Online Banking: Kafka Meets Catch 22


In my last post, I wrote about my experience of being robbed by an ATM while visiting family in Costa Rica. This had nothing to do with my own bank, in fact, I am currently relying on them to help me get my money back. However, I discovered another glitch in the banking system as a result of this incident.

Upon returning to my in-law’s place after the highway – supermarket? – robbery, I immediately checked my account to see what I hoped would be a lack of debit. I got out my tablet and set to the task of signing in to the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) online banking site. Given the Costa Rican IP address, it was evident I was not at my usual place of sign-in. No problem, in fact, a sign of security on the part of CIBC as they would not let me sign on without verifying I was who I am.

So there I was trying to verify that, like Popeye, I am who I am and that’s all what I am.

They gave me two options: they could send me a one-time verification code by email or text. Fine and dandy. In an effort to avoid exorbitant roaming fees I keep my iPhone on airplane mode while in Costa Rica. This means no text from the bank was received, assuming once again a Costa Rican IP address. No problem, I’ll use the email option.

Upon selecting this means of verifying myself, I ask for the code to be sent to the email address I have associated with my account. It’s a Yahoo Mail address. The bank app showed that they will no longer use free, unencrypted mail servers for verification. Oops….

So there I was trying to verify that, like Popeye, I am who I am and that’s all what I am. But to no avail.

I called the free customer service number and spoke with a friendly fellow. I explained my plight and he said it could be fixed by using the second email address attached to the account. However, and this is where things get Kafkaesque, my other email is with my server Videotron, and many banks, evidently including mine, will not use them due to security breaches.

So, I needed to change the email associated with my bank account, but couldn’t do that without verifying, via a code to the old email, that I’m me. Talk about a Catch-22!

So, I needed to change the email associated with my bank account, but couldn’t do that without verifying, via a code to the old email, that I’m me. Talk about a Catch-22!

By now I have been passed to Natasha, the call centre manager. She understands the situation I’m in and suggests I open a Protonmail encrypted email account, with which the CIBC is comfortable. I do so but still can’t understand how I can get it attached to my banking account. Here’s where Natasha does her magic and, after confirming that I’m me by way of emails, she adds it to my profile.

Within minutes I’m up and running again. On the one hand, this was a most frustrating undertaking, yet in the end, it all worked out because a person, an actual human being, Natasha, was able to override the system and fix the problem. Bravo, Natasha!

Published by DCMontreal

DCMontreal - Deegan Charles Stubbs - is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

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