A near-real-time alerts program launched by PSCU Financial Services will notify credit unions and their members of transactions that take place on their Visa accounts, according to a recent release from the company. Users may choose the type of alerts they receive and whether to receive them via email or text message.
An alert will appear within seconds, according to the release, and can include information about transactions made internationally, without a card, exceeding a specified dollar amount and at a gas pump. Declined transactions may also spark an alert through the system. Detailed information about where and when the charge took place can help users determine whether they were responsible - or if it may be indicative of identity theft.
"We are fully committed to empowering our credit unions and their members with new technologies to reduce the risk of fraud," David Serlo, president of PSCU Financial Services, said. "This new transaction alert service allows Visa credit cardholders to detect potential fraudulent use, providing credit union members more control over their accounts."
The service is operated through VisaNet and joins a series of other instant alert programs launched by credit card lenders in an effort to minimize fraud damages. Wells Fargo recently unveiled a Rapid Alerts program enabling Visa cardholders to be notified when a transaction met certain predetermined criteria. American Express Co. and MasterCard Inc. offer similar services.
A recent report by SmartMoney.com indicated that lenders may be benefiting more from these programs from the consumers they target. Quick notification of fraudulent activity can enable cardholders to take action before the damage becomes too significant.
"However, when purchases and account changes aren't fraudulent, these updates can be problematic, even for the user who has explicitly subscribed for them," the report said. "For example, all the additional messages can amount to an extra helping of daily spam."
At the same time, these programs may protect credit card companies from the liability endured from repeated fraud charges. This is one way, the report said, companies may be aiming to make up for lost revenue in the midst of recent credit card legislation.
Consumers concerned about protecting their personal finances may also sign up for credit monitoring. Like other alert services, this provides prompt notification if something changes on one's credit.