When we last left our friend Rick*, he’d been told that he could never open an ING Electric Orange account, and he was scrambling to figure out what company is giving out false information about his identity. Since then, ING Direct has responded to both Rick and myself.
Here is a portion of the email Rick received from the Ombudsman:
We received your email and we wanted to follow-up with you.
Since we are a direct Bank, we do not get to meet our Customers face-to-face. For your security, we ask questions to help confirm your identity. A third party creates the Identity Verification Questions using various sources that contain your personal history.
Please know that the information you are referring to comes from a third party database. ING DIRECT is unable to inform you of the third party vendor that we obtain this information from.
If you would still like to open an Electric Orange, our Customer Security Department will attempt to verify your identity through alternative means.
So, still no word on who the “third party vendor” is that Rick has to wrestle with. But, there’s hope in this email — it looked like Rick would be able to open an ING Electric Orange checking account after all!
Rick immediately called ING Direct, answered more security questions (ones that were actually accurate, this time), and was told that he was approved. It actually took a day for the approval to go through… because Rick himself had blocked it from happening. How? Why, that fraud alert he put on his credit reports because of this fiasco! Once that was cleared up, he received word that his new account is open.
ING Direct also responded to me directly, in a comment left on my previous post:
Hi Stephanie & “Rick”- Thanks for your passion about this. As a direct bank, we aren’t able to meet with all our Customers face-to-face so we need some security measures to safeguard our Customers’ personal account information & protect their accounts from any potentially fraudulent activity.
One of those measures is to ask a few questions at account opening to which only the Customer should know the answers. We give our customers two opportunities to answer these questions correctly, as Rick experienced, before an account can be opened. If a Customer can’t answer these questions correctly at that time, we are unable to confirm his/her identity and cannot open the account for him/her.
There are several companies out there (e.g. eBureau) that provide this service. They get their information from various sources including credit bureaus. (Your recommendation that people check their credit reports annually is important; however the verification process we use does not access your credit. In other words, Rick’s credit was not affected in this process.)
We’ll work with Rick to see if there was another issue that may be causing him a problem. Our intent is not to turn down business or cause our Customers grief. It’s to prevent them from having to deal with the pain of someone stealing their identity or worse, their money.
We wish Rick the best of luck in his new job, locating his license and looking for a new car.
More of the same, mostly, but a clue as to which “third party agency” we may be dealing with. I haven’t heard of eBureau, so whether or not that’s truly the company in question, I thank ING Direct for cluing me into another player in this field.
Lastly, Rick’s story was picked up in a Consumerist post, Man Says Byzantine ING Identity Verification Stops Him From Opening Account. The comments on that are worth reading: it’s a mix of hilarious commentary and commiseration from others who’ve been in similar situations.
Honestly, I still love ING Direct. I can understand their need to verify identities, and once brought to their attention, they handled this situation fairly well. What ultimately went wrong was having two customer service reps tell Rick that he could never ever open that account. It ended causing a lot of unnecessary grief, and it wasn’t even true.
Rick is, understandably, still sore about the situation. He’s not cancelling his ING Direct accounts, but he’s not their biggest cheerleader now, either. But when it comes right down to it, we’re gearing up to take down the real monster here: Mysterious Third Party Agency That Has Wrong Information About Rick. Oh, and the Post Office. Because losing someone’s license is really not cool, USPS.
*Rick is still not his real name. Although I think he’s warming to it and may legally change it to that. Or not.