bjarvis: (Default)
[personal profile] bjarvis
Credit card companies are heavily into "big data," or what the rest of the planet has been calling statistics for generations: they analyze commercial activity to devise more ways of selling products, extracting more fees, getting rid of unprofitable customers, and spotting fraud.

And sometimes they spot fraud where there isn't any, and things go bad quickly.

Earlier today, the gov't of Canada attempted to charge my Citibank Amex card for my Canadian passport renewal. Citibank flagged it as potentially a fraudulent activity. The reasoning engine which scores transactions along the scale of legit to illegit is a black box and proprietary secret, but I'm hoping they simply presumed that I was unlikely to be in Canada at this moment and therefore this charge was probably incorrect. I'm hoping they didn't just decide somehow that the Government of Canada isn't a legitimate entity.

I contacted Amex to tell them this was indeed a legit transaction, but it's too late. I expect the passport office has already dropped my paperwork into an envelope and shipped it back to me with a form letter saying that they couldn't complete the transaction. And I'm going to have to mail back the entire package yet again --using a different credit card because I can't trust Amex not to screw it up again.

This evening, that same Amex card was blocked at our local service station. In anger & disgust, I went to a different service station, reasoning that perhaps it was just a telecom issue, but no, the next service station rejected the same card. Apparently, the black box reasons that not only could I not legitimately be in Canada, but I clearly can't also be in my own neighbourhood.

I finally purchased gasoline at the second station using a different credit card. And I had a few words with Citibank customer service when I got home.

I've had this credit card for 17 years, but at this moment, I have to honestly question whether I should keep this card. Citibank's fraud prevention has prevented a stack of transactions over the years. It works perfectly as long as I hold it in my hand and keep within a limited range of home. Once I get away from the Baltimore-Washington zone or the area around our campsite in West Virginia, it starts breaking down quickly. I've learned not to trust it for web purchases or telephone orders, but it didn't occur to me that it would also fail in mail order situations, especially when dealing with a government agency.

I'll have to think about this more in the morning when I'm a bit less pissed off.

Date: 2017-05-14 04:33 am (UTC)
allanh: (Bitchy Endora)
From: [personal profile] allanh
I've had Citi credit cards before, both personal and business, and this has always been a problem for each and every one of them. When I realized that I was going to have to call them (though I think now you can do it online) to let them know every time I was travelling outside of the SF Bay Area (including incredibly enough, SACRAMENTO, which is only 100 miles away from our home in Sunnyvale), I ditched them forever.

For work, I have a (non-Citibank) Amex and a Chase MasterCard, both of which rarely give me grief.

For home, I have a couple of Capital One cards and a Barclays Bank card, all of which have occasionally flagged fraud alerts, but have done so in a responsible manner, by texting me to call their fraud center in real time to verify a potentially questionable purchase.

If Costco had gone with any other organization than Citibank for its new Visa, I would have gotten one. I just don't trust Citi after all of the problems they've caused me over the years...all of which are similar to what you just described.

Date: 2017-05-17 03:15 am (UTC)
octothorpe: (Default)
From: [personal profile] octothorpe
Yeah, the issue is Citibank (or, rather, every fucking bank card). My 'real' Amex has only once false-positive'd on me, and they called me AS I WAS MAKING THE TRANSACTION to see if it was legit.

There was also another hitch, which involved my use of my Amex card via Pay Pal, when a company won't take Amex but will take PP. I wanted to make a large purchase, and they were like, nopeā€¦ that's not happening, even though we're on the phone together, and I'm telling you it's legit. They only authorise something like up to $300 to be chunked through PP at once. I think I was needing like $1300. I bit the bullet, and connected my chequing account to PP, made the transaction, then nuked that chequing account connection.

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