Odds are good that your bank has, at some point, asked for your mother’s maiden name. Security questions are as ubiquitous, Slate’s Josh Levin writes, as they are absurd. Coming up with easy-to-remember, but hard-to-guess, questions is nearly impossible. Paris Hilton’s account, for example, was hacked when someone divined her favorite pet’s name.
This is all a money-saving issue for the banks, Levin explains. Calling to retrieve your password from a person costs them $10. Security questions are free, and simple enough for even Paris to understand. But there’s a fundamental disconnect between banking’s concrete absolutes and our inconsistent minds. Levin wants banks to pony up for less-stupid, and more-secure, phone-based systems.