Posts tagged security

Security? No way!

Well, i SHALL write about it. The event, incident, THING: even though i am pretty sure that Tesco, who are a generally decent firm when it comes to customer handling, will sort me out…will apologise profusely and will more or less go thru the right sort of motions.

Until the next time.

Which is why, as well as personal experience, this is also question, for anyone else who might be affected one way or t’other by this mock security affectation that some companies seem to have.

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Giant leaps forward on name change

Well, that went well. Very well. All in all, it suggests that I may finally have a good chance to get something done about the scandal that is name change procedures in the UK. Read the rest of this entry »

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The wisdom of children

As always, tis the boy’s reaction to my activities that is the most amusing and, dare i say it, insightful. Read the rest of this entry »

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Trans Finance Watch?

Another day, another horror story. This one about the Co-op. But I’m not sure that’s relevant. Over the last couple of years, i’ve had my own share of run-ins with the megacorps that make up UK financial services: Barclays, Lloyds, the Halifax, Zurich Insurance.

And because i write about this stuff and am prepared to help others out when they have issues, i’ve also taken up cases with Equifax, Experian, Barclays, Nationwide…the list seems never-ending. Has the time come for a Trans Finance Watch, along the lines of Trans Media Watch, to take on a sector of business that seems utterly – and persistently insensitive, discriminatory and…well, just plain hypocritical when it comes to dealing with the trans community?
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Bankers: equal opps discrimination in respect of women

I’ve always regarded this name change thingy as not just a trans issue, but one that affects women in general too. If you’d like a bit more evidence of that, below is a guest post from partner, andrea, detailing her own experiences in name change.

I think it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that whatever bank employees think they are doing, it has bugger all to do with security – and far more to do with ticking bureaucratic boxes and covering the banks’ collective backs against allegations of money laundering. Read the rest of this entry »

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News Feed: Canada bans trans people from flying

Canada is now officially a transgender no-fly zone.

This is the result of new rules, introduced last July, but only now coming to light, which state that an air carrier “shall not transport a passenger if …the passenger does not appear to be of the gender indicated on the identification he or she presents”. Read the rest of this entry »

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The big corporate lie: its called “customer security”

It may be that i have got it wrong over this name change lark. No: not the principle. Rather, the general approach. Because i have made the mistake of approaching big business (and financial institutions) as though they are reasonable types, who would rather not humiliate and mistreat their customers. When in fact they are all, mostly, a bunch of bastards.

And the bottom line is, really, the bottom line.

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Bureaucracy I: poking the dragon

I am now clearing the decks. I have started to do so, work-wise. I am also beginning to clear up the various bits of household bureaucracy that urgently need attending to before 12 July. Not at all aided or abetted by the fact that for some reason half the year’s big bills seem to land in April/May (Water, TV License, MOT, car insurance, car tax, etc.).

Some of this is likely to be plain sailing: some, the inevitable dealing with an eternal round of gcse-challenged jobsworth’s, who seem to think that following a system, whilst doing nothing to progress matters to a result is the way to foster good customer relations.

nPower do it again!

Let’s start wth two old favourites. First off – oh dear! – step forward nPower. Now I don’t have it in for them. I really don’t. We’ve had our ups and downs, our spats and yes, I did take them to court last year.

But for now, we’re mostly friends. For now, of course, covers the bit where I warned, arnie-style, that “I’d be back” if they didn’t sort out their identity document policy in the next two years.

Otherwise, though, I quite like them. They do try (see: I even resisted the temptation to go for the naughty double entendre and write that they “are trying”!). And if I have any sort of view of them at all, it is as slightly dotty maiden aunt, given to wandering the streets at 4 in the morning feeding pigeons in her nightie. That is, she’s wearing the ngihtie, the pigeons aren’t… oh, you know what I mean.

Basically, they are big. Not quite NHS-size. But one of the UK’s megacorps. So it would be surprising if we didn’t bump occasionally.

Failed security procedures

But back to the story. They are changing their billing system. Which means I have just got one joint (gas and electric) bill covering approx 7 months of use. The first time I’ve ever had a utility bill that stretched significantly into four figures. Ouch!

Still, I rang to pay it. Gave my name and then started to give credit card details. By way of courtesy, I mentioned it was in my old name. I am still waiting for Equifax/BHS to pull their fingers out and issue the one in my new name! And that was a no-no.

They can’t take payment for one account from a credit card in another name. Huh? Bu-ut… I had the card here. Number, issue date. Security code. Sorry. No can do.

I exited politely and, er, phoned their automatic billing system. Which instantly took all of the above details, with one exception: the name. Sorted.

