What do you do when an organization wants your personal information?

Yesterday, I was asked by an organization I trust for my phone number, home address, and a couple other pieces of information they have no business knowing. When I want their services, I go to them and I don’t need to make an appointment, so I really can’t think of a valid reason they would need my contact information. When I asked the man why he requested it, he replied that he needed to put it into their computer system to make sure my records were up to date. To the best of my knowledge, he doesn’t know why they want this information, either; he elided the question because it’s just something he’s supposed to collect from customers.

I have experienced this on several different occasions. One of the more memorable ones was when I opened my bank account: the bank wanted my social security number, approximate yearly income, and a bunch of other information I really can’t justify their having. Have you experienced a similar problem? What did you do about it? My response has been to hem and haw for a while and then just give them the information to make everything go smoothly, but it’s never sat well with me, and I’d like to find a better way of dealing with this.

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2 Comments

  1. mikasaur2000 says:

    Well brokerages and banks and things like that like to know SS #s and income so that 1) they can accurately record your credit history and 2) so that they know what kind of financial situation you’re in. If you’re making $20,000/yr they know not to give you a $10,000 credit limit.

    But I’ve never been called and asked for that stuff out of the blue. I’d be weary about that. And if he wanted to make sure the records were up to date, you should have asked him what they were currently; if it was bullsh*t he’d probably hang up and try to con the next person.

    • Alan says:

      I agree that the bank would want these things if I were applying for a loan or a credit card or something, but this was a savings account. There was no line of credit involved, and I would be hard-pressed to overdraw the account. At the time, I asked the banker why she needed this information, and she gave a vague excuse about customer statistics and record-keeping, rather than anything related to what you suggest.

      Without getting into the details of yesterday’s events, this guy was not trying to con me. I called the company (not the other way around), and I’m quite certain that this wasn’t part of a scam. This was a trusted organization with which I would gladly have shared this information, had it been relevant to our interactions.

      The problem as I see it is that honest, upstanding companies want more and more data which they don’t seem to use for any purpose but record-keeping. My concern is that the more companies that have this data, the more likely one of them will make a mistake and give it to the wrong people or have it stolen.

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