Credit card fraud is a serious, expensive and pervasive problem -- even as the banks use clever ways to protect transactions (e.g. chips) fraudsters seem to find ways to keep up.
The net result is that many honest card holders have had fraud problems through no fault of their own. We appreciate that the issuers are vigilant in monitoring card use and can move quickly when they believe a card has been compromised or is at risk. In research, I hear lots of people taking comfort from this.
But companies are not always as quick to let the customer know what's going on when they take these steps. The tale of woe sent to me this week by a regular reader makes this clear. An automated message was deemed to be adequate.
Getting the automated message your card has been compromisedHere's a tale of woe from a loyal reader that highlights this issue:
On Monday, Aug. 9, I received an automated voice mail at my cell phone number advising that I was being issued a new card and that as of Aug. 6 my transaction limit was restricted to a maximum of $500. There was no explanation for why this was being done. Just a recorded announcement that was longer than the length allowed by my voice mail and that was cut off.
I can say for absolute certainty that no effort was made to contact me personally because my voice mail response for my cell phone specifically says not to leave a message at that number but to use another number. (BMO MasterCard has my home and office numbers and did not call either. They also have my e-mail address, but did not use that.)
I called on Aug. 9 and asked for an explanation and got the expected party line about how they are looking after my best interests etc etc. (And of course: "We are experiencing a significantly higher than usual call volume...." Do you ever not get that message?)
But here's the thing: On Aug. 5, I checked out from a seven-night stay at an all-inclusive resort and charged more than $3,000 to my MasterCard to pay for the visit. How would I have felt if my credit card was declined at that time over something that I was unaware of. Humiliated and inconvenienced are terms that come to mind.
In May I was in Europe for eight days and I didn't bother to take my cell phone because it doesn't work outside of North America. How would I have felt if my card had been cancelled or restricted during that trip without my knowledge? Humiliated and inconvenienced to the extreme are terms that come to mind.
Would a direct telephone call by a real customer service representative alerting me to what was happening be so hard? ... After 30 years as a MasterCard and BMO customer I am considering switching to Visa.
The focus on customer acquisition in the credit card industry means free points and bonuses for signing up. You might not be thought so valuable when you have a problem though.
If you have to get a new credit card number, you can plan on changing all those recurring payments yourself. A great example of a situation where you may as well look around for other deals since you're going to be updating everything anyway.
Profitability modeling has taken us to a place where your past real business counts for nothing, and your potential future business counts for everything. How bizarre, how bizarre.