Wells Fargo and Visa are introducing an automated alerting system that will notify credit card customers of transaction activity via SMS text message and e-mail.
The Rapid Alerts system sees notices sent on behalf of Wells Fargo directly from VisaNet, Visa's global processing network, typically within seconds of a transaction occurring.
The alerts are triggered when the transaction meets criteria set by the account holder. Customers can choose to be alerted to a variety of types of card usage, including ATM withdrawals, international transactions, Internet or phone payments and transactions above specified amounts.
The free e-mail and text alerts contain the amount, time and date of the transaction, as well as currency conversion and information relating to the merchant, such as name and location.
Visa first announced plans to pilot the system in 2008 with eight North American banks, including Wells Fargo, which is now the first to embark on a commercial roll out following an "overwhelmingly positive response" to its trial.
The bank's eagerness to introduce the technology may also have been influenced by the personal experience of its group executive vice president of card services and consumer lending Kevin Rhein.
Rhein told Bloomberg that he recently received an alert on his BlackBerry while at home in Minneapolis warning that his card had been used to buy a $1500 laptop in Las Vegas.
"If I didn't have that alert, they would have continued on their merry way charging until something got triggered in our fraud warnings," he told the newswire. "What we picked up here was the value of more immediate information to perhaps shut down fraud that much faster."