Published on October 22nd, 2014 | by Chuck3
My Experience Signing Up for REDbird and Some Identity Verification Ponderings
Getting the Bird
I was passing through Maryland, and decided to stop into Target for a REDbird. Currently I have Serve and I’m not planning on switching right now since we all assume that the credit-card-load option will stop sooner or later. But a relative of mine had no problem with me opening a card in his name, so I stopped into a Target to pick one up. Everything went surprisingly smoothly.
I found the store stocked with lots of REDbirds, and I had no problem checking one out. The process went as follows: the cashier scanned the REDbird and I requested to load $20. (I know, I know… everyone else does $500, but I always go small when I’m not sure the money will come back so fast.) Then I gave her my driver’s license and she scanned it. Then she entered all the info from my license – name, address, driver’s license state and number. Then I entered my Social Security Number, Date of Birth, and phone number. Then I confirmed all the info. Then I paid the $20 with a credit card – in Maryland there’s no $5 fee to purchase the REDbird like there is elsewhere. And I was off.
Registering the Bird
Now I went to register the card online so that I can get the permanent card. Numerous reports confirm (and I can too) that you can register the REDbird to a different name than the purchaser. In this case, I was the purchaser, but I was registering the REDbird to a relative’s name. I used Frequent Miler’s suggestion of leaving the Date of Birth blank on the first screen, and it worked great.
My big question was which address to use for this relative: I wanted to use my address so that the card could come straight to me, but I was afraid I would trigger identity-verification alerts.
Then I realized that this same relative is already an Authorized User of mine on my Amex cards, so my address is likely on his credit report (AU data shows up on a credit report).
I wondered which system Amex uses to verify identity/address: is it a soft credit pull or some other identity database. If it’s a soft credit pull then my address should work for this, since it’s based off the credit report. I tried calling REDbird customer service, but the rep wasn’t too helpful. He kept denying any credit pull (I didn’t start explaining to him the difference between a soft and a hard pull), and he said that he couldn’t disclose what their source is (more likely – he doesn’t know himself).
This is really a general question with all these different prepaid card – they all don’t do a credit pull, yet they somehow verify your identity and SSN.
I tried searching through my own credit report from a while back, when I signed up for Bluebird originally, to see if there was any soft pull from Bluebird. I was hoping to find ‘American Express Centurion Bank’, but I couldn’t find that. There were, or course, lots of ‘American Express’ soft pulls, so it could be that one of those were for Bluebird, but it didn’t seem like the dates matched up.
The Results Are In
Anyway, I decided to take the risk and enter my own address, and – voila! – it went through beautifully.
They did ask me a few verification questions to verify my identity, similar to what happens when you open a bank account; they’ll ask you: ‘which of these people are related to you’, or ‘which of these cities have you lived in’, etc. Since I know this relative well, I was able to answer all the questions without a problem, and I got an instant approval on my registration – without having to send in any documents. I don’t know if everyone gets those verification questions or only in my unique case.
In any case, it seems to indicate that the info they are getting is based on credit reports. Possibly they do a soft pull, or maybe there’s some external database of info which is based off the info in the credit report.
It’s also possible that I was aided by the fact that this relative is an AU on my Amex credit card; maybe Amex has their own internal database of info and they were able to match up the info with the address from the AU credit card.
I’d love to hear any thoughts or links on how prepaids (and who-knows-who-else) is able to verify our SSN/DOB/address etc.