Saturday, August 18, 2007

American Express Security

My American Express Blue card is about to expire at the end of the month. This is my favorite card and I use it for practically everything (wherever they accept American Express), since it offers the best cash back rewards of the three cards that we hold.

Yesterday my wife received her new card in the mail, and since I did not receive mine I called American Express to find out what the reason might be. Well, according to the American Express representative the card was mailed to a different address. Since we have been living in our current house for the past four years, alarm bells in my head went off immediately. Could this be the beginning of a nasty identity theft case?

The first thing I did was to ask the representative what address my new card was sent to. He responded that due to security concerns he was not allowed to disclose that information to me. However, he said he could send me a new card immediately to the correct address. I then proceeded to point out the idiocy of his position - he would not give me the current address the card was sent to because he was, quote "not able to positively identify me", but if I wanted to get a new card all I needed to do was simply give him an address at which to send me one!

I realize that the representative was just following company policy, but what kind of moronic policy is that? If you have concerns about my identity, why would you let me make transactions with the card, or worse, send me a new card to a random address I give you?

I tried a different tactic. I asked him if he could tell me when the address was changed. He said yes, and gave me a date in 2003. The date he gave was the date we moved to our current address. The one at which we have been receiving our statements all these years, and at which my wife just received her new card. I put two and two together, and asked him if he could confirm that the address they had mailed the card to is our old address. He confirmed that this was the case. So it appears that my new card was sent to an address from which I moved 4 years ago.

At this point I had only one question left: if somebody changes the address on his account, does American Express send some sort of notification of the address change transaction to the old address? His answer was: "no".

OK, identity thieves of the world. It appears that American Express is really trying to help you out. By corporate policy it seems that everyone who has the account number can call and change the address on the account, and the company will not even bother to inform the card owner of the change. In addition, if the card owner calls to find out where his information is being sent, the company will not share this information because of... security concerns.

Riddle me this: how can the same company produce a great product like the Blue card, while simultaneously producing the most screwed up and idiotic security policy ever devised. Seriously, American Express, buy a clue.

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