I had a fraud stop on my credit card last night whilst trying to by car insurance. No big deal and certainly nothing that should have left me having a panic attack and nightmares, but it did.
I called my credit card provider to confirm that it was me trying to make the transaction, and the normal checks started, name, date of birth, first line of address. Then came the question that left me struggling for breath “can you just confirm your previous surname for me”.
I’ve recently left a very abusive relationship. My previously surname was not that of my abuser, but of my sons father. A name that over the 3 year long abusive relationship I dare not assosciate myself with for fear of backlash from my abusive partner.
It took me a couple of seconds to realise I was free to answer the question, this vile abusive person is out of my life now and can’t hear my answer.
However after the called ended I started having vivid flashbacks to instances of items of post arriving addressed to me in my previous name (normally something associated to my son where the sender had assumed we shared the same surname). My partner would see this and start pacing. Then the staring would start. Soon after would be the accusations “why do you treat me like this?” and “you clearly still love him otherwise you’d completely disassociate yourself with him”. Then the shouting, ranting, door slamming. Pushing, sleep deprivation, silence treatment. Abusive messages, belittling and humiliation in front of other people.
I found the strength to leave my abuser before he could do real serious physical harm to me. However I couldn’t help but wonder last night as I tried for the 5th time to get back to sleep after another nightmare of my time with him, what would have happened last night had we still been together and he had heard that call.
So please, banks, insurers, any company that asks DPA or security questions to confirm a persons identity, never ever ask for a previous surname. You could be putting someone at serious risk of harm