March 9, 2009

Credit Card Security

Have you ever received a new credit card before your old one expired with a cover note of ‘please discard old card appropriately'? Or has your bank sent an email that a new card would be issued on X date due to a compromise along the way? Other people have told me the bank stopped activity until the new card arrived. What they try not to inform us is that a merchants system was hacked into and card numbers may have been compromised. So the credit card companies and/or banks have to issue new ones.

I received a new credit card to replace one that had been ‘compromised’ without further explanation. I signed the back ‘See ID”, activated it and took it on a test run to stimulate the economy a little.

The checkout person at Best Buy was aware of the signature line, asked for my ID, and my purchase was complete.

Targetwas a different story. I swiped the card and asked the checkout person how it went through without a signature or why she wasn’t alerted to ask for an ID. She informed me that it was ‘corporate policy’ not to check ID’s on purchases under $25.00. A person at the customer service desk repeated this policy. Later I called a toll free number from their website. Another company that’s outsourced customer service overseas! After waiting, being transferred, being un-transferred, the overseas CS person informed me I’d have to call during the week.

Apparently it doesn't matter what precautions one takes to safeguard a credit card, it seems there are merchants willing to bypass the rules. A big precaution is bypassed by not looking at the photo ID and comparing it to the purchaser. If a six foot male presented a credit card issued to Mary Smith apparently it would still be OK with too many merchants.

Protecting ones credit cards from fraud and identity theft are not easy with stores like this. The ironic twist to the story was my purchase – a pink umbrella to match the pink postcards!

1 comment:

The North Coast said...

There seems to be no consensus among merchants about what constitutes adequate security for credit cards,and especially debit cards.

At least on a credit card, you are on the hook for only $50, unless someone has stolen your identity. With debit cards, however, someone can empty out your bank acct with a string of small purchases, should you be late in discovering the loss. I have never been asked for ID on a debit purchase, and have been asked to enter my PIN only half the time.

When the consumer is the only one on the hook, the issuers are careless about security. But, then, look how conscientious they were about making loans for a few years there. I guess we shouldn't be surprised.