Friday, June 15, 2007

Fraud Alert from Citibank

Earlier this week we received a fraud alert letter from Citibank. The letter explained that the company's fraud detection system found a strange pattern of activity on our card and that we should contact them urgently.

I found it a bit strange that an urgent fraud alert would come to us via the U.S. postal service which, while very reliable, is not known as the most expedient method of communication in the 21st century.

Regardless, I picked up the phone and called the number that was given. As you pretty much expect when calling any corporate service center in America these days, I was greeted by an automatic system that asked me to say my account number aloud. The system recognized my spoken words without any trouble and connected me to an agent without any delay. Of course, the first question the agent asked me was to repeat my account number. There's gotta be a law against that.

Generally speaking, the agent was polite and professional, she even waited while I took a business call on my cell phone. I thought that keeping a customer service representative on hold for once was a deliciously ironic turn of events. She took it in good spirits though.

At the end of the day, the "fraud alert" was easily cleared up. It turns out that the automated system spotted what it thought was a double payment to my son's day care center, and wanted to clear that transaction with us. Unfortunately, this was not a double payment, it's called parents paying for summer camp.

All in all, this was a very good experience. Kudos to Citibank for being both vigilant and courteous in their service.


Anonymous said...

The opposite side of this coin is that depending on how fast that letter comes, Citibank may turn off your credit card before you know you need to call the number. Because I am a very active card user, I get these stupid fraud alerts 1-2 times a month, and I can't tell you how many times I have found out that I had one when I tried to use my card in a store or at a hotel or in an airport and it was declined because of a decurity block I didn't know about. They do this not to protect the customer, as they claim, but to protect themselves, since the customer is only liable for the first $50 of loss in most cases. I have had this card for 23 years, and have never had a fraudulent charge, but I've probably had several hundred fraud blcoks. You'd think they'd have figured it out by now!

Shadox said...

I absolutely agree that the credit card companies place fraud alerts to protect themselves and not consumers. I also think that the use of a fraud alert letter is not very intelligent, to put mildly.

From my perspective the process was simple and not very painful. Since my card was not placed on hold, no damage was done.

To be honest, if they had called me, I probably would have suspected a scam and may have refused to speak to the agent.