Where’d you go to elementary school? Who was your first girlfriend? What’s your favorite food? No, these aren’t the questions you should ask on a first date. They’re the questions your bank may soon ask you to verify your identity! For years, anybody calling a bank for account information has been asked the standard security question: “What’s your mother’s maiden name?” As identity theft grows – to the tune of 60 billion dollars annually and 15 million people ripped off in North America alone – and that’s just counting the adult victims of identity theft – banks are stepping up security.

They’re branching out and asking an array of new questions that only you will know the answer to. The questions run the gamut from biographical data, like “In what city was your high school?” To questions that may seem better suited to an online dating profile, like “Who’s your favorite musician?” or “Which sports team do you most like to see lose?” MSNBC says that although these questions may seem overly personal, that’s the whole idea. They’re heavily researched to ensure two things:

  1. That you’ll actually remember the answer
  2. That the answer is unique enough that a hacker or thief couldn’t possibly guess the correct one.

It’s the difference between asking “what’s your favorite team?” – which is usually your home team – and “what team do you like to see lose?” which could be any team. Banks are also starting to pay more attention to your personal habits. So if you go to the ATM every Friday after work and withdraw $300 – it’ll stand out if your ATM card is used on a Tuesday morning for that same withdrawal. The bank may suspect that your account has been compromised. It’s necessary since too many people still use ridiculous methods to remember their password – namely, by sticking a post-it note to their computer screen.