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So last week I ordered a rifle scope for my husband (Father's Day present). About 10 seconds after I placed the online order American Express sent a text to my cellphone saying a large purchase was made online with my card and if it wasn't me, to please call right away.

Then today I got a call from the retailer. They wanted to verify that yes I really placed this order with a different shipping address then billing address. Their system also showed this was a business address and could I confirm that was true? (Yes, all true. It was my work address.)

Glad to see that companies are being so proactive since they would be the ones on the hook if $600 walked off.

Lara Amber
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Glad to see that companies are being so proactive since they would be the ones on the hook if $600 walked off.


Several years ago I had to buy a new monitor. I went to Best Buy and bought an "out of the box" monitor for a low price. As they were ringing it up I noticed they charged me the regular price. So they finished running it through, cancelled it, then ran it through at the discount price.

By the time I got home Discover had already called.

And a few months ago I bought something on-line, then realized my card was out of date and I needed to activate the new one. While I was reaching for the phone the card company called me. I could see why that one might ring alarm bells, and was glad they called before allowing the purchase to go through.

And years ago there was someone on this board who had a saga to tell. He got a call asking if he still had his credit card. Yes, it was in his wallet. Was he sure? So he pulled out his wallet and discovered that the card was missing. He'd left his wallet in his car while playing basketball or something like that, and apparently a thief had gone through his wallet, picked out one credit card and some case, and left everything else. Since the wallet was still there the guy didn't realize he'd been robbed.

How was he caught? Apparently the thief had grabbed everything available at Circuit City, and one purchase had triggered the over-the-limit halt. So the thief pulled out another credit card, and the clerk realized the name didn't match the previous card and triggered the security button.

Nancy
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Glad to see that companies are being so proactive

and they are...

After not using my Discover for quite a while, 3 weeks ago I bought some stuff for the elf online and a couple cases of wine (wine.woot)
the next day i bought a new tower for the boy and the purchase was declined.
I went online to double check and could not get into my account.
I called Discover and while i was speaking with them, an email came in from the fraud department.

peace & purchasing patterns
t
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This seems to be very common these days. In the last 2 years I have traveled about 4-6 times [out of state] and the first 3 times I had my card declined by BofA's AMEX fraud prevention department. Upon calling they indicated that my pattern of spending was outside of the norm and this triggers an automatic freeze on the card.

This was actually annoying as it caused quite a delay for me and the 6 or so folks waiting in line behind me.

Now I make a point to contact BofA before traveling to let them know dates and travel stops / routes so they can note my account if the spending triggers one of their automatic flags. Sure it's a hassle but no more so than being far from home with no access to my primary spending card.

I've since started carrying a second card when I travel just in case, and so far I haven't had any flags or freezes on this card. The frequency of use there is much lower than primary card.
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Neither this, nor any of the other personal stories, are describing instances of the system working. These are all false positives. A couple of the second-hand stories describe useful fraud detection. Perhaps it is helping you feel more comfortable that they are being vigilant, but except as marketing it's not an example of success.

I currently have a family member traveling overseas. There have been no instances of the banks catching fraudulent use of cards that I've heard about, but there have been many (more than ten recently) phone calls following up on refusing a card that was being used legitimately. This is then followed by some complex dance to not have the card/account disabled, once involving an expensive phone call or text communication with the person overseas.

These are failures, not successes. Success looks like never hearing anything from the card company except for correct billing. The best success is when fraud simply never happens, and if it does you never hear about it because it's all dealt with at their end. Admittedly, there are far worse possible failures that haven't happened -- that is a good thing.

-IGU-
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mjw3786,

You wrote, This seems to be very common these days. In the last 2 years I have traveled about 4-6 times [out of state] and the first 3 times I had my card declined by BofA's AMEX fraud prevention department. Upon calling they indicated that my pattern of spending was outside of the norm and this triggers an automatic freeze on the card.

Yeap. They're profiling you. They've been doing this for decades now.

In the '80s and '90s if I forgot to call the credit card companies before going on a trip, my cards would get declined - usually on the second purchase attempt. These days I sometimes travel (or make a purchase online) and then realize I didn't say anything ... but they don't block the purchases.

With that said, Chase has caught fraud on two of my accounts in recent years. Of course one of the accounts had been inactive (backup card; not in my wallet) for a long time and had almost never been used at all. Made me wonder where it got compromised (almost had to have been an inside job) and how they knew what "purchasing pattern" to look for.

- Joel
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IGU,

I disagree with your assessment that these stories aren't describing instances of the system working and are instead failures. They found an unusual charge, quickly contacted me to verify that yes it was me, and then allowed the charge/order to go through without interruption. The system NOT working would be them cancelling my order without telling me or shutting down my card. The other extreme of "not working" would be not monitoring my card at all and allowing everything through.

Amex has caught fraudulent charges on my card in the past before I ever had a chance to know about them.

