A network authentication system provides verification of the identity or other attributes of a network user to conduct a transaction, access data or avail themselves of other resources. The user is presented with a hierarchy of queries based on wallet-type (basic identification) and non-wallet type (more private) information designed to ensure the identity of the user and prevent fraud, false negatives and other undesirable results. A preprocessing stage is employed to ensure correct formatting of the input information and clean up routine mistakes (such as missing digits, typos, etc.) that might otherwise halt the transaction. The authenticator can be configured to require differing levels of input or award differing levels of authentication according to security criteria.