I never give security details or personal information out to unexpected, unknown callers. Nationwide asked me to do just that yesterday. I believe this is appalling as it risks changing behaviour and makes it easier for the real fraudsters.
And it’s not just the simple fact it asked for my security details. At every step of the way its policies are similar to those who try to defraud consumers.
The key problems…
- Caller refused to give their name. The Nationwide lady called MSE Towers and asked to speak to me giving her first name. When the member of the MSE team who answered the phone asked for her full name she said: "I am not at liberty to give you that."
- She wanted my security info. The MSE team member put her through to me, at which point she told me it was Nationwide and she told me she would need to put me through some security checks. I replied saying: "I’m sorry, I never give personal information to people on the phone."
Of course, she may have just wanted one or two characters from my password combined with other questions. Yet all this contributes to the risk of ID fraud.
- She wouldn’t tell me what it was about. I then asked: "Can you tell me what this is about please and if it is suitable I will call you back." She refused, saying again she couldn’t say any more. So it’s fine for me to give my personal info, but not to give me any clue of the nature of the issue – even whether it’s a sales call or processing issue.
- There is no alternative method of contact. I then asked: "Do you have an alternative method of contacting me, either via email or secure message through your online banking so I can see what this is about?" Her reply: "No, I can’t do that either – we only ever call, we do not have any other system." (This bit was confirmed later.)
I then told her I would ring back. I didn’t want her to give me a phone number, so I went directly to the Nationwide website – after all, were it a fraudulent call, her giving me the number wouldn’t be any protection.
Why I got so annoyed
The truth is, by the end, I was pretty sure this was Nationwide. She made all the right noises (though I may be fooling myself that I’m savvy enough to tell the difference) and indeed, when I called through using the customer service number, the person confirmed it was a genuine call.
Yet we’re constantly warned to be vigilant about our personal information and security passwords to prevent ID fraud. However, that message becomes heavily diluted when legitimate banks and building societies ask for it when it suits them.
They can’t have it both ways. I am going to start investigating the various banks policies on this. Were someone to have given out their details to someone pretending to be a bank they run the risk of being held liable due to negligence.
But if the fraudster is saying it’s a financial institution that routinely asks for security details, in my view, that institution is culpable.
Has it happened to you?