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Treasury Direct New Login Process: No More Passcards!

Treasury Direct [3] is the website setup by the Treasury Department for managing electronic bonds. I use it whenever I go to buy savings bonds, such as Series I Bonds [4], but I hate logging in. You have to enter in your username, then your password, then three letter/numbers off this arcane passcard. It’s just one step but looking on this card just seems so silly.

I understand why they have it. You can authenticate someone by something they have, something they know, and something they are (or a combination). The something they have is that passcard (something they know is a password and something they are is biometrics) and it adds an additional layer of security. If you’ve seen those RSA keys where it displays a number that changes every fifteen minutes, that’s a beefed up version of a passcard.

Well, Treasury Direct is becoming friendlier (albeit less secure) and they’ll doing away with the passcard. I’m thrilled.

Logging In For The First Time (Again)

Whenever you log in, it will try to recognize your computer. If it can’t, they’ll email you a one-time passcode that is valid for two hours. When I did it the first time, the email appeared in seconds. You copy and paste that into the field, click “Remember This Computer” if you want to, and then proceed.

From there, you’ll see the familiar “keyboard” you always entered your password. Once you key that in, you’ll be asked to pick a “personalized” image from a panel of images and enter in a caption (only letters and numbers). After that, you have the option of editing your information (I went to change an email), but otherwise you get pushed to the same first page you’re probably familiar with.

One thing you’ll notice is that you no longer need the passcard!

The next time you login, you’ll see your image, your caption, and the keyboard to enter in your password. After you do that, you’re in!

It’s one less step and while I didn’t log in all the time, I like it a lot.