A Bit Of A ‘To Do’!

I had a discussion about voice recognition security with a representative of a financial institution today. Displaying the usual excellent customer service I’ve come to expect from the keepers of the Strachan fortune, I was interestingly provided with an insight into how part of my security details could be partly verified by my voice.

Re-assured that all voices are unique and that security verification would still include some security questions, I am seriously considering embracing this method of being verified by the people who hold the safe keys.

Before I go on, I just wanted to point out there isn’t really a Strachan fortune; so you can cancel the kidnap plan, unless you want to take over my mortgage….. We have some magic beans I got for a cow;  however, Karen’s mum didn’t want them! (only kidding Avril darling!)

I knew of the existence of voice technology, but not to the extent of everyone’s voice being their own unique fingerprint.

I’m told that I sound very similar to my brother when we talk together in the family home. So it was re-assuring to know that the voice recognition software is intuitive enough to differentiate between our two voices….. So if your planning to fraudulent nab the magic beans don’t bother our kid!

I’m told the software would also cater for my hybrid accent; the product of half a century of residing in three different areas of England. A dialect not aided by an overburdening identity crisis.

The fact that my accents slip and slide depending on where I am and who I’m talking to doesn’t matter one jot either, as this clever old software will cater for this. As my mum would say “It’s amazing what they can do these days!”

Meaning if I ring up the custodians of my finances whilst located in the north east of England visiting friends, where my accent slides more to a north eastern twang than when I’m at home in Yorkshire, it will differentiate between both voices.

It was heartwarming to hear, it won’t flag to the customer services representative that they believe the Geordie accented, Viz magazine character, Sid the Sexist is trying to fraudulently access my bank account.

I would imagine, it must also be a relief to celebrities to know that someone like 1970’s mimic Mike Yarwood wouldn’t be able to ring up and get security verified on their accounts.

Mike Yarwood ‘doing’ rugby commentator Eddie Waring back in the day


Coming to think of it, Mike Yarwood was probably a bad example to use as most of the people he did are dead now, with the exception of Bruce Forsyth.

However, Brucie can rest assured that Mr Yarwood cannot ring his bank and be verified by using an opening gambit (in Bruce’s voice) of “All right my love. It’s nice to hear from you! To hear from you …. Nice!”

I suppose if it was possible to mimic someone accurately enough to fool the software (which you can’t) I’d put my money on actor/comedian Steve Coogan maybe being the one to achieve the feat. His impressions (that I’ve heard anyway) are performed with an almost forensic precision.

There’s a famous show business saying that “You can fool all of the people some of the time. You can fool some of the people all of the time. However, even though you’re a bloody good impersonator, you can’t fool voice recognition software Steve Coogan!”

Admittedly, it’s not a widely used soundbite amongst the casts and crews of Blighty’s theatres and TV studios. Well, unless Steve Coogan is in the play, film or show and he is caught attempting to access a celebrity’s account; which is highly unlikely!

Anyhow, Coogan will be minted so won’t give a toss that he can’t fool the vox software. That being said, could you imagine the shock waves in the celebrity world if impersonators had the capability to achieve this fraud?

I picture a scene of much acclaimed British writer Alan Bennett, unbeknown to him,  financing Coogan’s Lamborghini purchase, after the authenticity of his impersonation of the Leeds born author gained access to his account.

bennett footy score

I visualise Bennett’s dulcet West Yorkshire tones, while checking his online bank account, bemoaning to his agent the mysterious disappearance of more money from his account:-

“Woe is me, Jeremy. Thousands of pounds have disappeared out of my account again; and Steve Coogan has bought three cars in a month. Do you think giving him my banking verification details may have attributed to this ‘to do’? ….. If this doesn’t stop I’ll have to ‘pull in my horns’ and forgo the bourbons for a frugal biscuit existence of Rich Teas and other non dunkable cheap tack!….. Whatever would mother have said?!”

Incidentally, I’ve no idea if Alan Bennett’s agent is called Jeremy or what his mother would have said; however, as it wouldn’t add to the narrative I’m not going to bother googling** it……. **Other online search engines are available.

Anyway, away from all this silliness, I just wanted to say that Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, or indeed anyone else, cannot access your account by impersonating your voice.

My rambling above is the result of my creative/ludicrous mind (delete where applicable) creating a fictional utopia for impersonators. A world where they could embark on an ostentatious life financed by being able to convincingly mimic Sir Sean Connery, Sir Anthony Hopkins and chat host Michael Parkinson.

Like all good things, it would come to an end when they are caught by the rozzers. Not even Lassie the dog would be able to spare them from the clink…… Although, if you employ a border collie as your defence advocate you don’t deserve to preserve your liberty!

To close, always remember that banks will never ask for your full security verification details….. Ronni Ancona might though!

Don’t give this woman, or indeed anyone else, your online banking verification details


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