When Checking My Own Accounts Became a Headache

igobankingThree incidents happened over the weekend made me feel the headache of the login processes at online banks and credit card companies.

I appreciate all the improved security features that financial institutions are now adopting to prevent illegal access to others’ accounts as more and more people rely on conducting their financial activities online, but having to memorize everything for dozens of online accounts isn’t an easy job.

I first tried to log into my IGoBanking account from my home computer as always. However, since I cleaned up my computer the day before and some cookies were removed, it wasn’t recognized by the system and I was asked to verify my identity by answers three security questions. That’s exactly the problem because I have never setup any security questions, nor the system has ever asked me to do so before. How can I answer the questions that I myself don’t even know the answers? The result is I wasn’t able to check my account and have to call their customer service in work days.

Then I was trying to access my auto loan account with Chase and again was asked to validate this is the computer I want to use. Since I have setup automatic payment for this account, I don’t even remember when was the last time I logged in. For Chase, the validation is done by sending a code, but only my home phone is listed as means of contact, not even my email. I don’t understand how come they don’t have my email address because the account was set up online.

The last incident happened with Citibank when I tried to add an new credit card to my online account which is a simple task. But I ended up calling the customer service because the security word I entered didn’t match what they have on record. Unlike the above two cases, this time I was pretty sure that’s word I provided when I applied for the card. Again, no luck. When I called, I was told the word has to be in all lower case, though I am sure when I provided the word, I gave the first letter in capital.

Now the security of online account access has really become a serious issue. So serious that a couple of weeks ago Treasury Direct mailed me a Access Card in order to log into my account. There’s probably no way I can check my account if I don’t carry that piece of plastic with me and I wonder what kind of hassle I will face if I lost the card.

treasury direct access card

Since when accessing my own accounts became such a big headache?

Update: I called IGoBanking today to complain the issue. They had to reset my password so that I will have a chance to provide answers to the security questions I was asked.

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This post was written by Sun You can find out more about Sun and his activities on Facebook , or follow him on Twitter .

7 Responses to “When Checking My Own Accounts Became a Headache”

  1. T |  Feb 18, 2008 at 11:50 am

    Sorry but this is your own fault. You should set up security questions that you know the answers to, you should know your passwords, etc. You should also consider the fact that you have WAY TOO MANY accounts. Don’t you think this has something to do with it? I have no sympathy for you.

  2. Sun |  Feb 18, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    T: Probably you didn’t see what I meant. The problem isn’t that I forgot my password or answers to the security questions. I know my password, but I was denied access because the system didn’t recognize my computer and when I tried to validate it, I was asked a bunch of questions that I was never asked before. If I was never given the chance to answer the questions, how could they use the question to verify my identity?

  3. Jeremy |  Feb 18, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    I agree with T. You need security like this, there are too many people trying to defraud the system. It’s good to have systems in place like these, even though they could be a hassle at times.

  4. stngy1 |  Feb 18, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    Had a similar experience, where the website decided after the fact (after I had set up online access) to require security questions I had never set up. REALLY annoying! Poor website management to say the least. For stashing password info I love SplashID.
    Treasury Direct! I haven’t gotten such a card, but OMG, that’s pretty crazy! You could scan it onto your computer as a pdf or jpg, then lock away the actual card…..

  5. Sun |  Feb 18, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    stngy1: That’s exactly the problem. If I can’t remember my passwords, that’s my fault and I won’t complain. However, it’s beyond my control when I even didn’t have a chance to provide answers to those questions I was asked.

    I guess I can always carry a copy of the Access Card with me. I just don’t know whether the measure is necessary.

  6. Saj |  Feb 19, 2008 at 9:48 am

    Well, this is a problem for everyone. So many security questions, different access methods for different websites etc. The solution might be to use a “Aggregator” website like “moneycentral.yodlee.com”

    Most of your existing accounts can be consolidated using this site and you are accessing one site instead of many.


  7. Mike |  Mar 07, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    I’m with you Sun. It has gotten ridiculous when they change the method of security and wait for you to login to find out, which is often at the most inconvenient time. I used to to put all my credentials in my PDA, which is even less secure, then it becomes out of date and a pain to keep current. Now I have 85 login accounts saved to Roboform on a usb drive, which helps, as long as I remember the login to it. Sometimes I use OpenID if the site offers it (financial sites typically don’t), although I’m not quite ready to trust it.
    BTW, I tried your ‘Contact’ link and it errors, as does the other menu items.