Opinion: Don’t bank on privacy


What’s the name of your favorite cartoon character?

Are you teetering between Bart Simpson and Sponge Bob? If you’re from my generation you might be torn between Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. This was the dilemma I faced this holiday season while creating a security profile to bank online. I was asked a series of personal questions so if I forgot my password, they could confirm my identity by matching my answers.

Because the questions are all about me, I won’t have to scribble my responses in black marker on the side of my printer where I already store dozens of secret passwords. When I check my balances at 3:00 a.m. after a bout of insomnia or a six-pack of Bud Light, I can enter my code incorrectly up to three times, but they’ll still allow access if I can remember the following:

My most unique characteristic? I vacillate between feeling unbelievably funny and romantically dashing. On a bad day, I’d have to go with incredibly annoying. That gives me a one-out-of-three chance of getting that right. This all depends on what day I forget my password. Better not use that one.

My favorite fictional character? I couldn’t even answer that question on my final exam in American Literature. Okay, how about Moby Dick? Wait, they might not accept animals. Just to look smart I’m going to say King Lear. But I know if I get asked this under pressure after midnight, I’m going to end up saying Bugs Bunny again.

My favorite flower? I don’t have a favorite flower. If I indicate rose, there’s a good chance I’d say chrisanthemum the next time.  Well, maybe not.  I don’t even know how to spell it. Where did you go on your honeymoon? Out West, somewhere in California. It’s been 35 years. Give me a break.

My first girlfriend? I’m going to say it was my wife, Mary Ellen. That’s not true, of course, but if I said Cindy or Ginny, she’d never let me forget it. But I would forget it. Which means I can’t pay my bills online because I can’t remember my password.

What college did you apply to but not attend? Well, that would be all the colleges that rejected me, so let’s see: Syracuse, Northwestern, Boston University…

This is embarrassing. Thanks, anyway. I’d rather be overdrawn.

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