But at the same time, a slight fail for nPower security. Either they are trying to protect individuals from their nearest and dearest using their card – in which case, they would NOT offer the automated option. Or they haven’t thought it through much.

Maybe there’s some legal tweak: if one of their operators took the card details and it was fraud, they’d be liable: whereas if their computer did so automatedly, it wouldn’t be. I doubt it though. So come on, nPower. Think about it!

BT Colonial Calling

Next up, BT. I suspect, BT India since the call was handled by an eager young man with an Indian accent and poor command of English.

That’s an important qualification. Because, thinking about it, it might be racist to presume that anyone with a particular accent is based in India (or Romania or Poland for that matter). But, in general, call centres populated by accented persons and based in Birmingham or Leicester do tend to boast a much better command of the basic language.

So-o. After much battling, BT finally got my name on the bill in BOTH name fields (online and paper) and spelt it right. No. Not Fay. Not Faye. That’s “Fae”. Thank you.

And then they started chasing me for a bill they hadn’t sent. Huh? Have I suddenly been opted out of paper bills. Apparently not, as the young man eventually confirmed. Though it took a while.

Bad BT!

The first hint I hadn’t received a bill was some automated BT number calling me and asking me to phone them back and identify themselves. Er, fail. Massive fail! This is exactly how ID scams work – and, as I have written for a paper in a fairly serious journal, by adopting this approach, BT are actually lending credence to phishing and vishing scams that work this way.

Basically – and this is advice from both the Met and the Card Issuers Association: do NOT give out personal info to organisations that call you and/or ask you to call them back.

Sadly, at BT, this approach is deeply ingrained into their way of doing business.

High Comedy at the call centre

So, I phoned their general number to ask if they’d stopped billing me. “Oh”, a spike milliganesque voice replies: “you would like me to stop your bills”.

Er, no. Could you check. “Oh, yes”. (I shall have to stop this: the dialogue really was the stuff of racist comedy circa 1970, and it was clear that the operative was only getting every other sentence).

Finally he got it. He would check what had happened. Not only. He would go off and check. The line went silent, as he departed with the jolly sign-off “I am very much looking forward to this, Miss Fae”.

Really? I giggled.

Things were, I hope, sorted. He is sending me a copy of my non-arriving bill and he is doing it free of charge “as a special favour to you, Miss Fae”.

Still, I don’t like this sort of exchange. Accents are fine, so long as they don’t cross the line into unintelligible. But simply “having English” is not good enough. The grasp of the language needs to be sufficient that an operator can go off script (unlike the Equifax lady in the Philippines) without descending into chaos. This operator JUST managed that. Some don’t.


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A rose by any other name…

Yay! I am officially me! That is, i am Jane Fae. Miss! But i’m getting that changed, too (to Ms). And all it took was one phone call.

So what’s up? Those who know me well will be aware of one small bee that keeps buzzing around my bonnet. It has to do with name changes and identity – something that always irritated me long before i began to transition.

Because, in english law, the simple fact is: your name is what you are called. If i happened to go around calling myself Lady Sutch – and so long as i wasn’t doing so for pecuniary gain or fraudulent purposes – then i am allowed to. And if i call myself that long enough and am known by that name to enough people, that IS my name.

Oh, but hang on. What about money laundering? What about banks and boring finance people? Well, they need to know my identity: but i am not at all clear that identity and name are at all the same thing.

Proof of identity is proof that i am me. Huh? Well, proof that i am the person who is entitled to all the things, including benefits, insurance cover, pension, etc. that i – who am currently called Jane Fae – am entitled to. Likewise, that i am entitled to access certain private information when i phone the bank and that i can move money and pay cheques and all that razzamatazz.

I prove that every time i phone my bank…allegedly by quoting my date of birth, mother’s maiden name, and secret information. Hey presto! I am me, and they are happy to do business. But not, apparently, to recognise that i am still me if i should dare ask to be called by another name.

Oh: then the excuses come out! Duty of care. Security. Protecting my interests. What a load of poppycock. If the info i give to them is good enough to trade under, then it is good enough to change name by – and i am not going to go to the bother of getting deed polls, statutory declarations or any other document to prove it.

And today: proof that i am me is good enough for the Inland Revenue. One short call: my name is changed forever (if i wish). And irony of ironies: my bank, that cannot possibly comprehend changing the name on my account without all the aforementioned fuss and documentation would be more than happy to take me on as a NEW customer if i turn up with a current tax document bearing my name.


Now over to my serious column to see what else i am going to be doing about this!


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