2

An interesting thing happened on almost every bank and credit-card website UI I used today: I entered absolutely correct data. And the system updated/refreshed, either through a refresh or some sort of AJAX activity...

... and it intentionally discarded one part of my entry. We're all familiar with credit card sale screens that refresh and discard your card's CVV2 number (that one, I thought, was due to PCI-DSS). Not that, but other things quite similar - often losing data that isn't particularly sensitive. These are household name Fortune 100 companies, not small nor incompetent. So here's my question: Is that a thing?

Is there a UX reason to intentionally induce errors-of-omission into form submission and force users to correct things when their data was correct in the first place? Is there some science to support this?

Or are trivial UX mistakes just super common on financial sites?

  • From casual browsing, I can't say I've noticed this (besides deliberately omitted ones, like CSC/CVV; or just plain bad forms that don't preserve anything). Did you notice any correlation between the field you were just in / just moved to and the field that got lost? – TripeHound Oct 20 '17 at 11:08
  • @TripeHound Nope. It's like "why'd you drop that? – Harper Oct 20 '17 at 16:20
2

Yes, discarding seemingly trivial information on form fills is common on financial sites. This has to do with concerns about exposing identifiable or nonpublic information.

There are two types of information financial sites are particularly sensitive in handling, PII (Personally Identifiable Information) or NPI (Nonpublic Personal Information). The punishment for exposing PII or NPI can be severe (up to $1 million in fines and/or 5 years in prison under GLBA), so it's easy to see why financial institutions pay special attention to any information, no matter how inconsequential it may seem to us as users.

What's more, PII & NPI can have a very broad interpretation. A very incomplete list of PII & NPI might include:

  • Name
  • Aliases
  • SSN
  • Date of Birth
  • Place of Birth
  • Mother's Maiden Name
  • Biometric Records
  • Email Address
  • Home Address
  • Telephone Numbers
  • Credit Card Numbers
  • ID Numbers (Drivers License/Passport/Etc.)
  • Photos
  • Religious Affiliation
  • Gender
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Marital Status
  • Employment Information
  • Education History
  • IP Address

...etc. You get the idea-- there's A LOT out there that could, potentially, be considered PII or NPI.

That's not to say that, from a UX perspective, financial institutions aren't overzealous in how they protect PII in form fills. Often, this information is discarded on form submission so that there's no concern about liability when passing PII/NPI back and forth between company servers and the user's machine.

This behavior certainly detrimental to usability. However, this is one area where most UX pros will not win a battle against the corporate legal team, regardless of the correctness of their usability arguments.

  • 1
    i think this is unrelated to the question – amara Oct 20 '17 at 6:19
  • 2
    Sorry, @naiad, I couldn't disagree more. The question was whether or not discarding form data was common to financial sites. My answer states that it is, largely due to PII/NPI concerns. Perhaps my answer wasn't 100% clear. I've edited it to make it more clear. – denveruxer Oct 20 '17 at 14:44
  • 1
    I never saw the behavior the OP describes, but reading your answer it looks very clear for me why they do it. And yes, I think this is a great answer and completely related to question. One question though: since I never saw this in South America or Europe and you mention legal reasons as well, is it possible this kind of behavior is localized, more specifically to US? – Devin Oct 20 '17 at 16:59
  • why would it intentionally discard only one part of the entry, if PII includes many parts of typical entries? – amara Oct 21 '17 at 4:29
  • 1
    @Devin - absolutely. My experience is is design for US financial sites. I can't speak for regulations in South America or Europe. – denveruxer Oct 23 '17 at 19:56

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.