It seems to be a common practice of credit card and banking web sites to ask answers to secret questions each time you log in from a new computer (for obvious reasons)

There are many frustrating issues with this pattern...

  1. The user can't accurately remember the answer or the answer changed. (Did I type Texas with a capital or lowercase letter? Does it matter? Maybe I typed Fish?)
  2. The question doesn't work for the user. (I have no clue what the make and model of my first car was. Maybe I'll just type Fish.)
  3. The question is not safe and could be discovered or guessed by others. (My mother's last name is fairly common so maybe I'll type Fish. Nope, it won't let me type Fish again dang it I'll never be able to log in)

Is there any way to improve this interaction because I absolutely hate it.

  • 2
    Trash that stupid "security" feature and put some real security, like two factor authentication via SMS and authenticator app (please add both, let users choose what's better for them).
    – user42730
    Commented Jan 24, 2015 at 8:59

1 Answer 1


Although not widely used, there are may different ways you can do this. Some include:

1. Ask the user his/her most recent transaction
This would be good, because it is something that the user would definitely remember, as it would be very recent, and would not be easy to forget (Maybe add this if a big transaction was made, or a transaction that relates to the user's other interests).

2. Let the user enter in their own question(s), and then let that be the question. Kind of like a 'second answer', but one that the user has no reason to accidentally tell somebody, while remaining easily remembered.
So many times I have had to pick a rigid question, some of which do not apply to me, only to pick the closest one, or add a fake pair altogether.

3. Get the user to enter their most recent change to their account (If it applies)
This is something that, once again, is easily memorable, and only the user would know it first off.

4. Remove it altogether
This would easily be the fastest solution, and would remove some stress off of the user every time they log in. This would also be kind of sloppy for a bank, but really, it would be simpler and easier.

So those are just some ways that you could fix it, and although they are all based on asking the user a question, it gives the user more choice, and makes it easier for them overall.

Good Luck!

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