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Credit Card Fraud Protection Annoyances

Written by Nickel - 12 Comments

Credit Card Fraud Protection Annoyances

I’m currently preparing to leave town for a family vacation. One of my last tasks (aside from actually packing!) was to buy tickets to Disneyland. I know, I know… But hey, with four kids, it’s a blast. :-)

Anyway, my ticket-buying attempts were initially thwarted by a “temporarily unavailable” Disney ticket site. About an hour later I was able to get through, but my purchase was denied. I double-checked my info and re-submitted only to be denied again.

Frustrated, I hopped over to my e-mail to check for any last minute messages that need to be dealt with. Lo and behold, I had a message from American Express with the subject line “Fraud Protection Alert.” I opened it and found that, sure enough, my attempted Disney purchase looked fraudulent to them.

I quickly called them and was greeted by an automated system that wanted to validate three recent charges. The first was Disney. No problem. I said “yes” and the system moved on. The second was for HCA something or other. I didn’t remember it off the top of my head, so I said “I don’t know.”

Ooops. That was enough to get me thrown into the queue waiting for a human. This wouldn’t have been so bad except I needed to get the card unlocked so I could complete the purchase. So I waited. And waited. And waited. When I was finally connected to a real live person, we went through the same thing all over again.

Yes, the Disney charge is okay.

According to the rep that one was flagged because it was a sizable charge and we hadn’t “shopped” there before. Right. Disneyland tickets are expensive, and they aren’t the sort of thing that most people buy on a regular basis.

No, I don’t recognize the name on the other charge, but that doesn’t make it fraudulent.

Same deal for the third charge.

As it turns out, the HCA charge was related to the bill for a doctor’s visit while on vacation over Spring Break. We were billed by the Urgent Care clinic, but it showed up as HCA when the charge came through. I have no idea why that one was flagged as potentially fraudulent, except that it was an out-of-town charge.

And the other one was similar. I had made a purchase from the Dockers online store, but the name associated with the charge was different so I didn’t recognize it at first. But it was still legit. In this case, I guess (?) it was flagged because it was an online vendor that I hadn’t bought from before.

Ultimately, I don’t have a problem with credit card issuers being diligent and trying to prevent fraudulent charges. But really, if you’re going to throw up a red flag and prevent me from making a purchase, at least have the decency to have enough customer service reps staffing the phones so I don’t have to sit on hold to get it sorted out.

Published on May 23rd, 2012
Modified on June 10th, 2012 - 12 Comments
Filed under: Credit Cards

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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12 Responses to “Credit Card Fraud Protection Annoyances”

  1. 1
    Kathryn C Says:

    grrr this has happened to me. I’m with you. I like the protection but if they have shoddy customer service, forget it. Net net, I’m on board with it, as I have had my card swiped recently with a bunch of random charges, which got denied for this reason.

  2. 2
    Curtis Says:

    I have a lot of random purchases and sizes and this protection was able to catch the first and only fraudulent charge on my (AMEX) card. (The purchase was A Toys ‘R Us purchase in another state)

    You should probably get to packing rather than complaining about non-issues

  3. 3
    Jim Says:

    With four kids, it’s expensive! :)

  4. 4
    Felicia Says:

    You need a great vacation after that turmoil! I would have given up and tried something else…lol! Enjoyed this. Thanks!

  5. 5
    jim Says:

    Citibank caught fraudulent charges on my card years ago and they called me and took care of it. So I’m thankful that the banks watch for this stuff. I’ve had fraud alerts from banks more than once since then and its always been something trivial. Once I bought a nw TV, stereo, and full entertainment system and they called to question the large purchase. I’ve had a few phone calls to question random purchases sense then. Once cause I bought something out of town (while on a trip to visit family). Another time they questioned a $1 purchase because apparently thats a red flag for thieves who use a small purchase to test cards.

  6. 6
    jim Says:

    BTW, it seems rather stupid that they’d question Disneyland purchases based on the cost and infrequency. Hopefully they’ll figure that out and put an exception in for Disney. I would assume that most of Disney’s customers are infrequent and the costs are relatively high.

  7. 7
    Steve Says:

    Fraud alerts aren’t there to protect the consumer. The consumer is on the hook for at most $50 when fraud happens on their credit card, by federal law. This is an annoyance because who it is really protecting is the credit card company.

    And a further annoyance is that you couldn’t recognize the merchants because their names were changed or too short. This is another fault of the credit card industry. Too many of their systems are decades old.

  8. 8
    Lance@MoneyLife&More Says:

    I’ve never had something like this happen to me but I would be so annoyed that they didn’t have a live person available immediately. What would have happened if it was fraud? I’d be freaking out!

  9. 9
    Vicki Says:

    I had this happen to me with Bank of America a few months ago. I was in the checkout line at Target WITH MY 3 CHILDREN. It was a different location than I usually shop at (5 miles away) so they thought that was unusual. Just came up as a decline at the register. I had to pull my stuff to the side while I spent TWENTY FIVE minutes on the phone with a rep to get my $250 purchase approved. When I got home I had an email alert from them. How helpful.

    I’m with the pp, I’m pretty sure MY best interest was NOT what they had in mind :)

  10. 10
    justsomeguy Says:

    I hate to say this about an evil company like BOA, but about a month ago for the first time in my life several fraudulent charges were made on my credit card. Within 2-3 hours BOA had notified me via e-mail, I immediately went to their website, saw the fraudulent charges, got the card canceled, the charges were removed and within a couple of days I had a new card. They did a GREAT job.

  11. 11
    jon Says:

    I just found a $625.00 charge on my credit card for Disneyland tickets made 30 days ago. Someone must have had a good time, too bad it wasn’t my family! US Bank says they will get the charges removed.

  12. 12
    JimInBoulder Says:

    I am becoming very frustrated with American Express. Within the past two weeks I’ve had them flag fraud alerts for online purchases from Microsoft and Disney. In both cases I switched to my Visa card and the charges went right through. I could understand if I were trying to buy the services of a porn site, but Microsoft and Disney? By the way, I buy a lot of things online…I don’t know why these two mainstream merchants should be flagged.

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