Judy Spooner Viewpoint: How can I answer if I don’t know the question?When you set up an account online, the company with the service asks you to answer a secret question that only you know the answer to. I get it — identity theft and that you want to be careful and follow the rules — but the list of secret questions needs work.
By: Judy Spooner, South Washington County Bulletin
When you set up an account online, the company with the service asks you to answer a secret question that only you know the answer to.
Last week, I was trying to access an account I pay monthly but couldn’t because I hadn’t written down my account number. I know I shouldn’t write down account numbers but I have to. There is simply no other choice because all companies don’t have the same number of digits.
My brother, George, site security director for eBay and PayPal, said I should use passwords that have both letters and numbers and I do that, but one doesn’t have a choice with account numbers.
If you don’t remember the account number, which is always the case because you can’t remember them any better than I can, then you have to answer the secret question so they know who you are.
I get it — identity theft and that you want to be careful and follow the rules — but the list of secret questions needs work.
The list was written by the same people who write car manuals. The writers who work for car companies and those who offer a monthly service are very knowledgeable about their businesses. That’s the problem.
Car manuals and website instructions should be written by people who have no idea of how a car works or about billing.
If you are learning something new, such as how to preset a car radio, then you will ask the right questions starting with, “Where is the button you want me to push?”
Of course, husband Gary has no problem with choosing a secret question. I don’t know how he lives among mortal people, like me, who are flawed.
“I just pick my father’s middle name,” he said when I was upset with not being able to access the account on the website I was struggling with.
“It wasn’t on the list,” I said.
“I pick my mother’s maiden name,” said son-in-law Eric.
“Wasn’t on the list,” I said.
Gary, confident as usual that all the fuss I was making could be immediately cured if he offered to help me, concluded that there must be something on the list I could use.
“Who gave you your first kiss?” he said starting to read the list as if I hadn’t already done so.
“Don’t remember,” I said. “It’s not a matter of having a poor memory at my age. I wouldn’t have remembered it 30 years ago.”
“Name of elementary school?” he asked.
“Went to three of them,” I said. “I could make something up such President Truman Elementary School. The Internet police aren’t likely to correct me, but would I remember it?”
Gary returned to the website list. “Favorite song, singer, book or band?”
“You might as well ask me to choose which of my children I like best?” I said. “I have a lot of favorite singers, books and bands. What’s your favorite band?”
“That’s easy,” Gary said. “Glenn Miller.”
“Is that spelled with one ‘n’ or two?” I said.