So I wanted to test some things with my Boost Mobile Motorola i730, but I haven't used it in probably 6 months, so I had to reactivate my account. Welcome to American pre-paid, by the way, in Europe you can go for a year without losing your phone number and account balance. Here it's common for 90 day maximums - I just had to do the same for my Virgin Mobile pre-paid phone as well.
Anyways, as I was going through the process over the phone, re-charging with my credit card, when the customer care rep said she needed to ask me some "security questions." I figured she'd ask me my mother's maiden name or the city where I was born or something, but after asking me for my date of birth and the last four digits of my social security number, she asks me to wait for a moment while the "system processes the info." System? What system? Then after a moment she says something like, "Okay, these are based on your 'background'," and proceeds to ask me three multiple-choice questions. The first was innocuous: which county was such and such address found in. She gave me three possible answers and also a "I don't recognize that address," which I chose because either I lived on a Parkway at some point in my life and don't remember it, or it was a dummy question.
But then it got really freaky. The second question was the "age range" of my a person named "Richard Beattie" and she gave me several choices (starting at age 45). Whaaaat? That's my Dad! WTF? Then she asked for my brother's age range as well (starting again, pretty close to the mark). You've *got* to be kidding me. This is the most obscene invasion of my privacy I've ever experienced from a random corporation that wasn't a potential employer. How the hell do they know who my Dad and Brother are in the first place?
There are so many levels to this it's amazing. Not only did I feel like my privacy had been unjustifiably invaded, but I honestly felt that there was almost an implied threat to their questions as well: Boost Mobile knows about my family. Seriously, that's how I felt. This is incredible to me. I can't imagine in what data source they got this from, my credit report? Yes, I've shared addresses with both of these people in the last, say 20 years, but to assume they could ask me questions about their ages? I've also lived with others as well, so what they only chose those people who I share a last name with? Is that it? That's the creepiest thing I've gone through ever, and I've crossed the US border recently, to give you a sense of comparison in terms of invasion of privacy.
Seriously, who the hell thought this was a reasonable series of questions to ask? Their ass should be fired. Today. I'm so mad I could kill.
Excuse me if I continue the rant and say this is classic mistreatment of the lower class by big corporations. Like those check cashing places (which should be illegal) and banks that won't give checking accounts to anyone with bad credit. It's no secret that Nextel targets inner-city residents, immigrants, and lower-income minorities with their Boost pre-paid brand. American Express would never dare to ask these sorts of questions to any of their clients doing a transaction over the phone with them (which ostensibly would be a much riskier transation money wise), but Boost has no qualms about butting into the private lives of of their younger and less-wealthy clientelle, all in the name of "fraud protection"
Fuck them. Really.