Sunday, July 06, 2008

Banking like a spy

We could subtitle this "Banking in Canada versus banking in the UK".

From my experiences, it seems that banking in the UK tries to be much more secure than in Canada.

Opening a new account
Canada: Went into the supermarket (since it's PC Financial), told the guy working there I wanted an account. We filled out all the forms, he gave me a temporary card and I set the PIN on it using the bank machine. He told me that I'd get my new card, with my name printed on it, in the mail and that the PIN would be the one I'd just selected. I walked out with a working bank card.

UK: I went to the bank and filled out the forms. Was then told that they would send me a bank card in the post.

When I got the bank card, the letter attached said I had to go into the bank to activate it. I did that when I could get to town, and was told by the people at the bank that now I would have to wait for them to send me a PIN for the card in the mail.

Some days later I received the letter containing the pin, the numbers being written as words instead of numeric characters. With that, I went to a bank machine, entered the pin and then changed it to one of my own choosing. Only then did I have a working bank card.

I thought all the rigmarole that I went through might have been due to me being foreign, but having seen other banking procedures in the UK now, I think they put everyone through that. Like with online banking...

Setting up online banking
Canada: While setting up my new account, the guy asked me if I wanted online banking. I said yes, he did something in his computer, and told me to go to the website within so many days. I think I was probably given a temporary password. Logged in with my bank card number and that, changed the password, and that's what I still use to log in today.

So I went into the bank, told the lady there the story, and she did a few things on her computer. Then she gave me a piece of paper with my "customer number" on it and told me that I would get information on how to go about setting everything up in the mail. I thought she meant e-mail (this being an online thing and all), but she meant regular mail. It was weeks before I actually got the letter what with my travelling. The letter instructed me on where to go online, etc. but first I had to get an activation code. This code was in the letter but not just printed there. There was a little plastic rectangle covering up a grey box. My instructions (should I choose to accept them) were to turn the letter over, use the perforations to tear the paper behind the plastic, scratch away the metallic dust stuff (like with a prize scratch ticket), then turn the letter over and place it on a white surface in order to view the code. Then I could enter this information on the website and - lo and behold! - internet banking.

I just logged into my online banking services for the first time since I set it up. I have to use the customer number I was initially given. Then I was presented with six questions, along the lines of "Enter the 4th character of your password" and "Enter the 2nd digit of your personal identification number" (I had two set up the password and PIN the first time).

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