the end of the conversation and I could get back to a busy morning feeding the baby. They had different ideas, and got quite stern with me when I tried to end the call.

Firstly, they wanted me to declare that I didn’t know the person named on the bill. That was fine, as I don’t.

Secondly I had to declare that I have never entered into an agreement with T-Mobile. The thing is, before I switched to Orange they were my mobile network of choice, so I couldn’t declare this truthfully… but I did want to get to the end of the call, and after all they didn’t have my personal details, so I agreed.

Lastly, they wanted me to agree to them storing my personal information in their databases and sharing my data with other parties to prevent fraud! And that information would include my name, address, and mother’s maiden name!!

What kind of madness is this? To “prevent fraud” I have to give them my mother’s maiden name (obviously, the answer to a common security question), and in return they’ll give me nothing. I could understand them needing some kind of security question if, perhaps, I was becoming a T-Mobile customer, but not in this scenario.

Needless to say I refused, and just sent the bill back to them marked “not known at this address”. Serves me right for trying to do the right thing.

A footnote about security questions: I registered with Game today. Rather than asking for your mother’s maiden name, they allow a completely free choice for both your security question and answer. Inspired by PaulyG’s hilarious blog post on setting appropriate security questions, I now can’t wait to phone their helpdesk just to hear their confusion!