No Authorization? No Information! No Exceptions.

For the last couple years I’ve worked in a large bank’s call center, performing inbound/outbound collections for auto loans. Any time an account was past due, the call would go to my department. Information security is very serious, and I can’t even confirm or deny that a loan exists until I’ve fully run the customer through the security questions. Even then, a customer had to be explicitly listed on the loan as an authorized party or an applicant – Family was not an automatic authorization for access. It wasn’t uncommon to end calls on the customers being unauthorized to access any information, and usually wasn’t a problem once you got past the usual “but they’re my wife/husband/daughter/sister/brother/cousin/I drive the car/it’s parked in my driveway”. This particular call jumped out at me however.

-Me: Thank you for calling Bank Auto Loan, my name is Alkavarion, can I start by getting your phone number starting with area code please?

-Her: It’s my husband’s loan, phone number is ###-###-####. His name is X, mine is Y.

-Me: Thank you, one moment please. Are you listed on the loan as an authorized party?

-Her: No, I’m not. I just need to know what’s owing so I can pay it.

-Me: Unfortunately, if you’re not listed on the loan, I cannot disclose any information, or even confirm if there’s a loan. (At this point, I’d loaded it up – no authorization, so even if she could answer the questions, I couldn’t help her).

-Her: I know that, I just need the amount owing, that’s all I want.

-Me: Again, I can’t confirm or deny anything, unless you’re an authorized party. I’m sorry.

-Her: I just need what’s owing! Can you transfer me to a manager for a one time exception?

-Me: There are no exceptions on this policy, under any circumstances. We take information security and privacy laws extremely seriously, and disclosing anything would be a grievous breach. I’m sorry for the inconvenience. (Usually by now the customer has accepted this)

-Her: Oh I know, I work in a call center too, I know there’s no exceptions, but just this once please?

-Me: (I was cheeky and bored that day) Oh! Thank goodness! I’m glad you understand, you know exactly how stringent these rules are, then! Thank you for understanding. You know exactly how I could face job loss, fines, and industry blacklisting for failure to adhere. I’m really glad you get it! (I was far too cheery sounding, but I really wanted to sell my enthusiasm for someone who should ‘get it’)

-Her: (In a rather defeated small tone) Yeah…

-Me: I can answer general questions, but you get where I’m coming from, so is there anything else I can answer for you?

-Her: (Smaller) No…

-Me: Generic closing, thank you for calling, have a great day.

I didn’t follow the account and see if she tried her luck with anyone else. It was a nice outlier from the usual run of the mill calls, and it was fun to call someone out without being aggressive. All things considered, she was polite, but policy is policy!

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I know you want to keep it brief and all, but come on.

Repeat escalation