2-Factor alternatives

A reader responded to my article suggesting that everyone enable 2-factor authentication if it’s available.

“This is all swell, but I haven’t so far found but 1-2 entities that allow 2-factor authentication by any means except text message. I do not have a text-enabled phone. It’s not true that everyone on the planet has the ability to receive texts. Many institutions, even, recommend 2-factor authentication but provide no alternative to text messages so not everyone can use it. Just sayin’.”


To be fair to companies, roughly around 90% of adult Americans have a mobile phone and more than 90% of those people say they’ve used it for texting at one time or another. That’s around the same number of people who report using email and roughly equal to the number of households that report owning a home computer.

I think many places go with texting because most people usually have their phones on them, so it’s convenient and you don’t have to deal with the possibility of your message being knocked out by spam filters and texting is the preferred method of communication for a lot of people.

Early in the week, I told you about the security concerns expressed about text-messages used for 2-factor authentication. (Click here to read that article.)

But the suggested alternative to that is an authentication app on your smartphone, which is again something that not everyone has. Now some organizations will allow you to input an email address or even select a voice call. But, setting up multiple channels of communication for 2-factor authentication is a lot more work and expense for companies.  With texts, I think they’re just aiming for the most common method of communication.

That said, it’s certainly a good idea to contact companies that don’t offer text alternatives and ask that they provide you with another means. And I would go so far to say that, if you are financially and physically able, getting the least expensive text plan possible and using it only for the purpose of two-factor authentication might actually be worth it.

But if texting just won’t work for you, all I can advise is to set up two-factor authentication wherever it is available via email or voice call.



2 thoughts on “2-Factor alternatives

  1. I wrote the comment you posted. My phone is capable of receiving texts, but I had my provider disable that feature because I despise them. When I first purchased the phone, I received quite a few texts. They were all spam. Unless I purchase a plan, I have to pay for each text. So, I had to pay for each piece of junk I received. My provider suggested I purchase a plan. The cheapest plan offered is more than I am willing to pay for something I despise. My response, “If I don’t want to pay you for each unsolicited ad text I receive, why would I want to pay you monthly for the ability to receive endless garbage?” By default, the phone makes a noise each time there is a text, which is very distracting, but it is possible to disable the noise. But it isn’t possible to disable the complete waste of time involved in reviewing and deleting all the horse sh*t. For those who seem to think their hearts would stop if they didn’t text, and who ask how I get along without it, the answer is, “I talk to people.” I also use email. The spam and ads I don’t care to read are easy to delete. If people don’t want to talk with me and don’t want to correspond with me, that’s OK. It would not be worth it for me to purchase a text-messaging plan to use only for 2-factor authentication because there is no reasonably convenient way to screen out or block everything else.

  2. Some of us are not ‘married’ to their phones. I also know that although it’s a bit out of the norm, but some of us live in a ‘dead zone’ and have no cell signal unless you have one of those $600+ phones… (due to reception issues). I am not buying an expensive phone just so I can get a cell signal at home most of the time.. so texting is not for us. I agree with Patricia, you can call me or email me, or leave me alone.

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