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Alice in Credit Card Land

Uploaded by palma on Sep 11, 2000

Sam Vaknin's Psychology, Philosophy, Economics and Foreign Affairs Web Sites


Your credit card is stolen. You place a phone call to the number provided in your tourist guide or in the local daily press. You provide your details and you cancel your card. You block it. In a few minutes, it should be transferred to the stop-list available to the authorization centres worldwide. From that moment on, no thief will be able to fraudulently use your card. You can sigh in relief. The danger is over.

But is it ?

It is definitely not. To understand why, we should first review the intricate procedure involved.

In principle, the best and safest thing to do is call the authorization centre of the bank that issued your card (the issuer bank). Calling the number published in the media is second best because it connects the cardholder to a “volunteer” bank, which caters for the needs of all the issuers of a given card. Some service organizations (such as IAPA – the International Air Passengers Association) provide a similar service.

The “catering bank” accepts the call, notes down the details of the cardholder and prepares a fax containing the instruction to cancel the card. The cancellation fax is then sent on to the issuing bank. The details of all the issuing banks are found in special manuals published by the clearing and payments associations of all the banks that issue a specific card. All the financial institutions that issue Mastercards, Eurocards and a few other more minor cards in Europe are members of Europay International (EPI). Here lies the first snag : the catering bank often mistakes the identity of the issuer. Many banks share the same name or are branches of a network. Banks with identical names can exist in Prague, Budapest and Frankfurt, or Vienna, for instance. Should a fax cancelling the card be sent to the wrong bank – the card will simply not be cancelled until it is too late. By the time the mistake is discovered, the card is usually thoroughly abused and the financial means of the cardholder are exhausted.

Additionally, going the indirect route (calling an intermediary bank instead of the issuing bank) translates into a delay which could prove monetarily crucial. By the time the fax is sent, it might be no longer necessary.

If the card has been abused and fraudulent purchases or money...

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Uploaded by:   palma

Date:   09/11/2000

Category:   Business and Economics

Length:   5 pages (1,199 words)

Views:   1570

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