for security purposes

A prank call transcript from ZUG.

What happens when you ask a credit card company the same security questions they ask you?

VISA: …And for security, I just need your mother’s maiden name?

JOHN HARGRAVE: [I tell him] And Barry, for security purposes, I also need your mother’s maiden name.

VISA: Uh … my mother’s maiden name, sir?

JH: Uh-huh.

VISA: OK. Uh … please hold for a moment, sir.

[Hold time of 3:54]

VISA: Yes, thank you for holding. This is cardmember services, my name is Isabelle. May I have your 15-digit card number, please?

JH: Sure. [I give it to her] What happened to Barry? I was just on the phone with him and then there was a very long pause.

VISA: OK, for some reason you got transferred to the fraud department. I’m going to have to transfer you back to customer service.

JH: The fraud department?

VISA: Yeah. Maybe there was just a mixup or something. Maybe they, you know…

JH: It’s very confusing and a little bit degrading to be transferred to the fraud department when I’m just trying to up my credit limit.

VISA: I know, I apologize. But maybe a, maybe a wrong button was hit, or something happened like that. Maybe a computer glitch or something. So I’m going to transfer you back to customer service. I think the hold is about 4 or 5 minutes, because I just transferred another person there, OK?

JH: All right.

VISA: All right. Thank you, Mr. Hargrove. Please hold for customer service.

[Hold time of 6:35]

VISA: Thank you for calling credit card services. My name is Nokia. May I have your name?

JH: Nokia, hi. This is John Hargrave. I’m looking to increase my credit limit.

VISA: Thank you. And for security reasons, can I have you please verify your mother’s maiden name or password?

JH: My mother’s maiden name?

VISA: Yes.

JH: [I tell her]

VISA: Thank you. And you’re saying that you wanted a credit line increase, is that correct?

JH: Right. For security purposes, can I have your mother’s maiden name?

VISA: [Very long pause]

JH: Hello?

VISA: Hello?

JH: Hello?

VISA: Yes. [Pause] The decision to increase your credit line may be made immediately, or…

JH: I’m sorry, I just, I need your mother’s maiden name in order to continue.

VISA: Mr. Hargrave, is there anything else I can help you with today?

JH: I … I’d like to increase the credit limit.

VISA: OK, and you requested my mother’s maiden name?

JH: For security reasons, I have to have that before we can go on and complete the transaction.

VISA: OK, well, if I ask for your mother’s maiden name, it’s to access your account. What are you trying to access that you need my mother’s maiden name for?

JH: I’m sorry. The Customer Rights Act of 2005, just passed by Congress, allows me to ask you up to eight clarifying questions about your identity when conducting a telephone transaction. You guys haven’t been trained on this?

VISA: If I give you my mother’s maiden name, how are you going to be able to verify that information?

JH: Well, next time I talk on the phone, I have your name and your mother’s maiden name and it helps to prevent identity theft. You know, the well-known cases recently where, ah, people were “phonejacked.” Basically, they were routed into a sophisticated call center.

VISA: I can give you my first and last name and the call center I work for.

JH: OK, that’s great.

VISA: I will not give you my mother’s maiden name.

JH: OK, first and last name?

VISA: Nokia Russo.

JH: Uh-huh.

VISA: In Columbus, Ohio.

JH: OK. In Columbus, Ohio, great.

VISA: OK, and…

JH: And for security purposes, I have to ask you to create a secret word or pass… [I start to lose it] …passphrase. It can be up to seven characters, and you want to think of something that’s, that’s difficult to guess. For instance, you don’t want to use your birthdate.

VISA: Unfortunately, at this time I will be unable to continue this phone call conversation. I’m going to release the call. Thank you.

JH: Hello? I can have our system…

VISA: I’m uncomfortable at this time going through with this conversation.

JH: Why?

VISA: I gave you my first and last name and the site I work for. I can’t give you any more information at this time.

JH: Well, we’re just going to create a secret word or passphrase. If you’d like, I can have our system automatically generate one for you.

VISA: If you want me to continue with this phone call conversation, I will just need to go ahead and continue with what is concerning your account.

JH: OK. All right, let’s increase the credit line.

VISA: What would you like your credit line to be?

JH: [I say a very large number]

VISA: Can you hold one minute while we process your credit line inquiry?

JH: Sure. I’m going to go ahead and have our system create a passphrase for you. But go ahead. You do that.

[Hold time of 4:32]

VISA: Thank you so much for holding for me.

JH: Sure, no problem Nokia. Here’s the passphrase, if you could write this down. It’s capital B, zero, zero, lower-case b, lower-case z, exclamation point, exclamation point. We’ll use that in future communications between us, so please write it down and store it in a secure location.

VISA: [Pause]

JH: Um … could I have the name of your first pet?

VISA: [Angrily] I will be unable to answer any other questions.

JH: Do you have the time?

VISA: Sorry?

JH: Do you have the time?

VISA: 1:49 pm, eastern standard time.

JH: Well, there you go. I mean, you answered another question.

VISA: I said about myself. That is not about myself.

JH: Oh … OK. I didn’t get that.

VISA: Thank you, sir. You have a nice day. [She disconnects me]

RECORDED MESSAGE: Thank you for calling! If you feel you were disconnected in error, please call back. We apologize for any inconvenience.

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