Friday, March 17, 2006

My Homeland security interview: via MoneyGram

Recenly I had to send some money to my sister in Canada. A quick Google search suggested MoneyGram or Western Union were my best choices, and MoneyGram works with Canadian Post Offices. It was the better option.

I ran into some technical glitches (password problem) and experienced a mixture of both insecure (they use password hints!) and stupidly secure practices (they wanted my sister to know my home phone number), but it did work. They most interesting part, however, was the automated interview with "homeland security". Three of the four questions were about finding out which "John Faughnan" I was:
4. Based on your background, in what county is 'xxxxxxx'? ( The
address listed may be partial, misspelled or contain minor numbering
variations from your actual address )
One question, however, wanted to know who I knew:
1. With which of the following people are you most closely associated? (
Names may be listed as last-name first-name, include maiden names or contain
slight misspellings.) [I've removed names]

A... A...
G... B...
H... H...
L... F...
S... N...
The names were a bit odd. They sounded vaguely Arabic, but mostly they seemed computer generated. I googled on them (that should boost my watchlist ranking!) but came up with no matches at all. Odd.

It was an interesting example of how Homeland Security is implementing its watch lists, and seeking to match a name to a profile.

I do wonder if everyone gets the automated interview...

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