Monday, 17 August 2009

The KGB could never touch me, but as for those gormless droids...

My star sign? Not a question I was expecting. Mother's maiden name perhaps, or the name of my first pet*. You know, the standard security questions. Given a choice I always go for the pet name, it feels a bit more secure, not even the KGB could know the name of my first pet. Unless little Bovril was a spy I suppose. Sometimes I mix it up a little, adding some extra security by giving the name of my second pet, or my sister's pet, or even an imaginary pet. In short, I am uncrackable.

"I don't know my star sign," I said, suffering briefly from an inferiority complex, " but how about I simply tell you my date of birth?"

"Sorry Sir, " she replied curtly, "but we are not allowed to ask that any more. For security reasons."

She, I imagine, titillated with reason. My reason, on the other hand, was shafted. I trembled, groping about blindly in the depths of my mind. No light, no handrail, just confusion. All I wanted to do was inform the credit card company of a change of address, and now I was answering a quiz on the Zodiac. (Perhaps I was going mad, mad as the fruitcake I saw in a pub recently. Having bought a carbonated bottle of cider he spent ten minutes pouring it repeatedly from one pint glass to another. I asked him why he was doing this. "To get rid of the bubbles," he said. Or as mad as his companion, an old man dressed entirely in denim. This nutter ordered "blackcurrent and soda" and spent the next half hour playing with the ring tones on his phone.)

"You can find out your star sign in a newspaper or magazine, " she added helpfully.

"Listen," I said, "I'm not an astronomer, or an astrologer." Or Mystic Meg. "I wouldn't be seen dead reading the charts. What possible reason do I have for knowing my star sign? How about I just tell you the month I was born in?" The only thing I care less about than star signs is netball, celebrity gossip or Madonna's adoption plans. Screw that, I care even less about Coleslaw. The last time someone (in jest) read me my horoscope it was completely wrong. Instead of having "my lucky day" I got stuck on a train for two hours that broke down on the one part of the line that had no mobile phone reception.

"Sorry Sir..."

"Madness," I said, "this is supposedly a secure banking line and nobody but you can hear me." I glanced over my shoulder at the impatient queue of gormless droids behind me. They glared back. They could almost certainly hear me, the bank was laid out in typically incompetent fashion, but telling the truth would spoil my argument. "I've already told you my name, old address, new address and credit card number. If someone is listening in they already have enough information to bleed me dry. From what I remember there are twelve star signs, and twelve months, what's the difference? In this rational age how can you expect me to know my star sign?"

"Your star sign is Gemini," she said brusquely, "remember it for next time."

*I don't know if this security question appears outside of Britain, but it always appears as a default or example security question - for all sorts of services.

62 comments:

Hit 40 said...

When my primary computer died, I also had this awful interrogation happen to me when I used a different computer to pay my bills on line. I was asked questions like where my vacation home was located. I have a vacation home??? REALLY???

JennyMac said...

How NUTS. I know my own and don't pay a bit of attention to horoscope/signs/zodiac/year of pig/dog/rat. You should have said HUNG. Just for fun of course. Because asserting "hung" was a sign of the zodiac (and shouldnt it be?) makes as much sense as the question you were being asked in the first place.

g said...

Entirely in denim? Even his underwear?

My first pet was a cat named Petunia, and there's no way I'm using that for a security code.

Mr. Condescending said...

I've never seen star sign here in the states. Its always

Mothers maiden name, favorite pet, elementary school, city you were born in, or favorite teacher.

I would suggest "favorite sex position!"

Gaston Studio said...

I have to write all those security questions down (NOT on the computer BTW) as I'd never be able to remember them all; but your sign? Ye Gods!

Left something for you on my post today.

Eric said...

I always give them the 275th GUID in my CLSID section of my computer's registry, salted with the 225th prime number, then shifting the bits by the remainder of a division involving the seven day moving average degrees of inclination over the horizon of the stars 'Sirus' and 'Betelgeuse'.
But that's just me.

erin said...

That was 'nice' that she told you anyways. I think they can just hang up on you if they think you're being a dick.

This one time I was yelling at, I mean reprimanding, one of the kids while I was on hold with a utility...but I wasn't really on hold and the lady was like 'Oh Okay...now I'm going to hang up and you're going to have to wait another hour! You should rethink your attitude.'

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

You should have told her 'Ophiuchus', the Zodiac sign that got dropped because of the stigma of ill luck that comes along with the number 13.

Tristan Robin Blakeman said...

another gemini here

as if anybody gives a rip

when people used to ask me my sign, I would reply 'yield' - but they never got it.

Sassy Britches said...

Yep, we always get the pet here in the States. But Zodiac sign? Seriously, that's not something someone would just KNOW, they'd have to have extra knowledge for it. It's like ethnic cleansing or survival of the fittest: you have to have a certain knowledge or skill beyond what regular people have in order to bank there. Harumph. Discrimination, I tell you.

Minka said...

I only see these security questions online when I want to register somewhere. LOL! Will you remember it now?

