Consumer protection from unfair credit lending practices increased with the passage of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act in February 2010. In an effort to make up for lost revenue, credit issuers are actively promoting new anti-fraud programs, leaving many customers feeling harassed and inconvenienced.
Anti-fraud programs are designed to monitor a customer's credit transactions for suspicious activity or uncharacteristic purchases. If a transaction appears suspicious, the credit issuer may de-activate the card temporarily until the customer can be reached to verify the purchase. For example, a consumer can expect to receive a call if they use their credit card on a trip abroad without notifying the credit issuer.
Many issuers are trying to make the anti-fraud programs more accommodating to customers by allowing them to monitor their purchases and set the criteria for what constitutes a suspicious transaction. Wells Fargo created a Rapid Alerts program, which alerts customers of suspicious activity immediately via text message, to make notification more efficient and convenient, according to Smart Money. Bank of America, Chase Bank and American Express have similar programs in place that allow consumers to receive notifications if a transaction surpasses a dollar limit that the customer puts in place or if passwords and other types of account information have been modified, Smart Money reports.
These new text message and email notification methods are an attempt by credit issuers to allow customers more access to their accounts in order to prevent fraudulent activity, but many customers may get frustrated by repeated phone calls and alerts relating to legitimate credit activity. Others may be more inconvenienced if their credit card is shut off for a period of time while suspected activity is investigated, Smart Money reports.
"It is not our intention to annoy our customers with things they don't want," Peter Ho, the product manager for Wells Fargo card services and consumer lending, tells Smart Money.
Credit issuers are instituting these policies partly to both protect customers and maintain their own financial interests. Because consumers are not responsible for fraudulent charges, credit issuers report losses of up to $50 billion each year, according to Consumer Action. Undetected credit card fraud may also lead into the more serious problem of identity theft, which affects nine million Americans each year.