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Vanguard Voice Recognition for Security

This article was written by in Investing, Privacy and Security. 5 comments.


After a few years of testing this new security feature, Vanguard has begun rolling out voice pattern recognition technology for security. According to the representative I spoke to today, this feature will be available for Flagship customers first, and all customers will eventually follow. Voice recognition adds another layer of security to your financial accounts, and I’m impressed with it so far.

When you call a Vanguard representative to discuss your account, they ask a security question to verify your identity. They may ask your pet’s name, your high school mascot, or some other piece of information a stranger might not know. This isn’t very secure; a friend or family member could easily know the answers to many of the questions typically used for security verification. It is much more difficult to fool voice pattern recognition. Even a digital recording of your voice will not have the same acoustic properties that can be detected over the phone.

Voice Pattern WaveformThe biggest benefit of this level of security is that it eliminates the need for Medallion signature guarantees for most financial transactions for which they were previously required. Signature guarantees can be a hassle; for a financial institution that conducts is business mostly online and over the phone, you might need to visit a local bank or credit union with identification in order to secure a signature guarantee, and then it will take some time to send the signature guarantee to Vanguard.

To enable voice recognition today, call a Vanguard representative today. You’ll be asked to repeat a passphrase several times: “At Vanguard, my voice is my password.” The security system will analyze your voice, which will act as a secure key. After confirming that you’re ready to begin using voice recognition as a security check, the new technology will be activated for you with your next call to Vanguard.

After entering your Social Security number via your phone’s keypad as usual, will be prompted to speak the passphrase. It sounds like this technology could be easily fooled through recording, or to be ineffective depending on the quality of your phone line, but it’s much more secure and accurate than the existing system.

If your security check through voice recognition fails when you call, you will be asked to answer a security question. This fallback can solve any issues if you’re in a noisy room, for example, but that reduces the level of security.

Would you use voice pattern recognition to verify your identity for financial transactions?

Photo: altemark

Published or updated March 7, 2012. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar krantcents

Conceptually, I like the idea of additional security, but I have my doubts about using my voice. It reminds me of the crime shows when they compare voice prints. Supposedly, everyone is different.

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avatar wylerassociate ♦162 (Cent)

no, I don’t like the idea of voice recognition being used as a primary means of identification especially at a financial company like vanguard.

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avatar Steve Dupree

As long as the old, insecure method is available, this feature provides zero additional security.

If I did sign up for it, I would say “my voice is my passport” instead. I wonder if they use any kind of voice recognition to make sure you’re saying the prescribed phrase. If not, that could provide an additional layer of security – you’d not only have to have your own voice, you’d have to know the correct passphrase as well.

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avatar Harm

I have a cold…..wouldn’t that change my voice?

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avatar Ceecee ♦53 (Newbie)

Maybe it’s just me, but I think this sounds really cool. I would use it if available.

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