Identity theft is on the rise. Consumers have grown weary, for good cause, of giving their personal identifying information online and elsewhere. That’s why a new pilot project launched by the City of San Diego has received a rough reception from local golfers.
“Typically what I've done in the past is, I’ve brought my power bill down to the golf shop and I showed that to them and they just enter my information in and that's been the end of it,” says San Diego golfer, Mark Gallo about his experience when renewing his golf resident card which allows for discounts at city-owned golf courses.
But when it came time to renew his resident card, Gallo was told the city was in mid-swing with a new online verification system.
“I logged online and I uploaded a picture of my driver's license and they accepted that. You have to show both sides which I understand. But then the next step they ask for my social security number. And that's when I kind of paused for a minute, why did they need my Social Security number to verify my address. It seems overkill.”
Gallo asked the city about the new system.
NBC 7 Responds asked the same question.
According to a spokesperson, the city is testing out a new online verification system called ID.Me. While the old system required that golfers bring a bill or their driver license into the clubhouse to renew their resident card, ID.Me allows applicants to go online, upload photos of the front and back of their driver license, input their date of birth, and their Social Security Number in order to get a new card.
It is the last requirement that has Gallo and other golfers worried.
“There's a lot of stories obviously all around about how your data is getting compromised constantly,” says Gallo. “But mostly it just seem a little ridiculous to ask for such important information for something as simple as a resident verification.”
A spokesperson for the city acknowledged the switch, stating the switch was meant to “improve efficiencies and convenience.”
“We have many examples of non-residents claiming to be residents in order to secure a resident ID card and be charged the resident rate,” said the city spokesperson. “Using the ID.Me system takes the guesswork out of the verification process and the City can have virtual assurance that if you have purchased the resident card online, you are a resident of the City of San Diego.”
The spokesperson said the city will reevaluate whether to implement the program after the pilot project ends.
Gallo told NBC 7 Responds that something just didn’t sit right with inputting his personal identifying information. Gallo said he called ID.Me to inquire as well.
“They basically tried to reassure me that my data was safe and they do this all the time and all they do with my social security number is verify my credit history. That was another red flag because again why do they need to be checking my credit history just to verify my address.”
Instead of taking any chances, Gallo said he chose to head to private course instead of taking the risk of landing in an identity theft trap at city courses.
“You know there's plenty of golf courses here in San Diego,” he said. “It's a shame that I won't be able to take advantage of my residency here, being a homeowner. But you know I just don't want to be throwing my data around for something as simple as this process.”