Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Credit Cards Calling

   So I'm driving down the road, out of state but heading toward home, when I received a text message.  The message said it was from a credit card company asking me whether a charge was legit.  I did not recognize this charge!

   Receiving this kind of message may concern some of you, but for me this is awesome!  The credit card companies have, by necessity, become really good at detecting fraud.  That could be because of the huge amount of credit card fraud out there!  Fraud is big money and it's both in our, and the credit card companies', best interests to try to get a handle on it.

   Detecting this kind of fraud is basically about big data analytics and anomaly detection.  That's just a fancy way of saying it's kind of like finding a needle in a stack of needles!  It's complex and expensive.  Luckily(?) credit card companies have lots of money!  They have to figure out what might be fraud so they can appropriately allow or block transactions.  If they allow too much then there can be a lot of fraud.  If they block too much then there can be unhappy customers.

   Back to our story... the charge was not legit and I responded "2".  As you can see in the image, the credit card company said they would call me.  I did receive a call and was immediately put into a hold loop!  Wait...

   If I did speak to someone they would first have asked me to identify myself.  However, they called me.  I don't actually know who they are!  This whole event could have been a scam to collect personal information from me.  Had someone connected with me that way, I would not have given them any identifying information.  They called me... at my registered (with them) phone number.  They already know who I am.  They need to positively identify themselves to me!

   A key point here is that you need to have a reliable phone number registered with your credit card companies (probably your mobile phone), and have text/phone alerts set up.

   As I've discussed in the past, you should not give out personal information to someone who contacts you via the phone.  The correct action is to tell the person that you will call them back, and then do so, but call a number that you can verify, not one they give you.  For example, with a credit card number, you flip the card over and call the number on the back.

   "But wait", you say.  "What if my card was lost or stolen?"  As I've also covered before, you all already have photocopies of your wallet contents (fronts and backs of cards) in a safe place, and only carry the minimum needed cards with you.  Right???

   Back to our story...  I would have called the number on the back of the card, but I was driving.  A little while later I stopped for gas.  I tried to pay at the pump with my credit card and it didn't work!  The pump showed a "see cashier" message.  At that point I figured out that this was the card in question (duh!).  I paid for the gas at the pump using a different card.  Then I flipped over the card that failed and called the number on the back.  I was routed directly to the fraud department.  Since I had called them at a trusted number, I provided the identification information they asked for.  I again verified that the charge they flagged was unauthorized.  In the end, they canceled the account and then overnighted new cards to me. (of course... they want me back up and charging ASAP!).  The rep apologized for the inconvenience, but I thanked them for being on top of this.  (whenever someone asks me for additional information or otherwise goes through extra steps to try to assure the authenticity of a transaction, I always thank them!)

To-Do's and Lessons Learned:
  • Register online for each of your credit card, debit card and bank accounts.  The website address is often on the back of the card.  If you're unsure, call the company/bank using a verified phone number and check.
  • Register an email address and a mobile phone number.  If you have card issues it's typically when you are out, not when you are at home.
  • Create text and email alerts.  There are various types, typically things like charges over a certain $ value.
  • Create approval alerts.  Some companies allow you to use your mobile phone to approve or deny a charge over a certain amount.
  • Call each of your card companies before you go out of town.  If you will be using your cards out of your home area, then they are less likely to get flagged if you've provided this info.
And, in general:
  • Check you bills for accuracy.
  • Limit your total number of cards/accounts.
  • Cut up your old cards - when you close an account of get a new card.
   Here are a few more id fraud links and articles.

   What experiences have you had?  What are your stories and tips?

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