Several times in the past months, I have been asked security questions that are "pulled from public record" to verify my identity, either over the phone or on a website (Chase Bank, Walgreens Pharmacy, and a credit card company are just a few of the institutions that have used this process with me.) The problem is, I have a twin sister, and half the time the questions are about HER. How can I prevent this from happening? It had led to me "failing" the questions and not being allowed access to accounts that belong to me. Any insight that anyone may have would be helpful, and i can't imagine I am the only twin that is discovering this frustrating issue!!


Typically "Public Record" is your credit record or your past dealings with the company in question. The solution is to fix the source. Get a copy of your credit report and check for inaccuracies. If the details are incorrect, get them fixed. Additionally, once you've authenticated with the company, go over the inaccuracies with them; they may be able to correct inaccuracies in their own records. ...Or maybe not; unfortunately, if a problem is uncommon enough, there may be no provision for dealing with it. But at the very least, you should try to find someone with the authority to fix their records.

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Depending on the service, some pull from broader public records and the algorithms aren't perfect. Generally speaking, the questions offer a "this isn't me" or "none of the above" option. My recommendation is to choose that option. Depending on the service, it may still fail you, but it might also flag their records as possibly inaccurate.

Unfortunately, since in many cases the information is data mined from a variety of sources automatically, there might not be much you can do other than contact any particular vendor you have a problem with. (The vendor actually providing the check, not the vendor you are trying to access.) They could probably point you towards any incorrect source, but more likely their algorithm just screwed up, in which case, it would have to be handled on a case by case basis unfortunately.

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