Monday, June 19, 2006

Someone is Watching Out For Me.

This post is meant to be a great big shout-out to the people at Discover for saving my ass, and to the awesome people at an outfit called Crutchfield for their likewise awesomeness.

On a recent weekday morning, as I was getting ready to head out of the apartment for work, I heard the phone ringing while I was in the shower. Never one to pick up my land line (it's usually telemarketers), I let the machine get it and went on with my day. Here's the message I got:

Hi, this message is for Dennis! This is Austin, I'm with Crutchfield Corporation. I'm calling about an order that was placed with us. Please give us a call back at 800.XXX.XXXX. The order number is XXXXXXX. We're open until midnight eastern time. Thank you.

Knowing nothing of these people, I blew them off with the intent to listen to the message again when I got home, or during a lull at work. I hadn't heard the message carefully, so I figured it was some kind of sales call or something.

At work, I retrieved my messages again, only to find that I had received yet another new call:

This is the Discover card fraud prevention department. Please call us immediately regarding recent activity on a Discover card account. This is not a sales call. You can reach us at 800.XXX.XXXX. The ability to make future charges on this account may be restricted until we hear from you.

Suddenly things were piecing themselves together. I backed up and listened to the Crutchfield message again, and I'm pretty sure the blood drained from my face.

I called Crutchfield first. Making my way to a live person was easy, and I found myself on the phone with a very nice young lady who asked for my order number. I gave it to her, then asked what it is they sell there. (I'm sure this raised a red flag for her right there: "Here's my order number. Could you tell me what it is I'm supposed to have ordered?").

So we had a very nice discussion wherein I advised this sweet young woman that, in fact, no, unfortunately, I did not order any products from her company. I even made sure that they didn't use any third-party vendors and that I didn't accidentally order from them through amazon or something.

Here's why Crutchfield kicks so much ass: When trying to authorize my card, the card couldn't properly authenticate my billing address, so there was some issue with clearing the card. They actually did a reverse lookup on me to find my home telephone number to contact me. Okay, so maybe they did it just to try to get their money, but in my mind what they ended up doing was providing me first alert service that my credit card number had been compromised.

Crutchfield promptly cancelled my order. I thanked them profusely for alerting me to the problem and not blindly shipping the product off and charging me for it.

Then I called Discover.

The phone number they gave me was a direct line to a fraud prevention hotline, so I was put directly in touch with a specialist who could look up my account and ask me about my most recent purchases.

Most cool? They were calling about purchases that hadn't even posted to my account yet. I was looking at my account online while talking to him and I couldn't even see the Crutchfield charge, because it was still pending. Discover made the effort to call me about a purchase that hadn't even made its way through yet.

So I told the nice young man on the phone that no, I haven't used my card since last Sunday, and that the TWO pending charges he saw on his account could not possibly be mine. I owned up to a few charges on Sunday (though part of me was tempted to tell them that those charges weren't mine either, to save a few bucks), and told him the rest was bad news.

What amazes me most about Discover is that they did this even though I have strange spending habits in the first place. If you look over my charge history on that card, there's all kinds of strange stuff on there: books, drinks/dinner, on line shopping, gym membership, blah blah blah... I use that card for almost everything. There's very little rhyme or reason to my purchases. Yet they were able to identify this one as "anomalous" and took swift and appropriate action. How awesome is that?

The nice young gentleman put a hold on any new charges on the card from Sunday forward, and is issuing me a new card with a new card number (which will arrive in seven to ten days).

So here's to these two places. Even though there's a chance they only called me because there was an obstacle to the actual exchanging of money, I prefer to think that they still cared about consumer safety, took the time to make sure that this particular consumer didn't find his bank account and his credit rating screwed.


Anonymous said...

Denis, having been there I understand why you are so grateful to these companies. But ...the sorry truth is they do it for themselves not you. The fact is you can contest any charge on your card and at WORST you are stuck with a $50 charge. It is relatively easy to fix and trust me, this little proviso provided to us by Congress was fought kicking and screaming by credit card companies.

Just to show you where their hearts really are, credit card companies are now fighting a provision in Congress that would let consumers freeze their credit, meaning a consumer's credit is basically locked down and cannot be opened by anyone except the consumer, without going through a lot of steps -- a really effective deterent to identify theft. That would prevent the absolute worse case scenario --someone opens a card in your name and goes on a big time spree. It not nearly so easy to dig yourself out of that scenario, you are not directly protected under law like you are with a legitimate credit card, and in that situation your credit is likely to be ruined far more easily than what almost happened to you. I'd freeze my credit in a hearbeat if Maryland would let its residents do so.

Credit card companies dont want consumers to have the right to freeze their credit becuase then , yes , consumer wont use credit! I am sorry to burst your bubble and go on like some policy wonk deeb here but after the Bankruptcy Act they paid Congress, err, lobbied Congress to pass it has become fairly clear to me that credit card companies really dont give a rats ass about consumers.
By the way I love your pics on DC Blogs
Sorry this is so long

Anonymous said...

Me again
Forgot to say, the Crutchfield company, though, acted really rightous

Ryan said...

To offer an opposing viewpoint, I got my Visa pregnant this morning. I couldn't pull out in time. Oops!

Wendy said...

While I agree that credit card companies are not working to help IS quite helpful. I'm glad you didn't get charged! The hassle to UNDO it is really annoying. Been there.

And hey, thanks for stopping by my site to comment! Nice to "meet" you...

duane said...

coolness!!! They have done this for me in the past. they even reversed a charge before they had gotten confirmation from the company that incorrectly charged me. Discover is cool!

katie said...

When my house was burglarized they got my discover card as well (it was sitting on my desk, as I had paid my bill online the night before). The police suggested I allow the theives to have the card for a couple of hours, and then call it in.

The people at Discover Card were so helpful, and actually told me how sorry they were that my house had been broken into. The theives had used the card at two gas stations, and I didn't have to pay for it. I had a new card 3 days later.

Overall I was really happy with the way they handled things.

Anyway, I wonder what made them flag this particular purchase? Any clue how someone else got your number?

Dennis! said...

Anon: I totally hear you, but I'm going ot cling fast to my naive doe-eyed outlook that, in this one instance, it was all about protecting me. (After the last few weeks, I need to believe the universe isn't taking a huge collective dump on me anwyay.)

Ryan: ..... There are no words.

Katie: Sorry to hear you were burglarized. Glad to know the card helped you out. I can only guess that they flagged this purchase not because it was out of character for me (whatever that means), but because they person using my card couldn't accurately repeat my information (I think it was address).

I'm particularly impressed, though, that Crutchfield actually looked researched my telephone number to find me to be sure it was me. Big thumbs up on that.

MoDigli said...

Sweetness! So glad you headed off a possible major disaster.

Still, I'd like to know what the hell crutchfield sells.

Will said...

Crutchfield rocks. It's a home electronics company based in Charlottesville, VA. When I was at the University of Virginia a lot of the phone reps were UVA students picking up some cash. Wahoos are, by nature, extremely nice folks. Glad to hear they were so helpful.