Do NOT try to protect yourself from Credit Card Fraud

This past Saturday I purchased some software over the Internet (yes, I actually *do* pay for my software..). As part of the transaction I elected to use my VISA card.

Once I had entered the credit card information and clicked “Submit” a curious screen came up purporting to be some kind of confirmation screen. Among other details that it wanted to collect were the last 4 digits of my social security number. Being a reasonably aware netizen I decided that this was too hokey for me and elected to cancel the transaction. I knew that it was *probably* legitimate, but quite frankly I was not feeling too comfortable giving out additional info like that for a simple $30 purchase. I finished the transaction using paypal instead.

Well, fast forward to yesterday (Thursday) and my wife calls me. She was trying to make a purchase for yet more greeting cards and the $5 transaction had been declined by the credit card company. I checked online and my account wouldn’t show up on it’s secured web site so I called Chase (my VISA card brand owner) and found that the decision to cancel out of the transaction had flagged my account 5 days later as a potential fraud risk. I spoke with the fraud rep and they cleared everything up and I was able to use the card to buy gas on the way home an hour or so later.

Checking my online status this morning finds that the account is still missing from the Chase web site. So I called them up and they tell me that the account likely won’t show up for a few more days due to it’s “fraud status”. They ever so kindly offered me a new card that I could use right away (preapproved for a whole $500!) that I could cancel once my other card was up and running. Not sure how they’d get it to me in any kind of relevant time frame.

Anyway, the lessons learned from this:

  • If anyone asks for any amount of information regarding your credit card online, just give it to them
  • If your card information is stolen online, apparently the thieves have nearly a week to use it
  • As fast as the fraud alert is at being set on your account, it’s apparently just as fast at being removed.

This isn’t crippling, just annoying. I use the online credit card information regularly to verify that no weird purchases are being made and to confirm that expected purchases have been made successfully. It’s odd that it takes SO long for a fraud alert to be triggered and then, once that happens, the best tool at my disposal for reviewing and validating purchases is disabled.

Color me not impressed.

4 thoughts on “Do NOT try to protect yourself from Credit Card Fraud”

  1. Perhaps you (I mean other readers of this blog) need to question your bank’s fraud proceedures BEFORE doing business with them. My bank, if it detects something unusual with my credit card, THEY CALL ME and ask questions. Much better system.

  2. Problem is, they change this all the time (necessarily so). And really, will anybody you are able to get in touch with really know (and reveal) how messed up their system is. My card’s fraud folks are probably completely unaware that setting a fraud alert on my account and then resetting it still leaves me crippled for two or three more days afterwards.

  3. I hate to say this bro’ but you should be using an Amex. I also had an issue with a stolen Visa (RBC was the issuer). I reported it stolen and it was used 4 days later and nothing was done about it. The bottom line: you should only have to give the minimum amount of information to make the tranaction work. I’ve never heard of a site needing the Social Security number or any part thereof (and, having lived in the UK, I know all about ridiculously stupid financial transaction safety measures). Amex has a very diligent and effective fraud group. The stop at point of sale when certain patterns show up (can be annoying) and will get your card and account back up in minutes. This is a serious issue but, for straight theft in the U.S.A., the card holder is only on the hook for $50. The real issue is identity theft – a much over marketed issue but one that can be really annoying if you don’t take a few precautions (shred your mail!).

  4. Thanks Carl,

    Yes, the mail (at least that with identity info) gets shredded.

    Amex has the triple whammy for me as a consumer of 1) an annual fee at least equal to my liability should there be a stolen card incident, 2) no cashback incentives that I’m aware of – my small but consistent 1% cashback for my current card is quite satisfying, and 3) the premium demanded of retailers for carrying the card means that I have to have a backup VISA or MASTERCARD in any case since the Amex card does not enjoy the universality of acceptance of the other two.

    Mine is a demographic that very few industries appreciate. The perks offered by most credit institutions are not compelling to me (air miles and “prizes”). My current card wins my business because I can understand what they offer me and they consistently meet that obligation with no fuss.

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