Online Banking Services: Why so much red tape?

Posts: 1138
Joined: Fri 15 Aug, 2003 17.28

Away from all the politics, here's another thread about something which isn't so terribly important. At some point tonight, my wages will clear through my account. This is usually around 1-2AM, but sometimes as early as midnight, and other times as late as 8AM. Being totally skint but up for a few bevvies, I wouldn't mind finding out before morning.

I *could* go the cash machine which is 5 minutes walk away and check, but if it hasn't gone in, it just means another walk back home again, and then another walk out which could also be fruitless, and so on and so on.

But I don't need to do that - I live in the age of Internet Banking. I regularly use it on an account I hold with another bank and I find it so simple and useful - once you're allowed to access it that is.

Which brings me to the point of this post - why is it, that every single bank requires you to specifically register to use their online service, be given a separate online logon number even though you are allready uniquely identifiable with your sort code and account number, and then to wait for a seperate password/security number/whatever they call it this week to be sent through the post even though they allready have a PIN number, telephone security code, and a myriad of other security questions they could request of you?

Even accepting that the separate security number is necessary, why must it be sent through the post? Why can't they email it to the email address which they hold on your account details?

Putting any of this to a bank will result in a usual fobbed off answer of 'it's for security reasons'. But hang on - I can go to any number of online retailers, pull a few details off my debit card, and go buying stuff which will be debited to my account! If online banking is such a serious business that you need separate ID's for it and information to be posted to you before you can use it 'for security reasons' then why is it acceptable to be able to charge things to one's account without any such red-tape.

If a card number, account name, expiry date, and card security number is sufficient information to let Amazon take £30 out of my account when buying a couple of DVD's, then so should the same/other readily available information be sufficient for Natwest to allow me to see how much money is in my account without having to wait for bits of paper to be sent through the post.

The conspiracy theorist in me suggests that this is yet another example of profile-mania, where every single online service you encounter, for no good reason, requires you to create a profile of yourself that will ultimately be used for targetted junk mail.

I see no doubts of the validity of my attempting to get onto online banking which couldn't be resolved by security questions on the myriad of personal information which a bank holds on me, and I see nothing more secure about expecting you to hang around for several days waiting for a bit of paper (which anyone could intercept) to be sent to you.

[/slightly over-excessive rant mode]
Dr Lobster*
Posts: 2009
Joined: Sat 30 Aug, 2003 20.14

agreed. i login to my account with my debit card number, a password and a passcode. i have a joint account and my partner has a totally different number which doesn't resemble the number on her card to login, i have no idea why... both our cards look identical, the number is different, but the cards were issued within a short time of each other.

but not only that, i can pay off my credit card over the phone without speaking to a human by just keying in the card number, postcode and date of birth.

but what really fecks me off is when i do decide to do something over the phone which i can't do online is the number of security questions i get asked. the last time i spent a good five minutes trying to understand what the indian bloke was saying on the phone. in the end all he wanted me to do is read the 3rd block of numbers from my debit card... why he couldn't just ask me for the whole number i don't know.
Posts: 1138
Joined: Fri 15 Aug, 2003 17.28

but what really fecks me off is when i do decide to do something over the phone which i can't do online and the number of security questions i get asked. the last time i spent a good five minutes trying to understand what the indian bloke was saying on the phone. in the end all he wanted me to do is read the 3 block of numbers from my debit card... why .
Outsourced international call centres are a major greviance I have at present too. I'm am fed up with conversing with people from HSBC's international call centres in broken English. Also with being forced to dial an 0845 number which isn't even a call centre but is telephone banking, having to trundle through several layers of menus just to get to talk to a call centre, which then ultimately routes me back to my own branch - explain to me again why this is 'simpler and easier' than a direct dial number for my branch - which is who I'll end up talking to anyway?
he couldn't just ask me for the whole number i don't know
This, apparently, is also for 'security reasons'. Until 2002 HSBC Online Banking asked (amongst other things) for your security number. Then they suddenly changed it for asking for 3 random digits from your security number, which made it insanely annoying to log on when you used to just be able to quickly rattle off the whole number. I asked why they had introduced this annoying change, and was treated to an email running to several paragraphs explaining about the Data Protection Act and how HSBC are passionate about ensuring the security of personal data. To which I replied 'Thanks, but could you answer my question please?' I never got a reply.
Posts: 513
Joined: Fri 15 Aug, 2003 13.48
Location: The Magic Faraway Tree

I had a chat with my bank today.

''Can you confirm the 8th and the 5th digits on your 10 digit security number?''

Me: Well, the number is ...... so presumably that's ok?

''Yes but please can you tell me the 5th and the 8th digits''

Me: I've just given you the full number...

"Yes but I need the 5th and 8th digits''

Me: Why? Are you trying to see if I can count?

