Establishing identity (when opening an account) using questions

Spinning this topic off from the Best Nationally Available High APY Liquid Accounts thread.

The context is the use of questions by financial institutions to help establish identity by asking questions such as “Which of the following (if any) serviced your recent auto loan?”. These questions use information that can be obtained even when a credit freeze is in place.

I found it odd that Ally Bank used “Which of these is the closest hospital?” and one other reported getting that same question. Not only is the question somewhat ambiguous (in my case, it listed a hospital that was closed a few years ago), but it can easily answered by anyone willing to do a google maps search To wit glitch99 replied …

Yes, it is true of some other questions no doubt. As to the one about where is this address located, it is somewhat less obvious since it only shows the street name which in most cases doesn’t narrow it down much (e.g. “In what county is 291 Green Street where you once resided?”). I got that question regarding a place I lived 45 years ago!

IMHO these questions pose more of a burden on the legitimate person than the potential scammer. I do like that they can put some filter in place to establish identity even when credit records are frozen, but it sure is frustrating when the choices all appear wrong (and “None” is not a choice), or there is a choice that is arguably close to correct but not exactly.

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The best one I had was “what is your zodiac sign?”. And I’m like… I have no idea, I’ll Google it. (I did Google it and got it right, proving how useless the question was.)


Recently I called Ally and they kept suggesting that I create a secret question. I didn’t really want to do it but eventually I relented. It could be any question I want so my secret question is, “how long is your penis?”. Sorry they have to ask that question now but anyone who tries to access my account also has to answer that question, including myself.


One question asked me which interstate highway do I live closest to. I didn’t recognize any of them. I had to look on Google Maps to answer the question correctly, and they were all several hundred miles away.

Another question that pops up frequently is what address or county have you previously lived. It often brings up my parents address/county, but not my own. Except for visiting a few days, I don’t consider it living there. Makes me wonder how intermingled my credit report is with my parents, and what is the expected answer.

Based on my being asked about an apartment address I lived at 45 years ago, I suspect this information wasn’t from any credit report. None of my reports contain that address, nor any account open or closed that I had at that address. I expect the info came from Chex which knows about a checking account I had at that time.

Another possibility is LexisNexis, which has various databases, some of which are required to comply with the FCRA and some which aren’t. You can get a disclosure of all the FCRA reports and a disclosure of the non-FCRA Accurint report from them. It wouldn’t surprise me if they have other non-FCRA databases they are unwilling to disclose to the public. (AFAIK, unless some states require otherwise, there is nothing legally requiring them to provide consumer disclosures of non-FCRA reports like Accurint. They also don’t have to provide fraud alerts, security freezes, or the ability to dispute information in non-FCRA reports.)


What if it’s a really cold day?

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I feel pretty lucky. I have not gotten a question regarding anything older than 6 years. I have gotten one tricky question. It concerned a former address with four possible answers that were almost exactly the same (circle, ave, st., road). My memory is terrible, but my filing cabinet is close by. :slight_smile:

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This question had bothered me for a long time. Back 20 years ago the NY DOT allow one to used a bunch of credit card to establish one’s ID. The problem is there is no national ID system in the US and every time something like that is proposed some fruit cake come up and complain about personal privacy, big brother, brain-implant, etc…

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Or voting? /ducks


SSN and passport are national ID systems in the US.

I thought fruit cakes only complained about states rights.

Hello, I am 457-55-5462.

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A timely example of how these questions are stupid. I had recently answered the question “What is your source of income?” to which I listed investments and 401(k) proceeds.

Today, when establishing an account with (since Quizzle is going away), I had to answer the question “Which of the following is a current or previous employer?”. None of the above, no wait, could it be that they think “Investments 401 K Proceeds” is the name of my employer? Yup. That was the right answer