DUNCAN BARKES Far too many magic words to remember

When I finally self-combust in an explosion of frustration and incredulity you can blame the financial services industry.

I have been sent a machine in the post that I must use every time I wish to access my bank account online. This on top of passwords and PIN numbers to remember!

Advances in technology are supposed to make all our lives easier, yet these days a simple call to an insurance company or bank means remembering your father’s inside leg measurement before getting down to business. From booking hotel rooms to ordering the weekly shop, everything requires a password or code.

The past few years has also seen a rise in requests for ‘memorable information’. This may be your mother’s maiden name, other times you are asked to provide a question and answer, such as your first pet’s name. I have taken to using the name of a fine young lady from my rebellious youth with whom I thoroughly enjoyed a one-night-stand. I’m sure she’d be flattered.

My new machine appears to need me to insert my card every time I wish to check my account online. This generates a one-off code, which then allows me to access my account when entered along with my existing unique ID number and a password. By far and away the biggest pain in the backside is if you wish to access your account away from home, then you will need to carry this bit of kit with you.

But mark my words: give it ten years and there will be a security-boosting initiative that will entail visiting offices or branches and being dealt with by a human being; we will have gone full circle.