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When did banking become 20 questions?

Byline: CHRISUPTON

It's the moment I dread. "I just have a couple of security questions," says the call centre operative at my (not so local) bank. And then I wonder whether I have to recall the name of my first dog or the name of the second, or the second name of the first, or what my favourite colour was last year.

It's all to do with money laundering, I know. And it matters not that the only money laundering taking place in our house is when I accidentally leave a fiver in my pocket, when my trousers go into the washing-machine. This sits alongside paper handkerchief laundering and the pulping of someone's business card.

Is it my paranoia, or the bank's, that this ritual interrogation is getting longer, and helps to explain that I am current "No. 8" in the queue, and the call centre is experiencing high levels of demand ? Last week I needed to check the nature of a standing order, explained only by a series of cryptic numbers and letters on the statement.

Was it being paid as part of Montezuma's ransom? The automated voice asked for my account number, then the bank sort code, then my date of birth, then the CVC number on the back of my debit card.

You would imagine that, at the end of this little lot, I had established my identity, short of donating a tongue scraping.

But no, there was more. "I have a couple of security questions..." said the real person in a distant voice.

"There's a recent payment to the Bay View Hotel on your card," she tells me. "How much was this for ?" OK, I think, we did stay at a hotel with that name, and even if, in our case, the place should have been renamed the Back Garden View Hotel, I did pay them. But was it cheap or pricey? "Er...it was about PS180, I think... No wait, it was a better deal than that. The bill came to about PS120."

"I'm sorry, sir, I have to accept your first answer."

"Is this some kind of TV quiz show?" I ask her. But she has gone.

Dr Chris Upton is currently experiencing a low volume of calls at Newman University Birmingham
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 22, 2013
Words:378
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