MRM’s Emily Webb wonders why in the age of technology and global connections her bank never bothered to call… or text… or email
I am not impressed when I find out my bank is ‘watching out for me’ and kindly protecting my identity by blocking the use of my debit card. I’d like to write that this has only happened once but as I tried to get the card unblocked this morning, the cumbersome system of calling and verifying my identity to a robotic drone voice by pressing numbers when prompted felt all too familiar. Automatically shutting off my debit card seems rash and archaic; my bank has my email address and my mobile number. In fact I’ve had unsolicited texts from them in the past highlighting services and promotions. Surely they could contact me first?
Here’s what happened. I attempted to book a hotel in South Africa late last night using my card on a website. I had already taken the time to go in person to a branch to tell my bank I was visiting the southern hemisphere and to ask them not to block my card when I used it there. The branch told me they could not attach a note to my account regarding my travel plans. Instead they suggested I call them once the card is inevitably blocked upon first use in South Africa. They will endeavour to lift the ban as quickly as possible. This call will be at my own expense of course.
I hadn’t expected my card would be blocked before I even left the country – simply by trying to use it on a South African hotel website.
This really does not seem like the best way of making my travel more enjoyable, nor does it do much for my confidence in their protection against identity theft.
Identity theft is rampant in the UK and thriving globally. In fact, according to a technology researcher, The Gartner Group: “More than £1.6 million worth of card fraud occurs on UK plastic cards every day. A fraudulent transaction takes place every eight seconds.” Therefore fraud safety checks are a necessary function of the bank and customer account safety is surely of the utmost importance.
I accept this – most people do.
However, it seems to me that there are many ways my bank could have tried to reach me to ask a couple of questions that could have addressed this issue right away, rather than block my card without telling me so that I only discovered what had happened when I couldn’t pay for my 11 o’clock snack this morning.