They cloned my credit card

But why did I have to ask?
Anticipating Your Customers’ Needs

I recently received an e-mail alert from my credit card company, with the word “URGENT” in the subject line. Here’s how the message read:

Transaction for $250.00 at a discounted department store was declined on or around 10/07/2012 in DADE CITY, FL United States.

Since we live in Maryland and we were definitely in our hometown on said date, this was clearly a case of fraud. Fortunately, credit card companies are becoming more adept at catching and addressing these situations. When I spoke to an agent named Vinayak at my credit card company, I learned that this transaction had been a “swipe” at a Walmart retail store, which meant someone had actually cloned my card.

Amazing and disconcerting, right? I wasn’t distressed though, especially since a) it was caught before any real damage was done; b) Vinayak was courteously handling the situation for me and; c) they offered to overnight a new card to me.

But as I was on the phone with Vinayak I did begin to think about all the work a new card (and new account number) would create for me. I suddenly remembered that I authorized several merchants to auto-bill me each month – from E-Z Pass and Netflix to my cable and phone companies as well as many others. This meant I would have to go through recent statements, line by line, and figure out which merchants had me on a monthly auto-pay program.

Worse, I’d need to update my online profile with several companies such as PayPal, Amazon, Groupon, Costco and many more. The situation had quickly gone from a breeze to a real pain. Then my mindset shifted from “It’s all on me” to “Maybe Vinayak can help.” As we were nearing the end of our call, I asked if there was an easy way for him to filter out merchants with recurring monthly charges. He said there was, asked me to prepare pen and paper and proceeded to list seven such companies as well as the 800 numbers for six of them.

So what did Vinayak miss?
Yes, Vinayak’s ability to provide me with the names and numbers of these companies was certainly a relief and a time-saver. However it also got me curious about something: Why did I have to ask? With fraud so rampant, credit card companies must encounter this same situation hundreds — if not thousands — of times each day. Why wasn’t Vinayak trained to proactively offer that specific service? How many victims wouldn’t think to ask and would wind up spending hours conducting this research on their own?

The technology required to help fraud victims in this manner already exists! And it’s low-hanging fruit when it comes to meeting cardholders’ needs. Banks could easily include an offer to provide this information with their notification e-mail. If he’s on the ball, Vinayak, who may very well handle dozens, if not hundreds of these calls a day, will make it a policy to provide this information to the next caller he helps. And if he’s really a go-getter, he’ll suggest that the folks sitting around him follow suit. Or maybe he’ll suggest it to the bosses and get a new policy instituted.

Anticipating – or responding to – customers’ needs is one of the pillars of providing an impeccable customer experience; engineering experiences that exceed expectations. What does your company do to anticipate customers’ and clients’ needs? I’d love to hear about your best practices – what is it you do that really leaves your customers feeling completely taken care of; as if you’ve thought of everything?

Your thoughts? (Look for “Leave a Reply” below, or click here)

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  1. Get LifeLock! Once your info is out there you’re much more likely to have your identity stole. Check your credit report to make sure there aren’t any unauthorized credit searches. Often that info is stolen by the truck load – literally and figuratively. Ie: About 7 years ago Chevy Chase Bank had one of their trucks filled with client info stolen while it was parked outside a branch….unattended! Other more common examples are hackers stealing your info from banks and credit companies then duplicating your cards, stealing your identity, etc… I keep a list of all companies that store my card number for easy billing just in case something like this happens, I change banks, I lose my card…..Great awareness post. This is a rapidly growing problem.

  2. Phil Smith III says

    LifeLock is not necessarily a good idea; Google “lifelock ceo”, and you’ll find lots of coverage, including:

    As for the auto-bills: mostly you don’t need to change those. The banks know they gave you a new card, and will continue to accept those recurring payments.

  3. Steve,
    There’s SO MUCH need for what you do! I’m navigating a black hole between an insurance services company, an insurance company and a medical provider. I paid for services, and the services company says that I have coverage but they didn’t tell the insurance company.

    The most painful part of the process is exactly what you point out above – there’s zero ownership on the part of the company who could take initiative to help! Their process requires that I call, wait 5 business days and I’ll either get an email (or I won’t) and then it’s my job to call them back, not speak directly to the person who can do the work, and then ask if the problem is fixed.

    Wow. Dark, dark places!

  4. Dear Steve:
    My Wife Sheila, who has The Legal Shield & Identity Theft Protection for the last seven years, has had her Identity and Credit card issues, over and over and over again. Luckily we have Legal Shield, which has come to the rescue, each and every time. Just imagine having unlimited time to talk to your Attorney on various day to day issues without getting a bill in the mail. Isn’t that peace of mind. Bad things happen to Good People. Why not get Legal Shield? Try it out.You go month to month and see for yourself.Just $26.95 a month and you are covered.

    You talked about Credit Card only. What about your Driver’s License, Medicals, Bank Accounts Etc. Google and you will see why they partnered with Legal Shield. Remember Enron. Need help call Sheila 301-924-0423.
    Always a pleasure to read your good stuff. Take care and enjoy the moment. Life is wonderful. Don’t let these small issues rob you from who you are.
    Sincerely, Larry.

  5. Hi Steve,
    I just wanted to let you know, I really like your daily tips. The one about the credit card company not telling you they could tease out your auto payments is something I also get very frustrated with. I know I am often guilty of giving too much info and details, but often it is the little things that make the biggest difference, as you say.

    Today I started incorporating people’s names in emails and I have used your other tips as well. You might not hear it enough…but thanks!

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