Why Google wants a photocopy of my Passport!!

To whom it may concern.

Yesterday I attempted to purchase an application using the Play Store on my cellphone. The transaction however was not successful for reasons that I am still not aware of. I then added an additional payment method (in doing so providing all the required and correct credit card information) and attempted to complete the purchase again. This however was also unsuccessful. I therefore assumed that there were issues with the mobile Play Store application and so attempted to purchase the app using the web browser on my computer. This also didn’t work.

My conclusion was that Google was experiencing wider issues with processing payments as neither the card which I had recently been using with my Google wallet account or the new one worked.

Last night I received an email advising me that my account has been limited and that to reactivate the account I would be required to submit to Google copies of not only a recent bill but also of a government issued identity document.

I find this response completely unacceptable considering the situation. An failed attempt to purchase of an application of negligible cost then resulted in me providing all the required information for the transaction to be processed by an alternative payment method. This then escalated and resulted in my account being limited until I provide Google with an amount of personal information that I am not comfortable in sharing. There is a reason that I make a point of not sending credit card details or other personal information that could be used to commit fraud by email or by SMS message.

Considering recent lapses in security at Microsoft, Sony, Target Corporation, Adobe Systems and the uncovering of major security flaws in Open SSL I am not comfortable in any company having that amount of personal information, coincidentally most of the required information to commit identity fraud or make undesirable purchased on my credit card. Whilst I am sure that none of these companies intended to allow extreme amounts of user information to be stolen none the less against their best efforts it happened.

I also find it surprising that Google is requesting this information under the guise of verifying my identity. I can understand that a bank would want to sight a drivers license when you visit a branch as not only are they able to check the details on the license against the copies they have on file from when the account opened but they are also able to check the photo on the card against the person presenting it. I fail to see however in this instance how providing this information to Google will help prove my identity. Not only does Google not have a copy of the information on file to cross check against but I fail to see how they could confirm the authenticity of the information and that I was actually my identity in the first place. Assuming of course that Google isn’t as insidious as some people believe.

Whilst I accept that this is most likely a standard response on the part of Google I find it completely out of proportion considering the circumstances. If my account for example had shown overly excessive usage or out of the ordinary usage then I would expect it to be limited, however I consider the attempted purchase of a $2.92 stocktaking application to be a far cry from this. Furthermore I wouldn’t expect that I would be required to provide a photocopy of a passport / drivers license and a copy of a recent bill to regain access to my account

Since receiving the email I have called the Google Wallet help desk three times, each time they have promised to escalate the case and have a supervisor call me back however thus far this has not happened. When asking to talk to the “Verification Team” I have been advised that it is not possible to contact them by phone and that my only option is to attempt to make contact by replying to the initial email received.

Awaiting your response and resolution

Regards
James Taylor

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