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Bank of America Cleaning Up its Customer Records at Login, but Why the Phone Call?

This is a somewhat perplexing message to receive after logging in to online banking. It seems almost phish-like (especially with that old-school corded phone in the picture):

A recent review of your account indicated that we are missing your date of birth. We use this information to help verify your identity. Please call us at the 1.800 Customer Service number on the back of your credit card so we can update your file.

I guess I can understand the bank wanting my birth date, but it brings to mind several questions:

  1. Why are they asking me now? I’ve three accounts there, with one dating back to the 1980s. Is something wrong? Has my account been accessed by someone else? Then my more cynical side thinks, did this request come from the marketing dept. or the security folk?  Bottom line: the bank should provide a more detailed explanation via a “more info” link.
  2. I have to CALL, really? Why can’t I do this online? Will I have to endure a cross-selling session when I make the call? Will I have to go through the entire phone tree to get to an operator? The least the bank could do is provide a direct line for the task.

The whole thing seems like a ridiculous waste of time. A five or ten-minute journey through call center menus in order to provide six numbers to a live operator. Plus, won’t this extra call-in requirement drastically reduce user response? 

Bank of America interstitial after logging in to online banking (14 Oct 2009, 5 PM Pacific)