After a moment he went ''erm, oh, ok then, how can I help?''

I like my online service though. Username, password, and security question. Very easy and it's well designed.
Posts: 1138
Joined: Fri 15 Aug, 2003 17.28

I like my online service though. Username, password, and security question. Very easy and it's well designed.
But, was your username and password derived from information you allready knew, or was it something you had to explicitly register for and await a password in the post? This is the issue I have. I cannot see any valid reason for forcing you to go through this 'register and wait' process - 'security reasons' just doesn't cut it when there are so many ways they could confirm your identity on the spot.

Anyway, I am now trundling up the hill to the cash machine. For Natwest's sake, lets hope my wages have cleared and it doesn't turn out to be a wasted journey.
User avatar
Posts: 1892
Joined: Wed 07 Jan, 2004 05.38
Location: Donaghadee

The Northern Bank's website is incredibly badly designed.

To log on to internet banking you go to the homepage. Then you press "Log On to Internet Banking" on the drop down menu.

Then you get an internet banking welcome page, so you press the "Log On to Internet Banking" button.

This takes you to a "how to stay safe online" page. Then you find ANOTHER button labelled "Log On to Internet Banking".

This finally opens a new window which allows you to put in your Customer Number and your password.

You then get to another page on which you have to answer a security question before finally, you can access your account details.

I did complain about it. The reply I received was that they planned on making no changes to the website and finished "I trust you find this reply useful". I did reply asking how exactly them doing nothing about a crap website was of use to me, but funnily no one replied.
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Gavin Scott
Posts: 6427
Joined: Fri 15 Aug, 2003 13.16
Location: Edinburgh

I set up my Halifax online details ages ago, and whilst doing so I opted to receive my statements electronically.

I've never subsequently been able to access it as it doesn't recognise my username or "roll" number.

Conversely, their phone system is *most* efficient; and apart from having to scribble down my passnumber to pick out the requested digits, I can access it within a matter of seconds. Very handy if you want to order a copy of a past statement.

Which they will deliver to my elusive online account. :roll:
Posts: 631
Joined: Thu 01 Apr, 2004 15.36
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

I bank with Nationwide and find their online service very efficient and as it's Microsoft Money compatible it downloads my statements and makes up spending reports/budgets etc automatically, which I like (although too much is assigned as simply 'cash withdrawl'). However, I did have to register separately for the service and agree with the points mentioned previously.

However, ING Direct is the one I'm having trouble with. I have one of their accounts but (very unlike me) lost my PIN. I type in the customer number, then got asked for the third, fourth and fifth digits of my PIN. I had a guess, but then was asked for my favourite singer - a question I don't even remember answering!! Now I have to phone them up to get my details reset, but frankly, I'm almost scared I won't pass whatever test they'll have on the end of the phone. I only use this account now and again, and just want to know how much interest has been added.

I've finally got some sympathy for my gran who writes down her bank PIN number and keeps it next to her cash card. (and yes, I tell her not to do this).

Ooh - I also remember calling Sainsbury's Bank once when I had some savings over there on some introductory offer account. They knew I was phoning from a mobile and I was asked to agree to a disclaimer which said that I knew my call was at greater risk of being intercepted compared to a landline and I was happy to continue giving out my details. Talk about covering their backs...
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Posts: 2542
Joined: Fri 15 Aug, 2003 14.05
Location: de Voitures

The purpose of this apparent bureacracy (entering digits x and y) is actually quite important. If your keyboard is being keylogged, typing the whole number in will be snapshoppted and sent to the hackers. By asking for two numbers, these change all the time, and so when the hacker sees in your keylog "14" or whatever he won't know a) what digits these are, or b) get a question asking for these digits. Similarly with phone operators, they don't want them nicking your number for their own purposes I assume, and similarly they don't' want you saying it over the phone on a line that may be intercepted. Those are the only reasons I can think of, so it may be wrong entirely!
Cheese Head
Posts: 918
Joined: Fri 15 Aug, 2003 13.39
Location: Rockhampton, Australia

My dad wanted a Virgin credit card and in england they like give them away.

Dad applied here and they wanted him to send off all sorts of legal documents just to prove his identity.

To set up an account here you need to give a pint of blood pee in a cup hand over fingerprints and your passport.

its not an easy process.

Erm, i thought id add that
» James »
I don't know my future after this weekend, and I don't want to
Posts: 2587
Joined: Sun 30 May, 2004 23.02
Location: Bristol

Credit cards are nothing but stress.

They litterally hand them out in shopping centres now, from black men with clipboards. Usually it's capitalOne.

I'm STILL paying off a £750 card I maxed out in 2002! If you miss a couple of months payments they come down on you like a ton of cow shit.
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