I have recently moved house…I know, I know, I have mentioned it before.
We are now in our new abode and aside from risking life and limb every day shuffling around rooms piled higher with boxes than any self respecting health and safety officer would agree was safe and loosing sleep through lack of curtainage things are getting more settled.
So today I decided to start tackling the ‘change of address’ process.
Originally I was going to do this in a reactive way having paid more than a small fortune to the Post Office to redirect my mail. It’s at times like these that I regret not using my married name as the process has cost me twice as much due to the fact that good old Royal Mail charge per surname as well as per address. Money for old rope… And don’t get me started on the burning hoops of fire I had to jump through in order to set this highly extortionate process in motion. I wouldn’t mind so much but we have literally moved around the corner. And I am on first name terms with my postman…and actually my buyers…but, hey, I am British and therefore hate to put anyone out.
Then I got to thinking about it and decided a reactive process might just draw out the inevitable pain too long. So I changed to proactive mode. And started logging on to various web sites.
I am going to let you in to a little secret. My memory is not that great. It might be my age or just they way I am made but I forget things. I may have told you this before, apologies.
When the Internet banking/ shopping/ membership management/ forum revolution started in earnest it quickly became apparent to me that I was not going to be able to retain all the information required by these sites to gain access to their wonders.
I can remember my bank card PIN, and make sure all my cards have the same number so it is fool proof…In fact if anyone cracks my bank PIN they will also be able to steal my bike from it’s combination bicycle lock, access the numerous mindless games downloaded by my kids onto my I pad and deactivate the house burglar alarm, that we never use. And good luck with Crossy Road…which as far as I can see is Frogger with different animals (capybara anyone?).
Those of you with a security bent are no doubt horrified by this laxness but as the PIN is truly random (given to me with my first ever card by some Bank or other, probably Lloyds, Sheffield University branch) and does not relate in anyway to birthdays or some such nonsense it is relatively safe. Except my kids now know it…and I have to prevent them shouting it out in unfortunate places, for instance when they are withdrawing money for me from an ATM… In my defence I need to teach them how to survive in the modern world, and anyway they still have wonder that money appears for free from the wall…
It soon became apparent that this simple (yet actually quite difficult to break) code was not going to suffice for these new fangled internet sites.
It started with banking. Along with a lot of people, I imagine, I search diligently every new tax year for a relatively decent interest paying ISA account in which to stick some funds, should we have any spare. Of course the ones I already have are never the best ones going forward and as I am too lazy to move the old money out of the old ISAs (to be honest it just seems soooo complicated) I have built up quite a collection of banks and building societies and airlines….
Of course the best rates are always on line. And anyway the on line financial institutiton doesn’t know I am not my husband. So I can manage all his money too. He trusts me. Evil cackle…
That doubles the number of accounts. And the number of passwords. And the number of user names. And the number of ‘memorable questions’. And the number of card readers. And the number of random number grids.
Over the years the Financial Institutions have upped their security game, some key stroke capture avoidance or something. In fact my most secure account (I think it may have around £200 in) has a randomly generated User Number, needs my date of birth, a card and card reader and a PIN which is unchangeable and not the same as my ‘normal’ PIN. The letters that arrived, separately, containing all this information asked me to memorize the numbers and store the card away from the reader. I laughed, heartily, and stuffed all the correspondence in the padded card reader envelope in my drawer. I didn’t write down my DOB as I can manage that (and my husband’s) but any one who is savvy enough could find it on Facebook and steal my money if they raided my man drawer. Frankly if they can navigate the security system they would have earned that £200.
You can imagine the process I needed to go through to change my address with these people. Which they never use, as it is an a on line account with paperless statements. I think they have now changed it. I got a normal email telling me there was a secure e mail waiting for me on their secure system, and I have yet to find the energy to re log in.
At yet another institution I was asked to change my password for a more secure version. Apparently my original password did not have the right combination of upper case letters, lower case letters, numbers and random punctuation, nor was it long enough. I defy anyone to remember such a password.
And then there are the memorable questions. My main bank uses these to identify me on the phone. Every …single….time…I ring up I am offered another form to fill in with my answers to these ‘memorable questions’ as some of the answers are clearly not that easy to remember. If you are me… First house….god knows what I answered to that. I have lived in 18 houses over my life time. I never get it right…
But it’s not just banks. It is all the shops, memberships of charitable organisations, the cinema, Facebook and other essential social media sites, my supermarket, this blog host, my BT (ARGHHHH) account, paperless utility bills, the TV licence and on and on and on…
I have a file full of post it notes on which I jot, as I join any new web sites, the user name and password.
So I am a security risk. If I ever get burgled my life will be quite literally open for all to see. My only saving grace is that I never store my bank card details on any web site. You see I have no problem remembering numbers (in four digit parts) its just all those pesky words…and difficult questions.