Can online banking be too secure?

Back in December I wrote about moving one’s money from big national banks to smaller community banks to show your displeasure. At the time I was in the process of doing just the opposite, and it has come back to bite me. Do as I say, yada yada.

I’m ready to move back to the little bank. The big bank — Key Bank, to be precise — has been one headache after another.

First there was the ATM check card debacle, less than a month after I opened my account. Yes, I screwed up while checking out at the grocery store. One too many attempts (not sure if it was two or three) to enter the pin number, and the card was rejected. At the time I wasn’t sure what the problem was. A few hours later, at another store, the card was rejected before I even entered a pin number.

Naturally, as soon as I got home, I called the bank. Seems their security had automatically locked the card when I messed up at the grocery store. Fine, I said. I appreciate that. Ask me all the questions and unlock the card. Nope, they said, can’t do that on the phone. You must come in to the bank. Grrr. Went in the next day. Inside, to the teller at the counter. Assorted activities, ID check, etc., that I don’t recall now. But still not done. Had to go outside, drive through the ATM machine and enter what the teller had told me to enter. (No, she couldn’t do it at the counter.) The card was reactivated, but I’ve been nervous about using it ever since. Nobody’s infallible with those keypads, after all.

Several uneventful months passed, and then about six weeks ago I got locked out of my online account access. Again, it was my mistake. I entered my logon and password as usual and landed on an unfamiliar page. Thinking I’d typed something wrong, I clicked back page. Wrong! The first attempt had actually been successful, but the bank had put up an unfamiliar page of advertising in place of what I was expecting. Backing up instead of logging out must have been interpreted as a hack attempt.

To get back into my accounts, I had to call a customer service number and answer a long list of security questions. I was extremely annoyed at the inconvenience caused by their stupid ad (they are constantly trying to sell me additional services). When you log onto any secure page, it should be immediately recognizable as the correct page, your page, the one you always see first. Anyway, that’s my opinion.

About two weeks later, I tried again to log in and was locked out. Again. On my very first attempt. Went through the same routine with customer service. Chewed the rep out big time. Angry customer! Going to close accounts! Got some long song and dance about making sure my browser cookies were enabled. Yes, of course they are, you imbecile.

The next day I remembered I’d done a lot of cache-clearing and other stuff to keep some streaming video from jamming up my computer. Still, I know enough not to dump cookies. Eventually I read somewhere in the fine print that Firefox’s Adblocker extension can sometimes block cookies. Oops. It took a while, but I finally figured out how to keep the extension operable while making sure it didn’t block anything from Key Bank’s website. I still don’t think I interfered with their cookies, but there was the tiniest shadow of a doubt, and transferring funds back to my old bank was going to involve a 15-mile round trip, so …

You guessed it. I tried to log in Sunday night to pay a couple of bills and I was locked out again. %#*^)$#^^$%#!!!!! Adding fuel to the fire, it was late. As in, after their customer service hours. I’d have to wait till morning to call them. ^%))&%$%#%$#!!! Twenty-four hour online banking, but no twenty-four hour service to go with it.

I still don’t understand what the idiot woman was trying to tell me the next morning. Something about once every three logons (like I’m counting), I have to log on, immediately log off, and then log on again. She kept saying I’d have to answer the security question — which I’ve never seen during a log-in. Mind you, she was speaking English, with no particular accent. I could understand her, but I couldn’t understand her. Understand?

And speaking of security questions, it just occurred to me that Key is the one institution that will not cooperate with my Quicken One Step Update. That’s when Key insists I answer a security question. Every other financial institution I deal with cooperates with the update. But not Key Bank.

I understand Internet security, particularly when it comes to banking. And normally I appreciate it. But when security becomes as big an inconvenience to the customer as to potential thieves, it’s going too far.

2 thoughts on “Can online banking be too secure?

  1. Blah, Key is still using that same logo? I remember my mom complaining to me 14 years or so ago about how out-of-date it looked.

    Beyond that, much as I hate banks, I must say I’ve been relatively pleased with Chase, especially over the last few months. They were right on the ball when I had problems with money from Microsoft and haven’t charged me any outrageous fees. I wouldn’t mind dealing with a smaller bank, but frankly there aren’t any close to me and most banks now check credit before they give you an account (yes, indeed, and my credit rating is somewhere around -1,000), so moving isn’t practical.
    I’m only looking for friendly, hassle-free basic services — checking, savings, ATM, online banking; you’d think any bank could handle that, wouldn’t you?

... and that's my two cents