Companies love outsourcing. It saves them huge amounts of money over hiring Americans, not only with salaries (why pay an American $9/hour to do a job you can pay an Indian $9/day to do?), but also with benefits, payroll taxes, property taxes, and a million other things.
Consumers, on the other hand, hate it. The hate is partly due to the language barrier that often comes with outsourcing. But it’s also due to some of the things the foreign companies do themselves, such as order their call takers to adopt an American name and persona when talking to customers. When a guy that sounds like Apu from The Simpsons tries to tell you that his name is Bob and he’s from Kansas City, Oregon… well, it’s just insulting.
And now it seems like you can add identity theft to the list of concerns over outsourcing. Actually, identity theft via outsourcing is nothing new… but this story from The Consumerist should give you pause. The Consumerist article, written by one of the call takers at a Chase call center in the US, is a giant bucket of fail.
It seems that Chase has a call center and a “security team” in the the United States, but their off-hours security is outsourced to a call center in the Philippines. The US call center people noticed a male with a distinctive voice calling them frequently, apparently probing for any information he could get about a few accounts. The call takers passed the information on to the US branch of Chase’s security team, who quickly put a block on the account.
It didn’t take the ID thief long to figure out that if he called during off-hours he’d get forwarded to the Philippine security team, who were working from a script and easily fooled. Even worse, the man claimed to be a Chase customer named “Angela”! Apparently the Filipinos were ignorant of the fact that “Angela” is a girl’s name in the United States.
So back and forth they’d go: the thief would call in, and the call center employees (having no other option) would forward “Angela” on to the outsourced security team. The man known as “Angela” had the answers to all of the “security questions” that Chase required, so the Filipino team would remove the block on the account… even though the US branch of the security team had put a “DO NOT UNBLOCK THIS ACCOUNT FOR ANY REASON” note in the account. Poor “Angela” is now out $40,000… just so Chase could save a buck.
You should really check out the article. Why ID theft is nothing new, it’s interesting to read the tale from an insider’s point of view.