Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Travails of Online Banking

How often has it happened to you?  You are need information from one of your several bank accounts. The reason you have several is, perhaps, that you arranged deposit of your monthly (US) Social allotment. Since then you have moved several times so the Social Security office with responsibility has changed. 
When you attempt to log-in on line, you are informed there are new security procedures in place.  No longer is it sufficient to have a complex password with capital letters, small letters, and symbols, plus your grandmother’s middle name and the name of your first grade teacher. The additional requirement is that you will be sent a “one time pin”.  This will be sent to your mobile phone or to your email address.  Because the mobile phone service in your office is sporadic, you select the email address.  You check your email repeatedly, but no message comes.  Eventually, reach your bank’s call center in the US and, after responding to multiple “security questions,” the call-center staff member checks on your email.  It turns out that the email you regularly use has a security “firewall” that makes it inaccessible to the server used by your bank. You propose another email address (you need three different email addresses for different relationships), This works and, for the moment you have access to that account once again.  You take deep breaths, repeat the Serenity Prayer and move on to your next task.  A procedure that once took five minutes has consumed more than an hour.
            Were Franz Kafka rewriting “The Castle” he might instead choose internet banking, rather than bureaucracy,  as his subject matter.  However it is worthwhile to step back and reflect on the cause for all of this.  The cause is immorality, plan and simple. Those who “hack” for criminal purposes and those who surreptitiously invade our privacy for commercial purposes or other machinations may not be equally complicit – there are degrees of immorality but they are all complicit in degrading the quality of our human experience.   
            To paraphrase my beloved friend, the late Dana Meadows, the world be a simpler and better place if people could only be honest and care about each other.  And I wouldn’t need to keep track of so many passwords and answers to “security questions.”


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