Maybe you should also read a little about Gemini - so you know what you are like...

Gwen said...

You have Modays, I have Gwednesday, and all is right in the world.

BTW, I am also a Gemini. It's really the only acceptable sign to be, so congrats!

Trinity said...

How is that a valid security question? If you know the person's birthday it would be easy to break that code. Stupid.

And you couldn't use favorite sexual position because some of those things have character counts.

Scope said...

m of two minds over the Gemini question...

Captain Dumbass said...

I'm a Gemini too, and so am I.

I like the favourite sex position question too. Make them squirm.

ladytruth said...

You hate netball?! No, Mo! That's my livelihood right there! Well, kind of. If we want to get all technical, it's not really, but it ups my street credit.

The anwser to the Super secret security question? I just always give the name of ... no wait! I can't just blabber it all out for all eyes to see. You almost got me there ... ;)

Call Me Cate said...

I agree, that's a dumb question. I'd have exclaimed "here's your sign!" and flipped her off! Well, no, not really. But it would make a good story.

Ananda girl said...

Ha! I'm going to look forward to Modays!

I have a terrible time with my passwords. Remembering which goes to what. I have to email and reset them by picking new ones... which adds to the pile of ones that I can't recall and increasing my anxiety over passwords.

Are we really safer with security? It is nuts!

otherworldlyone said...

I always make the answers to those security questions as dirty as possible without actually being, ya know, dirty. My way of sticking it to The Man.

Zodiac sign...psssh!

Slyde said...

i almost ALWAYS go for "mothers maiden name".

i know its probably the worse one to take in terms of security, but im just too lazy to use anything else..

Simon said...

That’s pretty bizarre. I only know my astrological sign because I’m into things like mythology and folk-beliefs; otherwise I would have no idea.

Even worse, your ‘birth sign’ is supposed to be the constellation the sun was in at the time of your birth, but thanks to the precession of the equinoxes it has now shifted pretty well one month since the system first came into use in Roman times.

I was born in mid May, making my birth sign Taurus, but the sun is actually in Aries at that time. Yet I doubt if many people would be expected to answer ‘what constellation was the sun in at the time of your birth?’

Still, you showed admirable self-restraint, and she was only asking what she’d been told to ask by some moron higher up the corporate ladder.

The Peach Tart said...

I've never heard of the star sign being used as a security question. Luckily if I ever move to the UK I do know mine. Glad to see you back if for only one day a week:)

ellen abbott said...

You must have hit a time warp back to the 70s.

ladytruth said...

I have an award waiting for you over at my blog ;)

Matthew said...

I have one specific question - but with one stock, incorrect answer that I remember without fail. Given the lack of funds available to would-be heisters, this stable door's been bolted way too late, now I think about it.

Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) said...

Are you sure she wasn't just trying to pick you up? You know, the old as dirt and lame 'What's your sign, you handsome devil you?' ;)

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

Happy Moday.

What's your sign? She was totally hitting on you. Totally.

Comedy Goddess said...

So like a Gemini to respond the way you did!

blognut said...

So... you're a gemini?

What's your credit card number?

I've got some shopping to do.

Jeanne said...

They used your SIGN to verify your identity? That doesn't seem especially secure.

Tennyson ee Hemingway said...

I've never heard of this before. But then again, I know my star sign and yes, I read the stars. That doesn't mean I believe them. And all denim? Really?

Samsmama said...

Moday? Brilliant!

I've never been asked that and agree that it's ridiculous. And the favorite sexual position suggestion was genius!

Amy said...

She, I imagine, titillated with reason. My reason, on the other hand, was shafted.

I love that.

Mondays - ugh. I post recipes on Monday so you'll not get a bit of anything decent from me. Unless you take up cooking.

cactus petunia said...

WTF?! I'm surrounded by Geminis! I should have known...

The Vegetable Assassin said...

I enjoy the security questions where they let you choose your own question. I always go for something so insane (and at the time, clever!) that even I can't remember the answer next time I'm prompted. The question it really SHOULD ask is, "What sort of moron makes up their own, vague security questions?" and the answer should be "me".

The Stiletto Mom said...

Once again proving that the UK is fun, what a hilarious security question!

Also, what a great idea to just blog/comment one day a week, it's taken over my evenings at this point!

blueviolet said...

Date of birth is plastered all over our driver's licenses...but now that's a security risk?

And, did I read that right in that you actually called her madness? LOL

♥ Braja said...

Only in the UK....

Wait. I have a British passport...

Damn.

Comedy Goddess said...

And you're welcome for my coining of Mo'day!

Michel said...

Dude, you gotta watch that pet thing too - because BELIEVE ME, when you go to answer, you have to remember what year it was when you set it up b/c your pets change - and if you're like me, you don't want to hurt the other guy's feelings, so you give the other dogs' name as the pet and the next thing you know, you're locked out.

WTF!?

