A Business Technology Place

Well played Amex


This week I received a useful email in what I call my Spam Hole inbox. It’s the second email account that I use for anything outside of personal correspondence. The message came from American Express. It stated that based on my past purchase history they knew that I had an upcoming trip planned. There was no need to call them to flag the account for travel because they had already noted it on file.

The message was timely, because in years past I have called credit issuers to alert them about personal travel. This time, through a simple scanning program that searches for keywords about travel they could tell what I was about to do. It was convenience to me and saved a phone call or visit to my online profile to look for the setting. It’s better for them because it reduces labor to answer calls and provides them with consistency for how they flag card member travels.

Is this an invasion of privacy? I more consider it a good use of technology. The card company already has my personal information when they reviewed it for credit.  I think it’s great that they are proactively searching for ways to prevent fraud. Ultimately that means less hassle for me dealing with fraudulent purchases and better service from American Express.

These days when we receive electronic messages like this our first thought is to not trust the email. This communication from American Express was crafted in such a way that it reduced my concern for fraud. It was more informative and less action oriented. There was nothing in the email about clicking a link to change a password or to view important details in my account. There were no attachments. The email offered information about my account and also gave a couple of suggestions about communication paths they like to use with customers (app and mobile phone).

So Kudos this week to American Express for proactively flagging my account for travel purchases and crafting an email that didn’t give me concern that it contained malware. Sometimes the simple things mean the most.


Onward and upward!


Kudos to American Express Customer Service

It happened again.

My credit card number was stolen again. This time it was the American Express card, a first. (In the past it was always Visa). The good news is that as usual I received an alert from the credit card company based on suspicious activity. It was a single transaction that set-off the alarm bells this time. I will say I’m impressed with the credit card companies’ algorithms to detect potential fraud. In each case  they correctly identified fraud and the card issuer ended up alerting me before I noticed it on a statement. That’s great for them since it limits their losses.

I was also impressed with the American Express customer experience throughout the incident. It included the initial notification of potential fraud, the confirmation of a new card issue, the confirmation of the new card delivery, and the reminder to check merchants which may have the card on file which included a list of potential merchants.

The notification.

The first alert was an email notification that there might be potential fraud. I’m leery of emails from any of my financial services providers as I always suspect a phishing attack. So I called the number on the back of my card to check the account. Sure enough the email was legitimate. After answering a few questions about recent transactions, my account was closed and they send a new card via overnight mail. I guess since it was peak shopping season they wanted to make sure I didn’t go anywhere without their card in my wallet!


The confirmation.

Then I received two emails confirming that a new would be on my doorstep soon.

Amex2 Amex3

The follow-up. 

As a great follow-up to the experience I received an email showing specific merchants from my purchase history that might have my previous card number on record. While I had already updated or cancelled most of these, there were a couple that I had not thought about. Nice touch!


An idea for credit card companies investigating fraud incidents

This past summer my Visa credit card number was stolen. I was out of town when I received a call from my credit card company asking about suspicious activity. There were charges appearing from a state that I was not vacationing in and where I do not reside. Thankfully they had already shutdown the card. I just needed to review the chargers with them and state which charges I did not make. They mailed me an affidavit in the mail to sign stating that I did not make the charges and issued me a new account number.

That process worked well and was easy to follow. I appreciated the fact that they were proactive and stopped the fraudster from committing additional violations using my credit. However once it was over, I had no further contact with the credit card company about the matter.

As I think about it, there is an opportunity here for credit card companies to help prevent future fraud incidents. Well, maybe not completely prevent, but at least reduce the likelihood of ocurrance.

I consider myself to be pretty good at keeping up with consumer advice about how to protect my financial matters from crooks. But in this case, my credit card company didn’t share any information with me about how they think the fraud happened. Maybe they didn’t know. But giving customers a bit of fraud education when they are victim’s is in the best interest of the account holder and the credit card company. Maybe I made a mistake I could learn from and not repeat.

At the end of the day I didn’t lose a dime. But I could in the future if I am a victim to another identity theft crime. I assume the credit card company had to write-off the fraudulent charges so they were the loser. My suggestion to credit card companies is to educate the consumer on what they could do different not only from a general list of best practices but with any specific information about their particular incident.

Could ad space be next on your cards?

Wells Fargo is now offering Card Design Studio Service as a way to customize the picture or logo on your credit card. Personal credit card holders can upload a photo of themselves, their family, their pet, or whatever.  Businesses can upload graphics with their logo or brand image. The service is free to card holders from Wells Fargo.Other financial institutions are also offering the service including Bank of America and  Capital One,

Debit and credit cards have gone the way of checks where consumers can now personalize according to a lifestyle, brand, image, etc. You personal payment method can be a reflection of your beliefs, values, interests or hobbies.

What’s the next step in the use of this real-estate? Will marketers start to sell advertising space on your credit card or checks? Imagine if someone was willing to pay you for putting their logo or tag line on your payment method?   The more swipes of the card, the more you earn. Or the more checks you write, the more you earn. You could consider cash back cards a variant of this already. However, I’m thinking about an advertising space for someone not affiliated with the financial institution or card provider.

It’s just a thought. In our commercial and ad crazy society there aren’t many places left that don’t have some kind of paid advertisement. Your payment vehicle may be next.  Can you imagine a McDonald’s ad on that university alumni credit card?