'Tis the Season...to Be THIEVING?

Is anyone else getting tired of being “compromised”?   I have three primary credit cards: one personal, one business and one mixed use (love those Marriott points!).  Over the past five years, I’ve had three compromised cards.  They were never lost or stolen, just “hacked”. Last week my business card got hit for the first time.  Banks may not truly appreciate that while efficiency is important, it’s not the only element to a great customer experience.

Four days after completing a business trip to Canada, I received a call from the fraud detection unit asking if I had purchased something for $3,500 in Toronto.  Um, no.  He then asked about two other transactions at a Toronto area Best Buy for more than $6,000.  Wow.  Someone was getting a great man-cave for the holidays – but it wasn’t me!   My account number had obviously been lifted during the trip. 

I couldn’t help but think about the slow adoption of EMV (e.g. chips) by US issuers.  According to an August 2013 Neilson Report, global fraud jumped 14.6% to $11.27 billion in 2012, with US counterfeiting accounting for 26.5% of the total amount.  All three of my cards were re-issued in 2013 and only one came with the chip technology that everyone else in the world uses - even though I’ve used all three cards overseas in the past two years.  With the US EMV delay largely centered on cost, my ten grand experience would seem to help the cause; especially when it was completely avoidable with EMV technology.  But regardless, back to the fraud report. 

The rep did a good job of reassuring me that I wasn’t liable.  I already knew that due to my line of work, but I could see how many cardholders would need some assurances.  He dutifully closed my account, sent the new plastic express for my next business trip and reversed the two Best Buy charges (and foreign transaction fees) that had posted.  This guy was doing a great job, but then we came to the charge he originally called about.

Because the $3,500 charge was authorized but not posted, he said he would try to “stop it”.  However, I should call back if that wasn’t successful.  My inner Scrooge awoke.  I wondered why I needed to track a charge I’ve already said is fraud?  Why should I care? The charge posted the next day, which I thoroughly expected, but I waited three more business days to see if the bank would snag it as part of the original fraud case.  Nope.  Bah!  For research purposes, I decided to take care of it online which was reasonably straightforward until I got to the end.  The last page said it could take 6-8 weeks to resolve – and that wasn’t going to fly with my payment due in two weeks.  Then it said if I thought my card was compromised to call an 800 number to speak with a fraud specialist.  Why hadn’t I been asked a fraud/compromise question earlier, to avoid wasting my time with this online process?  Bah Humbug!

I call, only to be greeted by an IVR that is spouting out useless drivel like my balance and minimum payment.  I finally reach a human to explain the circumstances.  Although very personable and understanding, she had to transfer me to the fraud department.  Wait a minute!?!?  The aforementioned 800 number said it was specifically for the fraud group.  So why was I being transferred?  My “inner Scrooge” is about to become my outer, very vocal Scrooge when the new fraud rep quickly resolves the $3,500 charge.

Even when the problem is resolved, there can be a significant impact if it isn’t handled the first time - as it was in my case.  I recently read a survey from Carlisle and Gallagher Consulting Group on complaint management and first call resolution.  In their research, fraud was the third-highest complaint type, but the more interesting stat was the impact on the customer/banking relationship, as shown above.

The chance for future business is more than HALVED while reducing business, or even leaving, INCREASES SIX-FOLD!  Lucky for my bank, I fall into the nearly two-thirds of customers who will not change behavior.  The advice I have for them: while all your reps were great, all you had to do to avoid a potential Scrooge outburst was take care of the charge you called me about at the outset.  Oh, and fix your web site and phone tree.

Fortunately, as in the Dickens classic, the ending is happy.  As Scrooge proclaimed, “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all the world!”