Saving Your Amex Details Online? Think Again
In today’s hypercompetitive personal credit landscape, and with the threat of online security breaches always looming, Amex would do well to plug this gaping hole in their fraud protection systems.
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Let me begin with a disclaimer – I’ve been a loyal client of American Express Cards for nearly a decade and a half now, and have a great deal of respect for the company. Their executives are well trained and polite, they have a great rewards-point system and super-efficient online platform, and the overall usage experience is probably a tad superior to the other cards I use, especially when I’m travelling out of the country.
My experience with Amex soured for the first time only earlier this year, when I received notifications for an alarming number of fraudulent transactions. A quick Google search revealed that I wasn’t alone, “Hollyhill” had been the source of charge-dispute misery for several others too.
I called Amex and explained to them that I didn’t even own an iPhone or have an active iTunes account anymore (having switched to an Android device more than two years back), and in any case, this transaction wasn’t initiated by me. I requested a hard block on the account and promptly received a new card. They reversed the fraudulent transaction with a polite apology. All’s well that ends well, right?
Except, no. Last month, Hollyhill made an unwelcome return, with a whopping debit of Rs 7900. And much to my chagrin, the charge took place on my old card, which was, to the best of my knowledge, blocked.
I begrudgingly jumped into action again in a desperate late-night effort to reverse the transaction and was promptly connected to Amex’s slick “fraud protection unit”, where a manager with a confident and reassuring tone proceeded to assure me that I would not have to pay for this fraudulent transaction. But my question at that stage was singular: why was a transaction, that too fraudulent, allowed to go through on a card that I had placed a hard block on?
Much hemming and hawing later, I still did not have a clear answer. But what became apparent is this: Amex allows saved card transactions to continue pretty much forever; even after a hard block has been placed on it due to a committed and repeatedly reported fraud.
Obviously, I wasn’t too happy to discover this. I pointed out that this was massive security loophole, as the very reason one would block a card which has been used fraudulently, would be to render it as unusable as a mere piece of plastic; but all I received were mere platitudes from the executive on the other end and later, her manager too. I did point out that I’ve never faced this issue on my other credit cards; for whom a hard block really does mean a hard block, including for online sites such as Netflix, iTunes or Amazon where I may have registered my card details online. But to my dismay, all I received were more banal apologies, helpless shrugs and promised callbacks that never materialised.
In today’s hypercompetitive personal credit landscape, and with the threat of online security breaches always looming, Amex would do well to plug this gaping hole in their fraud protection systems. Until then, you’re strongly advised to think twice before saving your Amex details to an online site – doing so may lead to much strife if you ever need to block your card later.