Star Sign? My mother would freak out! She once told me that I shouldn't be reading horoscopes because the bible forbids it. I have never been able to do it after that b/c I'm afraid I'll piss God off (more).

UK is going to get totally smoted.

diane said...

Oh, you're a Gemini, NOW I have enough info to bleed you dry.

Debbie said...

I can barely remember my real name. Security questions completely baffle me. I just give up.

Nej said...

You better look up what year you were born (cat, rooster, monkey, ox, etc)...just in case. You never know when they'll ask it of you! :-)

The Jules said...

By knowing your star sign they can eliminate eleven twelfths of the population, reducing the chances that you aren't who you say you are to a measly 5 million.

Job done!

Alan Burnett said...

Mo : Thanks for the message. My main blog is News From Nowhere - http://newsfromnowhere1948.blogspot.com/. Good to hear you are moving up here and that you like beer - there are some fine pubs to visit. Never read Belloc. Do you recommend?

bernthis said...

never heard of that happening here. I had to laugh my friend and laugh LOUD

the girl with the pink teacup said...

Next time someone asks you for your star sign as a security precaution (?) just tell them that you've outsourced knowing useless information to your twin.

Incidentally, what was your bank account number again?

LiLu said...

That is EXACTLY how I got caught with a fake ID once. FAIL.

SweetPeaSurry said...

Seriously, your star sign? Hell half of my online personas include my doggone star sign. What an incompetant security question! I would have bleepity bleep bleeped her ears off in a way that would have made Gordon Ramsay proud!!!

Blessings!

The Rambler said...

Oh geez.

I feel like I need to take my super secret book with me filled with all the stupid secret questions/answers for all the different sites.

And sometimes at my restaurant watching people at the bar can be so entertaining. Although...I did have to ask a couple to take their pleasure seeking togetherness elsewhere. Off the barstool in front of families.

Crazy people.

Madame DeFarge said...

I loathe this game of 20 questions we have to play. For my credit card protection website, I have to answer all sorts of baffling questions about actors, holidays, colours and probably even sexual preferences. I just want to add a new credit card in the protection racket. And I pay for this service. Grump.

jadedj said...

Zodiac sign? Fools...anybody could give that one, if they knew your birth date.

We had a mass murderer here in the states, who was know as the Zodiac Killer. He was never caught. Every time I hear that term I think of this.

I had a run in, AND was refused service in a chain operated home improvement store. I wanted to purchase a $1.50 item. I had cash. The clerk wanted my phone number. I said, you don't need it. I do, we need it for our records. I said, there's way too much information about me out there, and you do not need my phone number...for any reason. The manager came over. We need it, or we can't ring it up. They wouldn't sell it to me. Now, that is as retarded as it gets, methinks. Went down the street to a mom and pop store. No problem.

jadedj said...

Oh...I haven't been over here in awhile and was wondering why I wasn't getting updates. Sorry to hear you're going to be a lesser blogger. Do understand, however...especially when my family, goes, oh, don't bother him, he's on his blog. Maybe I should follow your lead.

Lola Lakely said...

I always get the question about the first pet I ever had? Christ, I can't remember that now. Stupid security people.

The Demigoddess said...

That's raving mad! In the Philippines they ask you for your at least one star sign compatible to your sign. Even more difficult. I guess that's why it's a standard security question.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

You have 55 comments. I did not even officially take the week off blogging and am at the bottom of the pack. HMPF. What the hell was I doing on Monday? Oh yeah, work. I guess I am a weekend blog reader.

The star sign question is weird. Especially that they even call it star sign. Technically, isn't it astrological sign?

San Diego Momma said...

Her name was Nugget.
She was a beautiful Golden Retriever that died before her time.

Nugget.

Yes they have that question in the States and it breaks my heart.

I loved Nugget.

Don't go telling everybody.

Twenty Four At Heart said...

I hate questions for security purposes. I've never been asked my astrological sign, but they do constantly asked my mom's maiden name. I wasn't born before she was married and I find it very difficult to remember. Why can't they ask the easy stuff like what we had for breakfast that day? : )

Maria Roth said...

I can't believe you didn't know your own star sign! I understand your frustration with those damn security questions in general, though. I was once "asked" by some website who my favorite high school teacher was, and I honestly had no clue. I'm fond of about five of my former h.s. teachers, but hadn't ever considered which was my favorite!

Girl Interrupted said...

You were in a Northern Rock bank, weren't you?

They're probably going to start offering their clients a daily horoscope service as a sideline to bring in the extra revenue

"Gemini ... Your luck is about to change today, which could be for better or worse ... but definitely better if you don't withdraw all your funds from your Northern Rock account. You should definitely NOT withdraw all your funds ... no matter what you hear on the news"

Tooj said...

I don't recall having ever been asked this. However, knowing that you are a Gemini explains sooooo much! Thanks for the info. :)

Vodka Mom said...

I have NEVER been asked that. and I've been asked some weird stuff..........

As I have quite a few new readers since I became a "Jelly Biter" I've put this up here again. To understand the context you must read this post!