When it comes to protecting your credit cards, companies are going to great extremes in recent times. Gone are the days where you simply got a phone call when you spent a great deal of money and when your bill is past due. Now, credit card companies are paying close attention to your account in real time. This is called credit card pattern recognition and it has been around for longer than you might think.
If you use credit cards often, you probably have gotten those odd phone calls or emails about your recent spending habits. Perhaps your credit card company noticed an odd spending pattern, or your first purchase on vacation in Tahiti. Any type of purchase that is unusual in the eyes of the credit card company can come under suspicion.
This is being used more and more as the criminals become more advanced. While the added security is a wonderful thing when it works, it can be a bit of a pain in the tail at other times. Imagine you are on vacation and you go out to supper for the first time. Imagine that you whip out your credit card and it gets declined for no good reason. This usually leads to an awkward conversation with the waiter and a long phone with the credit card company call to straighten out the fact that you are on vacation. That is not always so fun.
So, the obvious question is…are the security measures worth it in the long run?
One only needs to go through an identity or credit card theft once to know the answer to that question. The feeling one gets when they have their property taken is something that can’t be explained. It leaves you feeling completely vulnerable and helpless. If the occasional inconvenient phone call is the price I have to pay to stay safe, then I will gladly accept that.
The things that might trigger a phone call include using the card in new places, using them more than usual, or using them in different places at or near the same time. A friend of mine received a phone call from her credit card company because someone was buying $400 of craft supplies at Michael’s. My friend has never been crafty, and probably didn’t even know what Michael’s was if it is not a designer pair of shoes! There are ways to mitigate these problems as well. One way is to notify your credit card company when you are going out of town. This is especially true if you are leaving the country.
The simple fact is that security is not easy. Security demands a bit of invasion of privacy and an occasional inconvenience. In the end it is worth every bit if it actually works. All indications aim to the pattern recognition methods being highly effective. For this reason, it looks like it is a good thing.