Blog article
See all stories »

Lessons from a fraud

Early one morning a week or so ago I got an automated phone call from my credit card provider. The robot voice reeled off a list of recent transactions. I didn’t recognise one (£10 for a mobile top-up - I use this card uniquely for work expenses) so I pressed ‘1’ as requested. Frankly, I wish I hadn’t bothered.

At that point I was feeling mildly grateful for their vigilance. That feeling really didn’t last.

What happened?

Well, first of all, I was put through to a call centre in India.

There’s a danger here that this post may read as if it is degenerating into a racist rant. I hope it doesn’t. Some of my best friends are call centre workers in Bangalore. Actually, largely speaking I don’t much care where people come from or work. What I do care about is that in certain circumstances – dealing with fraud is one, probate issues is another –  it sounds as if the person on the other end of the phone a) understands the script they are working from and b) cares, even if they are pretending.

Anyhow, I had trouble understanding the call centre operative and she had trouble understanding me, which made working out which transactions were real and which were fraudulent difficult.

Then she told me that she was cancelling my card. Given that I was about to leave for a work trip to Belgium during which I was planning to use the card, this news wasn’t entirely welcome. And no, she couldn’t get me a new one delivered in time.

Finally she told me to ‘have a great day’.

Nowhere was a there a hint of an apology, or any concern that I was inconvenienced. Instead, there was a suggestion that I should be grateful.

But why? It was a credit card. The issuer or the retailer carries the fraud risk. I don’t. The fraud was not my doing. Furthermore I know that card issuers relax fraud monitoring parameters for ‘important’, high value customers they don’t want to offend or inconvenience. So I’m not just inconvenienced, I’m mildly insulted too.

What she did tell me was that the fraudulent transaction would not appear on my next statement. But it did.

I then received a form to fill in from the bank about the transaction. With that form was a letter, informing me amongst other things that, for security reasons, my access to the online card management system had been disabled and I’d have to reregister. After going through the hassle and form filling of reregistering, my reregistration was blocked on the basis that my original account was in fact still active. Which it was. Again, no hint of an apology. Nor has there been any opportunity to feed back on the process.

Of course card fraud is just one of those inconveniences of modern life. At least this issuer doesn’t have the hair trigger fraud detection mechanisms that my other card issuer has. This has led to events like the time when I rang them to warn them that I would be making a large purchase on a particular day in a particular store in a particular city for a particular sum. And they still blocked it on fraud grounds. Or the time they blocked the purchase of a washing machine from John Lewis on the grounds that I’d already bought something from John Lewis the previous day (“What are you? My mother?” I asked the fraud centre). Or the time I warned them I was going to be on holiday in a certain country and they still blocked me paying my hotel bill on the basis it wasn’t a chip and PIN transaction (the country didn’t use chip and PIN). But at least their fraud centre is staffed by people who sound like they are retired policemen and can discuss the fraud without access to a script.

It’s a well known phenomenon that fraud and phishing victims, even when they get their money back from the bank, and I did, still feel violated by the fraud and often change card issuers and banks as a result. So why let your fraud management process add to that feeling of violation? I feel a lot worse about the call centre worker telling me to have a good day straight after removing my ability to pay for my hotel on my work trip than I do about the actual fraudster, to be quite honest.

So what did I learn from the situation? Nothing really except that despite having a ‘platinum’ card (and I got it in the days when platinum meant something) I don’t matter. What did I want? Just an apology and some recognition, delivered in something other than a monotone, that I was the one that was inconvenienced, as well as the issuer.




Comments: (1)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 17 May, 2013, 11:48Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Sadly I have had similar incidents - it seems to me that often the internal processes are not tested for the "customer experience".  Sensitivity is required for these processes as customers may become more inclined to migrate to an alternative bank if they are pushed too far.