GET HELP WITH YOUR PENNKEY
Several common PennKey registration and usage problems
are addressed on this page. Additional PennKey-related questions are addressed
in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).
This error indicates that some of your information (Setup Code, date
of birth, or last four digits of your Social Security Number (SSN)) was
entered incorrectly. Be sure to observe the following when you enter this
- Setup Code - Setup Codes have seven characters and are case-sensitive.
A Setup Code must be typed exactly as given.
- Date of birth - Four digits are required for the year, e.g.,
"1980" not just "80."
- SSN - Enter only the last four digits of your Social Security
Number (SSN). The eight-digit number you received with your Setup Code
letter is your PennID, not your SSN, which has nine digits.
If you are absolutely certain you are entering correct information, you
may be mistyping your information.
- Check that caps lock and the num lock
are not turned on.
- Some web browsers have "autocomplete" features which automatically
capitalize the initial letter when filling out web forms. Be sure to
disable this feature.
This is a common and frustrating problem. Dictionary
does not simply mean a standard English language dictionary -- it also
includes foreign language dictionaries and all kinds
of specialized dictionaries that hackers use to crack
For example, the string "xyzzy" is found in a computer dictionary
-- it's a term from an early computer game and has found its way into
password cracking dictionaries, so it is not a suitable password
The following approach can be helpful in choosing a password: Make up
a sentence that's meaningful to you. Then use the first letter of each
word as a letter in your password; if you wish, add additional characters
to make it more difficult to guess.
- Start with the phrase such as Orange elephants invade
Alaska; film at eleven.
- Take the first letter of each word as your password: OeiAfae
(This is an acceptable password; it follows the rules
but is hard for someone to guess since it's essentially a random string
- To make the password even harder to guess, add punctuation, numbers,
and other non-alphanumeric symbols: OeiA;f@11
You may be entering your PennKey and password incorrectly
or there may be a problem with the service you are trying to access. To
determine a course of action, do the following:
1. Be sure you are using the correct case when entering your PennKey
- PennKeys are all lowercase. If your PennKey is "smith" you
must enter smith not SMITH or Smith.
- Passwords are case-sensitive. You must enter your password exactly
as you created it.
- Some browsers have an auto-complete feature which
capitalizes the first letter of anything entered in a Web form field.
This can interfere with PennKey and password entry, so be sure to turn
off this feature if it's on.
- CAPS LOCK may have been on when you set your PennKey
password. Type your PennKey in all lower case, but try typing your password
with all CAPS to see if that works.
2. Try accessing the PennKey
test page to rule out problems with your PennKey.
3. If you can access the test page after entering your PennKey and password,
the problem you are having with authentication to another service is related
to that service, and you should contact the provider of the service directly.
Contact information usually appears on the web page to which you are trying
4. If you can't access the test page after entering your PennKey and
password, you will need to obtain a PennKey
Setup Code and return to the PennKey
registration application to reset your PennKey and password.