I am, of course not a fan of online banking. This is because banks dont seem to know how to do security. But I'm about to dip a toe into the water.
I was talking to Barclays recently, and at the end of the conversation, I asked them to send me an email. They said, they don't send emails.
I was surprised, but not shocked. I get so many emails claiming to be from one bank or another; I routinely delete them unread - why should I care what The National Bank of Flatbush wants to say to me?
Instead, he told me, they use the Barclays online banking system to communicate. That sounds good, so I asked to hear more, and it's good news.
They use a little device called a "PINsentry". You put your card into the device, give it your PIN number, and it gives you a passcode, that's good for only a very short time. So if there's a trojan on your computer that's capturing keystrokes, it will capture that passcode, but the thief won't be able to use it when he tries to log on later.
"Great," I said, "send me one". So they did, and it arrived today. You put your debit card into the slot, and type in your PIN code.
My first stumbling block was that I didn't know the PIN code for my debit card, because I would never use it in an ATM, so I didn't memorise it. So I phoned up Barclays.
An automated system took my card number, and asked me a couple of security questions (date of birth, for example, which is why if you look up my date of birth on Facebook, you get January 1, 1905, which is, I have to confess, is a complete lie).
Then I got passed on to a nice lady with an accent I found hard to understand, especially as she couldn't pronounce "V". She asked me exactly the same security questions, then we got down to details. I explained the problem, and she decided to transfer me to the online banking team, but I told her that it wasn't an online banking issue, it was a "lost PIN" issue. Eventually she agreed, and I got to talk to Paulo.
Paulo's first question was to ask if he could use my first name. Then we got down to details, and I got the same security questions a third time. DO NOT GIVE YOUR TRUE BIRTH DATE ON FACEBOOK.
Then I explained the problem, so he told me he'd send a new PIN to me, I'd have to do a dance with an ATM to change it, and it was at that point that we discovered that they had our old address. We moved several years ago, they've been sending everything to the new address, but they still had the old address as my home. So we had to change that.
More security questions, and these were more difficult. I couldn't remember the month when we moved house, it was several years ago, I don't even remember the year. But I passed.
So he's going to send me a new PIN, and apparently I won't have to dance with an ATM to use it.
So by this time next week, I'll be able to log in to online banking.