Friday, 19 February 2010

Dumb Security Questions #2354

The other day I had to call Mastercard to let them know I was going to spend some money on my card, so they didn't automatically block it when someone tried to put the price of a second-hand car through. (That happens all the time with credit cards - which have computer routines to highlight alleged suspicious spending.)  I keyed in my credit card number, the three-digit code on the back and my date of birth. The young man who eventually answered had my details in front of him, but insisted that I give him my name and address and if I there were other people who could use the account. Then he asked me how much I had spent in Foyles a month ago.

Huh? If he'd asked about how much I'd spent at Richer Sounds around a month ago, I would have known. I don't buy electronic kit that often (it was a Sony BDPS 760 and an excellent purchase it was as well, plays well with my Sony Bravia flat-screen and gives new life to DVD's, but I digress). I read over a hundred books a year, most of which I buy in Foyles or Blackwells, so I buy books "all the time" and no more remember what I bought for how much than anyone else would remember what they spent in Sainsbury's a month ago. Maybe it would have been a memorable thing for that young man to have bought books in Foyles in the Wicked West End, but not for me. (In fact on the date he mentioned, I think I bought Being and Nothingness and Being and Time for stock, as reading Hegel's Phenomenology has given me a taste for some heavy continental stuff.) So since I flunked that, he said I'd failed the security question and he couldn't go on.

In the end, it turned out that Cargiant don't take Mastercard, so I called my bank and explained the situation, and they gave me an extra £2,000 on my overdraft, which was enough to pay for the car on my regular debit card.

This does not count as "working out all right" because there's still a silly young man out there who thinks that you can remember what you spent at Sainsbury's three weeks ago. And he may block your card if you don't get it right.

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