I Failed My Bank's Security Questions

A couple days ago, my PC Financial debit card stopped working and I was unable to make bill payments online. The error was "Card Use Limited" rather than the "Insufficient Funds" message that I am somewhat familiar with. I called them and apparently there was some "suspicious activity", such as possible card-scanner use at an ATM that I had used, and so they de-activated my account. I called them and answered some minimal security questions which were easy to answer because I was in front of my computer and logged in to my bank's website. I was told to go to a bank ATM within 2 hours and set a new PIN. Evidently I missed the part about going "in 2 hours" and went the next day instead. Oops. I called them back, this time from the ATM, not my office. I couldn't answer any of the questions. It was a bit ridiculous and went something like this:

PC: Sir can you tell me the last 3 digits of an account of a bill that you have set up with PC Financial?
Me: Um, yeah , uh.. XXX.
PC: Thank you. Can you tell me the amount of a recent cheque that had been drawn from your account?
Me: I'm not sure, my wife has written some cheques recently and our account is joint. I have no idea what the amounts are.
PC: Can you guess?
Me: Oh wait, I think she wrote a cheque for around $1000 recently to an interior decorator. Actually she just told me that so maybe it didn't go through yet. Oh wait, actually she might have paid for that in cash, you know, under-the-table.
PC: Can you tell me the amount of a recent deposit into your account, like a paycheque?
Me: I dunno, $1500?
PC: Can you be more specific?
Me: It isn't always the same, I dunno, $1600, $1700?
PC: Can you hold for a minute sir while I get a supervisor?
Me: Sure, whatever
PC Supervisor: Can you tell me the amount of a pre-authorized debit that you have set up with PC Financial?
Me: Um, E*Trade. Oh no wait, that's an automatic bill payment, umm, ING Direct? $1000
PC Supervisor: Can you tell me the amount of a recent transaction with this company?
Me: I dunno, maybe $1000? I change it sometimes. And I usually don't pay attention to it (that's the point, it's an automatic savings program that I don't need to think about).
PC Supervisor: Can you tell me the amount of a recent debit purchase you have made.
Me: No, sorry I haven't been able to use my card for a few days. I eat lunch often and it is usually $5.75 or $6.25
PC Supervisor: I'm sorry some of the answers you are giving just don't match up. There is nothing I can do for you right now.
Me: I would have gotten all of these questions correct if I was just sitting at a computer logged in to my PC Financial account.
PC Supervisor: Sorry sir.

These security questions are pretty dumb when you think about it. They can all be answered correctly just by logging in to my online banking account. Why not ask me something only I would know (or that someone who was just logged into hacked into my account most likely would not know), like my social security number, my driver's license number, my eye colour, whether or not I have a mole on my right temple, etc... a much better system would be if there was a computer system over the phone that asked me a bunch of questions upon account creation. Real personal stuff. You then repeat it into the telephone/mic/whatever and it records it. Later, when the bank needs to verify your identity, you provide the answers and the computer recognizes not only the answers but your voice (or rather it wouldn't recognize the answers if they voice wasn't close). Simple voice recognition stuff. Asking about recent transactions or about what automatic bill payments I have set up is stupid and if you don't receive print statements and have also lost access to your online account for any reason it becomes a pretty difficult question to answer.


Add new comment