Let’s Stop Pretending Our Automated Systems Are Secure

We moved a few months ago–just to a different suburb–but that means a new address. My husband’s life insurance policy payment, with Prudential, was due, so I decided to pay it and call and change the address.

I knew there was a good chance that they wouldn’t be allowed to change the address because I am, in fact, not my husband, but I thought I’d give it a try while I was thinking of it.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that, I could, in fact, change the address without speaking to a human. Everything was going along swimmingly until the computer asked for the five-digit zip code.

This is an American policy and we live in Switzerland, land of the four-digit zip code. Curses. I needed an actual human.

The customer service rep, of course, wouldn’t change the address. I said I understood and asked to speak to her supervisor. I got a supervisor and asked why I couldn’t change it. “Security reasons, ma’am. You’ve said you’re not your husband.”

“But,” I said, “If we had moved to New Jersey instead of Switzerland, I wouldn’t need to talk to you. I could have just done it through the automated system.”

To keep reading, click here: Let’s Stop Pretending Our Automated Systems Are Secure

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6 thoughts on “Let’s Stop Pretending Our Automated Systems Are Secure

  1. Digital security is a joke for sure. I also handle the family finances in my house and I get into all the stuff in the my husband’s name all the time. He has a first name that is traditionally female (think Shannon, Lindsey, Dana, Jodie). They don’t even question it because they assume I’m the Shannon.

    I steadfastly guard my children’s Social Security numbers but even to get them registered for school I had to provide immunization records – which I can only get by giving their Dr. the SSN’s so they can transfer the medical records to our state health department. It’s scary that I can’t even keep my kids safe that way.

  2. Actually America has five-digit ZIP codes (not counting the extra four digits that are usually optional).

  3. Blockchain technology will not stop a simple social engineering attack. Anyone who claims that doesn’t understand the technology. If anything it makes systems less secure since it moves manual review by a pair of human eyeballs out of much of the transaction process meaning anything that does slip by will go longer without getting caught.

    1. Blockchain isn’t really about security in the first place. It’s about creating an indelible trail for transactions. There isn’t a digital security system that’s as secure as two people face to face who know each other, and there never will be.

      The alternative to the system described above is to have to do it in person, and today, in a world where instant gratification isn’t fast enough, we won’t be going back to that.

  4. I stopped using the over the phone system for payments/ bank transactions a while back mainly because the computer digital program can’t handle the requests I want.
    I feel your pain in trying to make changes as I just dealt with that problem over the summer with my own insurance. They failed to notify me that their phone number had changed and when I finally got in touch via email, it took them over 6 weeks because of the age of my insurance policy had begone prior to their fully digitalizing their system. I had to request a paper copy of the policy to finally get all the information. Both the computer voice system and the operator clerks could not help me because they had no access to older policies on their system. Once I had the correct policy information and the correct way to contact them, I set up the online account access so I could make direct payment. I was amazed they had the correct current address because of my bank account information but I did have to change beneficiary information which required filling out a form that needed to be notarized.
    Payments by digital means are set up via a special encrypted program. Contacting by phone is not.

  5. The security is a joke. Why is it easier to buy something online or over the phone than to make payments? If someone you don’t know wants to pay my bills, let them! Why is it easier to open new credit than to convince the bureaus you want to stop new credit from being opened?

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