Last weekend I was getting a new hosting account set up with a new web site hosting company that was recommended to me. I’m starting to get things set up for a new Internet project that I’m working on – unrelated to Paper Shredding… But I Digress.
Everything went smooth with entering all my details on-line including my credit card information.
This actually took place last Saturday so I figured I would hear back from the company the following Monday that everything was now set up and I could start using my account.
But strangely enough I received an email from a “technician” which stated the following:
Before we can approve your new hosting account,
please fax the following into our offices:
1.) Credit card used to sign up the account
2.) Photo ID of the person's name on the credit card
Please fax this to:
ATTN: New Accounts
Once we receive this information we will immediately
process this order.
If you do not have access to a fax machine, you can
also scan this information and attach it to this email.
A number of things immediately started coming to mind about how weird this is…
I’m not new to ordering stuff on-line… As a matter of fact, I do it all the time – sometimes for large dollar value items.
Strange enough, this purchase was actually a relatively low cost item.
And since I run a Secure Paper Shredding Company, I’m so stranger to ID Theft – I hear these stories all the time. Not to mention my company checking account was hacked for a few grand last year!
So here is how I responded:
Why do you need this information?
This email seems odd… Real close to losing the sale!
The next day, Sunday (which I also found surprising), I received the following response:
Thank you for contacting us back
This is to protect both the security of "COMPANY NAME"
and of it's customers (or soon to be customers in your case)
to prevent fraud orders. If you are worried due to security,
you can cover up all the numbers but the last 4 digits on
the credit card as they are the only ones we need for
verification. I hope that helps and if there is anything
else we can do for you please feel free to let us know. We
are here to help with anything else you might need.
Thank you for your time.
At this point, this company gets kudos for having some pretty good customer service. But still being worried about their security measures, I replied with the following on Monday:
I’m hesitant to even send a copy of the credit card with the account number blocked out except the last 4.
In No Way will I send a copy of my driver’s license.
Just to let you know, I’m the owner of a Secure Shredding Company in San Diego and I take ID Theft Extremely Serious. Also, I’d like to think I am a little more knowledgeable about ID Theft and the laws that are in place to prevent it.
I suggest you take a look at your company’s written “Red Flag” rule policy for preventing ID Theft. This policy is Mandated by the FTC and since you are requiring such sensitive items from customers, there has to be a written policy in place ensuring these documents, once received, are handled properly and then destroyed.
Also, if your Visa/MasterCard Merchant Account agreement is anything like mine, you also know that requesting picture ID to accept a credit card violates that agreement. I assume you take a lot of credit card payments via the Internet, putting your merchant account in jeopardy doesn’t seem like a wise idea.
There must be other ways to verify the legitimacy of a new account – the way you decided on is extremely inappropriate.
When I opened a hosting account on GoDaddy this wasn’t a requirement. I see a big billboard behind my office for Host Gator and I wonder if they also require this type of account verification.
In any event, you’ve given me “fodder” for my next blog entry on ID THEFT.
Depending on how you respond to this email will determine whether I can trust your company any further or simply ask for a refund. (The amount is already pending in my account.)
CEO & President
Total Secure Shredding, Inc.
When Security Matters Most
3584 Hancock St.
San Diego, CA 92110
Toll Free: (800) 536-4832 x750
Office: (619) 295-5474
Direct: (619) 889-7518
Fax: (866) 669-0729
Since I’m sure they don’t get many emails like this from Owners of Shredding Companies, this email was followed up with a phone call from the company from a live person who simply asked to confirm the last 4 digits of the account number on the credit card I used to purchase the web site hosting account – Nothing more, Nothing Less – Which seemed to be a reasonable request without me having to give up valuable personal information.
Again, I give this company credit for having some pretty impressive customer service…
The point of all this is that nobody should ever ask you for a photo copy of your ID and your credit card when making any type of credit card purchase. And even if they do, they better have damn good reason for asking…
With ID Theft being so rampant these days, you cannot take any risks with your personal information – no matter what you may be purchasing – the potential costs of ID Theft are way too high.
I hope this serves as a good reminder to you all to protect any and all of your personal information…
And also, maybe my email served as a good lesson to this company, which appears to be a very good company and in the end earned my business, to not take requests for personal information so lightly.
Until Next Time…
Keep Totally Secure,