Smith Barney recently began forcing it’s clients to change their Web login in what is claimed to be a “security enhancement” maneuver. This applies to every client in the US that has a joint account (ie- married couples).
They are forcing this change in conjunction with the requirement of adding challenge questions and answers to each account, but they don’t list the reason for inconveniencing what must be hundreds of thousands, or millions, of clients. In fact, they claim:
Today Smith Barney’s nearly 12,400 Financial Consultants serve more than 7.5 million client accounts representing nearly $900 billion in client assets.
I have to assume that at least half of their clients have linked accounts so, as far as I am aware, that would make this the biggest forced user name change in Internet history.
Beginning sometime in the last few days, when clients attempt to log into their account they are forced to select a new user name. The system absolutely will not allow you to select your current user name, or any of the millions of other user names already in use – even if they are being forcibly abandoned by this change.
Next, clients are prompted to give at least 4 challenge answers to a set of predetermined questions. As I’ve stated previously, this does not provide real added security, only inconvenience for U.S. clients. Meanwhile Citibank, Smith Barney’s parent, is developing advanced biometric security mechanisms for India’s poor.
Smith Barney’s Client Security page states:
You can customize your User Name and Password the first time you sign on Smith Barney Access and change them whenever you like.
Since I was forced to change my user name I attempted to log in and change it back to the original – but the system wouldn’t let me. It just gives a cryptic error stating “Choose another username”.