3

Time after time, when on the phone to insurance companies and such like, I'm being asked to 'confirm' my details. To me that's like them telling me what they think my details are, and me saying yes or no.

'Verify' is another term used, but I don't feel that either is an accurate word to use. They won't say out straight 'What is your full name', which would then be answered, maybe because it is construed as too direct!

What would be a better word or phrase that actually is apposite?

3
  • 1
    The broadened (non-'corroborate') sense is not mentioned by many authorities, but Collins Thesaurus of the English Language lists as synonyms: << confirm verb ... 2. ... state, declare, assert, testify, pronounce, certify, attest, aver, avouch ...>> Though the major usage is 'state the validity of', the usage you mention is common in this situation, and acceptable. Feb 28, 2017 at 12:31
  • @EdwinAshworth Sorry to begin the new year on a discordant note with you, but the OED (which I rate more highly as an authority than Collins Thesaurus) has no reference to such meaning of "confirm" as you mention - every sense mentioned has to do with ratification or strengthening something that already exists. Anyway, good wishes for 2021.
    – WS2
    Jan 3, 2021 at 12:07
  • @WS2 It's a pragmatic usage, boiling down to 'give us your details'. Yes, there's the strong hint of 'we merely wish to make sure our records are accurate', but handily covers an initial request cloaked in a veneer of professionalism and intimacy, as well as the situation where they've lost your details. // A happy and safe New Year. Jan 3, 2021 at 14:47

3 Answers 3

2

Good question!

Of course if, at the start of the conversation, you have mentioned your name, there is nothing inappropriate about their asking you to "confirm" it. However I do agree that people often ask for "confirmation" of something about which they currently know nothing.

Were it me asking, I would probably say something like "Ok, we can deal with that, but first would you mind giving me your name and address, please"; or "may I ask your name and address, please".

1
  • My reply to the last bit is usually 'Of course, go on then...' It usually takes the other person a few seconds. Sometimes they're totally confused.
    – Tim
    Jan 3, 2021 at 12:12
1

If you are speaking to a company with which you have previously done business, the company representative is asking you to confirm that the facts recorded in their database (which the representative is probably looking at on a monitor) are correct. It is always possible that the facts were entered incorrectly, or that they have changed since your last encounter—you may have moved, or gotten a new phone number, even changed your name.

And the person you are speaking with probably handles fifty or a hundred such calls every day, mostly with existing customers. Under these circumstances their language quickly becomes stereotyped: the form of a question is triggered not by the circumstances of the call but by the particular datum they're seeking, so they're quite likely to ask you to "confirm" a datum even if this is your first contact with the company.

If I were the rep, I hope I would say something along the lines of "Let's start with the paperwork — could I have your full name, please?" But as the caller I wouldn't be particularly bothered by being asked to "confirm" it.

1
  • Stereotyped - 'bear with me', I'll only be a second', etc...
    – Tim
    Feb 28, 2017 at 11:50
0

You may use veracity instead:

veracity conformity with truth or fact : accuracy.

e.g., Please apprise me of the veracity of the information you have shared

1
  • To which I’d reply, “It’s all true.”. ... Which probably would not be at all helpful.
    – Jim
    Mar 1, 2017 at 1:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.