I am standing at the counter of a Woolworths supermarket with all of my shopping bagged up in recyclable bags, ready to put in the trolley. I whip out my wallet and swipe my card and then it happens – I forget my password. That sinking feeling! I don’t really ‘forget’ it as I know that I ‘know’ it, I just can’t recall it right now, at that crucial moment I need it to pay for my shopping. I’m aware of other shoppers with laden trollies behind me sighing loudly at the Old Duck who can’t remember her pin. Out comes the credit card and I pay with that and skulk off with my brain in a tailspin. Most of my shopping is under the $100 limit and I just payWave it, so the personal identification number (PIN) doesn’t get used so often. Then when you have to pay the garage for your car service, for example, your brain just doesn’t recall those four little numbers until perhaps 3am (which is when I often remember things I temporarily forget).
We seem to need passwords for everything. I purchased a new washing machine and had to go online to do the warranty. Even that needed a password. I try to write them down in a little blue notebook, but it bamboozles me when the password mysteriously does not work. Then some important online service like the RTA that you seldom use requires you to update your password because you have now forgotten your old password. It quite rudely asks you for your old password. But I’ve forgotten it, thats why I need a new one. Duh. Oh the stress of it at times. It’s enough to give a grandma a headache.
I inadvertently somehow managed to get a password saver on my iPhone, which I only discovered by accident. It is handy, but I wonder how safe and secure it is. My little blue notebook and my backup of pretend phone numbers and birth dates are a bit dodgy too. A word of warning, do not ever enter your PIN incorrectly on your online banking app as all hell breaks loose and you can’t access your money without a trip to the bank and photo ID. I know, *sigh*, because it has happened to me.
The worst one is my Apple iTunes account. The Apple ID is so security laden with questions, which you must identify yourself with. Like ‘What was your first boyfriend’s name?’ (I don’t know – I knew when I was 15 but that was 50 years ago, and I knew a year ago because it came back to me in a flash when I made up the list of questions, but it eludes me now.) ‘What was your first cat’s name?’ Duh, was it Caspar or Blackie, I can’t remember who came first, but I do remember Caspar’s dead body under the hydrangea bush. They don’t need that information though. Okay, ‘How old was your mother when she got married?’ Hmm, I’ll just go and ask her – hang on, she’s not around any more, she’s in the cemetery with Dad. Now it’s completely shut me out because obviously I am impersonating myself.
Government PINs like MyGov are tricky, and oh the sinking feeling when it rejects you and you know it’s either a three-hour wait on the phone or a visit to the office. Hang on, an automated voice is asking you for your PIN. What PIN? My mind goes blank. I flick through the notebook, I check my online password saver, but nothing helps. Eek! I give up. But wait, theres an app to generate a new PIN, but you need a PIN to get the PIN. Arigh!
I’m a pretty computer savvy old nana. I feel confident with most technology, but both PINs and passwords can be very tricky to navigate and to remember at the times when they are needed. I do think that often I am stressed when I am trying to gain access to something and that of course just makes it worse. I’d love to know how other over-60s navigate the PINs and passwords they use, and I’d love to know any tricks on how to keep them safe, but accessible. PINs and passwords, a necessary evil in the 21st century, and how secure are they anyway.