Saturday
May 27, 2017

Flavour of the week

Friday, May 12, 2017

ANSES and your fingerprint

By Nicolás Meyer
For The Herald
Quick! What is the CUIT (an identifying number containing 11 digits) of the company you were working for in March of a given year maybe a decade ago?

Why “quick”? Because if you don’t answer fast enough, the online page you’re on will shut down, and you’ll have to remember and go through the previous steps to reach this one all over again.

And why would you engage in such preposterous memory games in the first place? Because ANSES, the National Social Security Administration, wants you to jump through this hoop. And other hoops too. It wants you to do it even though, if you give up in discouragement, it will be more to the agency’s disadvantage than yours.

Let me fill you in on all this. The government has updated retirees’ pension payments not just for inflation, as per usual, but also by an additional sum under what’s known as the Historical Reparation for previous underpayments. That’s wonderful and highly meritorious.

However, pensioners have to specifically agree to the increase, within a given timeframe. For those who don’t, it means their pursuit of a bigger reparation will automatically continue, in individual lawsuits. Tell me if I’m wrong, but I assume it’s to the government’s advantage that the greatest possible number of pensioners do agree. That way, the lawsuits it’ll have to face will be as few as feasible.

So ANSES, which handles the matter, devised a procedure for accepting the government-proposed increase online, which is also wonderful, because if you’re going to be doing things in person at ANSES offices, well, sometimes the crowds move reasonably fast, but take plenty of reading material with you just in case.

The problem is that the online procedure it came up with is agony. If it wanted to make acceptance easy, as soon as you clicked on the Historical Reparation section, a big “Accept Here” box would jump out at you. And all you’d have to do is answer a couple of questions to establish your identity (so some trickster doesn’t accept in your name even if you want to seek a larger sum in court), and click on “Accept.” Instead, first you have to deduce and trace your path to the acceptance area. Then you have to create a special password before accepting. And to create the password, the questions they pop at you are like the one mentioned above involving the CUIT.

For that one, ANSES helpfully notes that the employer’s CUIT “is on the wage payment form.” Why, of course. Don’t tell me you don’t keep your payslips from seven years ago always on hand.

Another question involves a bank you operated with last month. Easy, you say; last month isn’t years ago. However, you have to know the bank branch’s code number, not the name of the location. And it can be a trick question: they may tempt you to click on the right bank but the wrong branch code.

Anyway, if you’re a pensioner who does reach the finishing-line, you’re also told you must go to a specific bank in your area to register your fingerprint. It doesn’t tell you to phone first, much less the number. So you go. When you reach the official with the finger gadget there, she won’t take your fingerprint, even if there’s nobody else in that line, unless you call first and come back.

Why the fingerprint anyway? Because ANSES is moving toward a system in which you’ll have to show your finger to the automated teller machine to collect your money. And periodically you’ll have to show it to prove you’re alive, to keep collecting.

I went to my own bank, which is one of the biggest in the country and, mark you, government-owned. A manager told me that it not only doesn’t have gadgets for recording fingerprints, let alone ATMs equipped to read them, but hasn’t even received any notification about the matter.

So I’ve decided I won’t be rushing to do the finger thing right now. By the time the system is operational, if ever, they may have changed their mind over and over about what precise technology they want. Just like the government changed the DNI identity card several times. Maybe they’ll even realise that people’s fingerprints often blur with age.

But that’s not all. A fingerprint-based method may work in a wholly civilised country. This is Argentina, where thieves cut off bus drivers’ fingers if frustrated over a few pesos. What will they do to access thousands of pesos in pensioners’ pay? It doesn’t bear thinking about. ANSES, for one, clearly hasn’t thought about that potential nightmare.

Eyes, and eye-gouging, next?

meyercolumns@hotmail.com

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