Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Getting To Know You.

Helping D setup an online payment system for an account this morning, it occurred to me how much you need to know about yourself to fill in the security questions. I remember when the only question was "What was your High School Mascot?" or "What is your mother's middle name?" and even trying to answer those questions took five seconds of serious thought. But now there are multiple questions. So many in fact, that she had to write down the answers and file them. That seems insane to me. That security questions about oneself are now so wide in scope that a person needs to keep a "me" cheat sheet in their filing cabinet. "My favorite band? I started this account online in the 90's, I have no effing clue. Let's see, what was my favorite band in 1998? Aqua? That can't be right."

In the event that you can't remember your password, which is highly likely because it often must include 3 digits and an umlaut, these security questions are meant to help verify that you're you. But what if you can't even verify it? Trying to recall the answer to a question you filled out seven years ago is difficult, but if the question concerned something about personal taste at the time, it's nearly impossible. My nightmare would be having to call customer service and run through a list of possible answers I might have given to security questions.
-We're sorry that you're having trouble accessing your account. Can you remember how you answered the "What did you want to be when you grew up" question?
-Um, was there another question?
-Well, we have to start on this one.
-Oh. Um, did I say teacher?
-Let me check. No, that wasn't the answer given.
-Um, MacGdkjfhds?
-Um, Macfrummsblerg?
-Miss Martin, I can't understand you.
-Did I type MacGyver?
-Yes, okay. And now I just need to verify your social.

I let D pick her questions and fill out her answers and afterward she agreed that they were ridiculous.
"One of the questions asked me to name my greatest fear."
"Really? What is your greatest fear?"
"I don't know. I said choking."

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