Meter Readings and voice recognition privacy

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I rang Scottish Power the other day to update my meter readings. Expecting to be asked for my Account number I had it ready.
I was surprised to be answered by a voice recognition system that asked whether I was the account holder, then whether I was ringing from the account address, and "as a security measure" it asked for my date of birth! I was then automatically asked for the meter readings. At no time was
I asked for the Account number.
How and why is an electricity company able to confirm my account details and my date of birth automatically. I have never given them my date of birth nor should it be relevant
.
Why should whoever is behind the system be given instant access to my details just on the basis of an automated phone call without my permission?

I am really upset at this total lack of security and privacy.
I haven't yet tried what happens if I deliberately give incorrect details - hopefully the system implodes.
What is going on? Is everyone now under surveillance?

Comments

  • monsteruk
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    How long have you had the account? Are you absolutely certain you (or your partner/housemate) never ever provided them your date of birth at any point, even many many years ago?

    The system will be operated by Scottish Power, so it'll have access to the same details a real person would if you called one. It's extremely likely that your phone number is attached to your account, so the computer will find it that way, then confirm it with your date of birth.

    I'm extremely careful about my privacy, but I don't see any issue here, apart from the risk of someone borrowing my landline while round my house and submitting false meter readings....
  • Cardew
    Cardew Posts: 29,038 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post Rampant Recycler
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    Have to agree with the post above.

    It is not mandatory for you to have such an account.

    Incidentally having checked you out from your registration on this site, I am rather surprised you require such a large overdraft facility on your bank account;)

    Big Brother Nah!!!
  • Garland2
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    I have not had the account long as I changed suppliers to save money about a year ago. No-one else has access to the information. It would seem that the Scottish Power system automatically reads the phone number and gets the account number which I can accept. After all giving a post code brings up an address. But my date of birth? Surely not.
    This is all very recent as I have phoned in meter readings for many years both to this company and others (mainly because although they all promise to come and read the meter they don't) and have never been asked a security question before by a machine or a human. I really hesitated, thinking it might be some sort of scam.
    We are constantly reminded to be vigilant about security on web sites but there seems to be a black hole here.
  • Premier_2
    Premier_2 Posts: 15,141 Forumite
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    When you sign up for a Scottish Power account, they ask you for your date of birth
    "Now to trolling as a concept. .... Personally, I've always found it a little sad that people choose to spend such a large proportion of their lives in this way but they do, and we have to deal with it." - MSE Forum Manager 6th July 2010
  • monsteruk
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    What Premier said.

    Also, how can it be a scam if you called them? (Assuming you got the number from the bill or website or whatever).

    Relax :)
  • Trune
    Trune Posts: 66 Forumite
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    what on earth are you complaining about?
    most companies keep these details, have you heard of data protection act.

    and are you sure they dont identify you by the phone number your calling from? then the date of birth, as they say, to confirm your identity.

    just manage the account online if you dont like it, but i really dont see the issue. They have data protection act to stick to, and its in place for reasons like this.
  • WhistleBlower
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    Most of the accounts i work on have customer's DOB's on....

    To be honest i'd worry more about them getting my bank details which are (to me anyway) far more sensitive. Not a whole ton they can do with my date of birth.
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