/ Money, Technology

I can’t remember my *!!@@@@***ing password

In just one week I have not been able to spend money online because I have forgotten my password for authenticating my bank card online! Do banks need to make shopping online so difficult?

I know this is my fault for not remembering my password with the appropriate number and/or symbol and/or mixture of capital and lower-case letters. But I’m coming to the conclusion that while it’s great banks are trying to protect my money, I think they could come up with a more consumer-friendly system…

My fury at online security systems

This week I thought I would be super organised and apply for the Sports Relief mile, take back my daughter’s broken shoes and order a new pair via John Lewis’ website in store, and apply for Paralympics tickets (just before the closing deadline).

I had to endure the joys of ‘quick and easy’ online shopping by getting over the hurdles of completing numerous online pages to provide all sorts of information. Delivery addresses, ages, shoe sizes, billing addresses, event choices, seat prices, Visa number, dates, security code etc.

Each time I was stopped in my tracks by the final page – the dreaded “helpful” online security system to check that I’m the rightful owner of my credit card. The very last piece of information following page after page of the online buying process is leading me to so much frustration!

I have tried to complete this security check. I filled in what I thought was the password, only to be told that I was wrong. I tried another version but then didn’t dare risk another due to fears of not being able to use my credit card at all. I was told that they could email me the password – not much help while I’m in store at John Lewis.

Is it just me?

When I did get home I was able to check my email and was given the chance to provide another password, which I did, only to be told “You cannot use this password, as you have used it before.” Isn’t this the absolutely perfect clue that it’s me trying to use my card?

Maybe I am unusual and just incapable of remembering passwords, but I suspect that other people have not spent money online due to the utter frustration of recalling obscure variations of memorable words and numbers. And I’m not alone, in a previous Conversation about online banking security, Rose commented:

‘Is there anyone who can carry all these passwords/PINs in their head? They must have amazing memories if they can, as each system seems to require a different combination of letters/numbers, plus different frequencies for changing them. So we’re probably all less secure as many people probably write all their passwords & PINs somewhere!’

Shouldn’t banks have another think about making online shopping less frustrating? Especially for the people who would benefit from Sports Relief, my family who may have had the experience of attending the Paralympics and for the poor assistant in John Lewis who had to put up with my fury at being beaten by the online password, again.

Gabbybop says:
5 October 2011

I have a little system that might be a little overkill for people, but it works for me…..
uses a master password made up from a date and name.

Heres how it works:
(example) of date+name: 1993 and Edward
I would split the date and put the name in the middle = 19Edward93
to make it a little more secure I would replace letters with number or symbol = 19Edw4rd93
This is then my MASTER PASSWORD.

To make a unique password for each site I log into I then add the first 2 letters and last 2 letters to the start and end of my master password:

So passwords for a couple of sites as example:
ebay = eb19Edw4rd93ay
paypal = pa19Edw4rd93al
play = pl19Edw4rd93ay

This gives me great security as I have unique passwords for each site, and my master password is meaningful to me….. so I will never forget that either.

People think that my system is overkill, but it works for me 🙂

I use a similar system for my security pwd pins…. never had a problem ;P


Definitely an overkill…. I’ve taken to foreign language words that very few indeed would understand or could have guessed, for good measure, would include a memorable date or two.


Gabby – I think that you are a password genius! I must admit your system looks complicated for me but I will try out your tips.

Gabbybop says:
5 October 2011

It not complicated – it just looks it until you try and use it.

I use an absolute TON of websites, and most people use the same password for all their website accounts, from forums to banking to emails to Facebook. So if someone gets your password once, chances are they can get into lots of accounts with it.

I needed a little system to manage my passwords, and one day in Uni we were coming up with ways to do it. This way stuck in my head, and I just stuck to using it….. it could easily be made more simple to suit.

Mark says:
5 October 2011

I use a very similar system, but I’ve recently been educated as to how unnecessary it is:


What I do now is have one super safe password which I use under LastPass (password manager that can generated and record all other passwords). That’s it. Life’s too short to have to remember dozens of password entries.


So glad someone posted that XKCD comic – as soon as I saw this convo I wanted to add it =)

I find it fairly easy to remember my website passwords, but I am similarly frustrated with the ‘extra’ layer of banking security when you buy something. I may have been known to be a bit childish in the past and set passwords such as ‘ih8thissystem’ or ‘th1s1srubb1sh’ but I don’t think they’ve got the hint.

I’m sure they’re necessary for security, but it’d be good if they gave us a bit more flexibility about our choice of passwords, so we could use the xkcd system and have more memorable (and more secure) ones.


Gabbybop, this sounds like a great idea for having easy-to-remember passwords that are unique to each website, and I have tried it myself in the past, but found that it was not without its problems. Firstly, there are websites with different names that use the same credentials. For example, hotmail.com, live.com and microsoft.com are all websites belonging to Microsoft and they all use the same password. Which two pairs of letters do I choose for the prefix and suffix of my password? If I choose li and ve, then try and login on microsoft.com, I will end up trying to enter the wrong password. Secondly, what about companies that are taken over or change name? For example, Sun became Oracle – should I also change my password to reflect this? I haven’t got the time to get my passwords to chase capital events.


Re Gabby…

Reminds me of a techie of a guy writing for the Independent who was on to this sort of complicated stuff of a mere password…. you’d think he was on to something so ambitious as if wanting to seek/(prevent) access to Fort Knox and spirit all of the contents out…… for want of a better comparison.

If negligence cannot be proved, any loss sustained in a third-party financial transaction falls entirely on the other side.


I’ve had to come up with various stategies over the years to remember passwords and not write them down:

If you always use a computer from the same location (office / home), you can use passwords associated with objects in your field of vision. OK