The mysteries of how credit card fraud divisions actually work

I am without a credit card in the US which is very scary since it’s the only way for me to pay for anything here until I move it to my US bank account. Standard Bank has stopped my card (or have they?) because Mastercard said that it has been “compromised”. I’m documenting the comedy of errors as it happens below:

Day 1. 5am, 13 August: My mom calls me to say that the bank had gotten hold of a friend from work to say that they were stopping my card. The fraud division had stopped my card twice in the past month to “check” whether I’d made purchases online or not. I was traveling when this happened and luckily was able to draw cash. I had called them and told them that I was traveling to the US and that they should contact me via email if they wanted to get hold of me. They said they would put a note on my file to say that I was traveling and where to contact me.

I called the fraud division on skype and spoke to someone for half an hour who said that my card had been “compromised” but didn’t know the details of this “compromise” and that they would need to re-issue me with a new card. This would take 5 days and someone would have to pick it up for me because they don’t post internationally. I have a new pin card which supposedly protects one from these things so now I have to call them to get my pin again (or can I? no one really seems to know.)

My call breaks up so that I can’t tell them to send the card to the Benoni branch rather than Rosebank, so I call my mom and she calls them back. I have to send an email to cpclostcarddepar@standardbank.co.za to tell them this (why fraud division couldn’t just deal with it, I do not know). I send them a mail and cc Prestige Banking.

I had been tweeting this as it was happening, and as always, my twitter friends prevented me from going totally insane. Standard_Blank on Twitter (“Holding Standard Bank Accountable”) tweets my problem and tells me to get in touch with Standardbankgrp (“official Standard Bank on Twitter”).

Day 2. 14 August: Standardbankgrp DMs me and asks for my details. I provide them.

Day 3. 15 August: I get a reply from Prestige Banking to say that I sent my email to the wrong email address (fraud division had provided me with it) and that they’ve forwarded my email to them. I haven’t heard from Standardbankgrp and am worried that this is now going to take even longer now.

The weirdest thing is that I can still use my credit card for some things (I “paid” a deposit for renting movies yesterday) and I can transact with the card using online banking. If the card really has been compromised, and if it really has been stopped, then why can’t I see this online?

Day 5. 17 August: Apparently Card Division was also not the correct department for this query. I now receive a mail from Private Banking in response to my original email saying that I need to contact Fraud Division and that they had been trying to contact me. I have no idea why the email couldn’t merely have been forwarded to the Fraud Divison (after all, they merely needed to confirm where the card should be sent to, which had been confirmed directly after I spoke to them and in subsequent emails).

On a positive note, I received word from Standardbankgrp and Complaints Resolution saying that they are attending to my problem. Still have no credit card, and don’t know whether it has even been issued yet.

The comedy of errors continues…

Update: After these posts here and on Twitter, my complaint was very swiftly resolved by Denise Singh (Manager: Executive & Escalated Complaints Resolution, Standard Bank). She called me in the US, put me onto a conference call with someone from the Fraud Department (who was defensive at first) and then someone from the Benoni branch, and made sure I receive my card as soon as possible. Denise was really professional. I only wish we could transfer some of her skills so that everyone (not just those who Tweet) get this kind of service.

And still I learn about online credit card fraud. Comments/suggestions always welcome!

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