The only way the system could work the way you describe where they automatically know if the pending charge is fraudulent or not without contacting me would require magic or for my computer to have a biometric reader to prove it really is me and not some coworker who rifled through my wallet.

Lara Amber
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Chase has caught fraud on two of my accounts in recent years. Of course one of the accounts had been inactive (backup card; not in my wallet) for a long time and had almost never been used at all. Made me wonder where it got compromised (almost had to have been an inside job) and how they knew what "purchasing pattern" to look for.

This makes me wonder about my cache of "safe dwellers" that get little to no use. I asked y'all about closing them once before and the consensus was to leave them open.

Is my usual weekly mint.com download enough to maintain a non-dormant status or do I actually need to make a purchase on each card once or twice a year to prevent being closed for inactivity?
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I agree with Itsgoingup! These are examples of failures of the system. We already live overseas and it is NOT unusual to randomly book flights to yet other foreign countries and other unusual things.

I am hearing impaired so returning a "simple" phone call to fix their error is a nightmare. My husband ends up spending over half an hour on the phone fixing these problems.
I often travel alone and if I visit a city and my card is rejected at a hotel I don't want to be stuck on the streets in some strange city.

These are not security measures or a service to me. They are harassment.

And seriously, CC Co., I know it may be shocking but I do buy iTunes apps for only $.99. and I do fairly regularly. You really, really, REALLY do not need to put a fraud alert on my CC for an $.99 App I've purchased!
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These are examples of failures of the system. We already live overseas and it is NOT unusual to randomly book flights to yet other foreign countries and other unusual things.

In your case, yes, I agree that the CC Co flunked. What several of us were commenting about earlier in the thread were cases where the company spotted unusual transactions, and verified them before allowing them through. (I don't normally buy two monitors and return one immediately).

In your case, you have a history of unusual purchases, and the company should have a notation on your account explaining this, rather than locking you out of your card. They are at fault, in this instance, for not accepting your usage history and working with it.

Nancy
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We already live overseas and it is NOT unusual to randomly book flights to yet other foreign countries and other unusual things.



But that should be your usual (purchasing pattern)
Regardless of how unusual it is to someone who seldom leaves his own home town, and only then drives.

My purchasing patterns (transactions within various countries, airfare, trains, car rentals, cases of wine) might be unusual compared with Windowseat's for example.
I never notify my CCs that I am traveling abroad any more, and I never have those purchases questioned.

But when a dormant card is suddenly used for several hundred dollars of purchases, I think to question the veracity of that, IS a system that is working.

While I chose to call the company (in my situation) - I could have handled it via email.


peace & not unusual...
t
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mjw3786,

You wrote, Is my usual weekly mint.com download enough to maintain a non-dormant status or do I actually need to make a purchase on each card once or twice a year to prevent being closed for inactivity?

That should work. You have up to 60 days to report credit card fraud from the date the statement cycled. Your method is still likely to find the fraud before you would receive a paper statement.

I have the Mint app on my Kindle and use that most nights to review any transaction activity when I'm heading to bed. (I usually log in before opening a book.)

- Joel
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Is my usual weekly mint.com download enough to maintain a non-dormant status or do I actually need to make a purchase on each card once or twice a year to prevent being closed for inactivity?

It depends on the credit card company's rules about 'inactivity'. While regular access of the account information is 'activity' that shows that you are still interested in the account, it's 'activity' that only costs the credit card company money - by having to maintain servers to keep the account information, pay credit bureaus to report the information, send you new plastics and account statements, maintain call centers in case you decide to call in, etc. It also exposes the credit card company to the risk that your dormant account will be hacked, and could end up costing them money that way.

Because you aren't making any purchases, which is what would provide the credit card company with revenue to offset these costs, you may end up getting your account(s) closed when card companies are looking at which accounts are least profitable.

This makes me wonder about my cache of "safe dwellers" that get little to no use. I asked y'all about closing them once before and the consensus was to leave them open.

It depends on if you are concerned about your credit score, and if you are planning on getting any additional credit (like a mortgage) in the future. Back in this thread http://boards.fool.com/some-house-cleaning-questions-3046254... it was suggested that you keep your 'general use' credit cards open so that you would keep your utilization ratio down. However, in order to keep the credit cards as 'active' and counting toward your utilization ratios, some credit card companies require that you actually have purchase activity every so often. So if you are trying to keep these accounts active for the sake of credit reporting/credit scoring, it's probably best that you make at least one purchase every 3 - 6 months or so on your 'safe dwellers'.

AJ
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The examples are neither successes nor failures.

Let's just summarize it by saying that anyone with any brains wants the system to work since if it doesn't the costs will be passed on to us, the consumers.

That said, no one wants to be hassled in any way to assist this effort nor help support the efficacy of the system .

Really, when has it ever been different?
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