When I worked at the call center for a retirement management company, one of the biggest thing we were taught in training is security to account information. We weren’t allowed to give any account information to spouses, even if they came through our phone system secure. There were two ways around this: 1). Have a power of attorney on file 2). Confirm the spouse through verification and then ask them if we can share account information and activity with your spouse (friend, family member, investment advisor, etc).
One day, this Brad decide to call in and get information about his wife’s retirement account. Now for verification purposes, our phone system asked for the SSN or account number, then date of birth. Well, he had access to that info. The call popped as verified, I do my intro and ask for a name.
Brad: This is Brad Smith, I am the husband of Karen Smith. I need some info on her previous employer’s account.
Me: Certainly, may I please speak to Ms. Smith first to verify her.
Brad: No, she’s not here.
Me: I’m sorry sir, I cannot share any account info with getting Ms. Smith’s permission.
Brad: WE ARE MARRIED! We have a joint banking account! I should have access to this account too!
Me: I’m sorry sir, company policy and IRS guidelines do not allow us to share any information with Ms. Smith’s approval.
Brad: No they don’t! The IRS allows for joint accounts.
Me: When it comes to 401K accounts sir, the IRS only allows one individual name on the account. Unless you get a power of attorney. Maybe you can get her on the phone via threeway and once I verify her, I can speak to you.
Brad: Look, she’s driving right now! Do you know how unsafe it is for her to call you while driving? You’re asking me to put my wife’s life at risk!? I just need the investment information of this account.
Me: Well sir, we open at 8am EST and closee at 9pm EST, maybe she can call before she leaves for work or before she gets home from work?
Brad: NO! She leaves for work at 730! She’s a nurse and works 12 hour shifts!! There’s no way those hours work for us! Listen, you guys have an email. I’m just gonna email the company and ask for the information. You can’t keep me from this information! Its our account!
Me: Well sir, you can try that, but unless you log into the account, the email you send will be from generic message and we can share very basic info and nothing account specific.
Brad: This is unacceptable! Let me speak to your supervisor now!
Me: One second sir.
I inform the escalation team of the situation. And how does he prepare of it?
ES: Okay, I got the account and now let me just minimize the so I don’t tell him anything on the account…okay send him through.
I listen to the call for a few minutes where Brad was trying to put the blame on me for not accessing the account. He even said “he wants my wife to call while she’s driving so we can access our joint retirement account!? What the fuck is up with all the secrecy? Its our account!”
ES: sorry to hear that sir, is your wife near so I can verify the account and give you whatever information you want?
Brad just loses it! He calls ES and the company all the worse names in the book. Sorry, but not sorry Brad!