Credit Card With Less Fraud Disruption?
July 15, 2016 12:05 PM   Subscribe

I have had my credit card canceled and re-issued at least every 3-4 months for a couple of years for fraud. Help!

Everyone knows what a pain it is to re-do all of the accounts and auto-pays. Are there particular types of cards or issuers that are known as being better or worse in this way? I am thinking about changing cards/issuers, though perhaps this is just an endemic problem for all issuers? I use a credit union (PenFed) and this is becoming a serious pain - and the customer service in terms of getting a new card is slow. Thanks
posted by Mid to Work & Money (28 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Use a different card for recurring payments. If you use it ONLY for this, then it won't be need to be reissued when there's a breach at a brick-and-mortar store.
posted by kindall at 12:10 PM on July 15, 2016 [10 favorites]

I would be more concerned with how your card is getting stolen that frequently!

Have you been able to determine any sort of pattern?

Are you going to a certain store, or buying from a certain online business before this occurs?

Have you had your computer checked for viruses and malware?

If you've done all this, then if I were you I would have a talk with my bank as to whether their customers as a whole are having similar problems. Good luck!
posted by Hanuman1960 at 12:11 PM on July 15, 2016 [5 favorites]

That is a crazy amount of card fraud -- have you put any thought into how you are being targeted so often?

You might want to have a read/listen to the prologue and first act of this This American Life episode.
posted by sparklemotion at 12:12 PM on July 15, 2016 [5 favorites]

I travel a lot of work - lots of hotels/restaurants in different places. I figure that's it? Maybe I need a travel-only card.
posted by Mid at 12:14 PM on July 15, 2016 [6 favorites]

Heh, sparklemotion beat me to it. Your card or card number is being stolen by someone you know, or see frequently and (at least) passively trust. Re-evaluate who you trust with your card, either explicitly by handing it to them, or implicitly by not securing the card around that person.
posted by Sunburnt at 12:15 PM on July 15, 2016 [8 favorites]

Most major cards will let you generate random virtual numbers to use online instead of your actual credit card number - does PenFed offer this?

It won't help with restaurants, so maybe a second card for travel purchases.
posted by Dashy at 12:17 PM on July 15, 2016

Agreed that you should get multiple cards. In your situation I'd probably have 3:
- One for all recurring payments that you can keep on ice otherwise (also useful because if you DO need to replace this card it's really easy to look at past history to see what needs to be updated without sifting through huge amounts of transactions).
- One for travel and anything that local that seems sketchy.
- One additional for daily stuff - online/relatively trusted retailer purchases (e.g. the default in your Amazon account) and local purchases at Panera and Safeway and whatever.

Assuming you're a pay-off-your-balance sort, just make sure you're paying all the cards every month and keeping a relatively low overall utilization, this shouldn't effect your credit score or anything in any major way.
posted by brainmouse at 12:32 PM on July 15, 2016 [7 favorites]

I have had a long, long, long run of success with American Express. I don't have a "modern" Amex; I just carry the normal, you-have-to-pay-it-every-month card. When I travelled more and it made sense, it was the Platinum one, but now that I don't I'm on a lower tier card that has some point multipliers.

I *have* had some fraud instances, but I've also been carrying an Amex for 26 years. The most recent one was probably 8 or 9 years ago. They called me, asked me if I'd just spent $2600 on flowers in Brooklyn (which I had not), and had a new card to me in about 48 hours (they actually asked if I needed them to overnight the card, but I wasn't on the road so 2 days was fine). I never saw a fraudulent charge on my bills at all -- they caught it on their own.

American Express cards have a fee attached, but that fee has, in my experience, produced both measurable and usable benefits AND superior customer service. My experiences with them are such that, until recently, I literally didn't even HAVE a Visa or Mastercard at all -- just the AX and my debit card.
posted by uberchet at 12:37 PM on July 15, 2016 [8 favorites]

Seconding Amex. I have had a few breaches over the two decades i have had the card, but every one of them was caught by amex before i even knew the problem existed.

It does seem strange to have so many, but one of my parents has had way more breaches than i do and rarely uses her card online at all, where as i use mine for everything. She blames walmart, which is the one place I hardly ever go so maybe she's onto something.
posted by domino at 12:47 PM on July 15, 2016

FWIW, I have cards with I believe all of the top issuers, and I change which ones I'm using as my primary card from time to time. I have noticed that some issuers have either worse luck or lower thresholds for closing accounts/replacing cards - definitely some of my cards seem much more likely to get closed due to compromise than others, even with the same spending patterns.

And yes, using one solely for recurring charges makes this much less annoying.
posted by primethyme at 12:54 PM on July 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

A couple of additional points to consider: the window for magstripe fraud is starting to close in the US with the new EMV push, so fraudsters are getting a lot more gung-ho about eking out what they can from it before the US finally switches over to chip & pin. Also, if your card isn't a chip & pin variety already, try to switch to one that is. It doesn't completely close the door, since there are still plenty of retailers who are only set up to accept magstripe payments at the moment, but it should start helping to reduce your exposure somewhat.

I definitely like the suggestion for a separate card for recurring payments though.
posted by Aleyn at 12:58 PM on July 15, 2016

Amex, Discover, and Bank of America have all protected a single account number for over 10 years, for me. I finally dropped Penfed because they were too annoying and high maintenance with all the security stuff.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 1:03 PM on July 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh, and I guess I've had a Chase card for over a decade too, but I don't use that one as much so maybe it had less chance of being stolen.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 1:05 PM on July 15, 2016

Are you sure actual fraud has ever taken place?

Issuers are using algorithms which look for patterns of activity which could be fraudulent, such as use in geographically distant regions within a short time-frame, which might be triggered by the travel you do for business, and asking account-holders about them, and it would be only a short step from that to some kind of precautionary cancellation, particularly for an issuer that didn't have the staff for a lot of customer service.
posted by jamjam at 1:05 PM on July 15, 2016 [3 favorites]

Most major cards will let you generate random virtual numbers to use online instead of your actual credit card number

Actually, this seems not to be true anymore. I think only Citi and Bank of America offer this service now.
posted by kindall at 1:17 PM on July 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yes, at least some of the instances have involved actual unauthorized charges. The last one (today) involved gas station purchases not by me. All of the unauthorized charges are in distant places - i.e., not someone taking the card from me and going down the street.

What's been particularly annoying about PenFed is that they seem to contract-out for all of the credit card service/processing, so when you call them to talk about this kind of issue you get transferred to some kind of "Card Services" entity that is very unhelpful. I'm thinking perhaps something like AmEx, where I assume everything is "in house," would be better.
posted by Mid at 1:19 PM on July 15, 2016

I hate to speak well of any credit card company, but we keep a Chase/Amazon card for recurring payments and a Capital One card for general use, and every once in a while will get a random airline miles card from Chase for some special thing ("80k miles and I can cancel before the year? Woohoo!"). None of the Chase cards have been stolen yet, Capital One has been super pro-active on catching fraud, expeditious in sending us new cards, and has had pretty good customer service. The few times I've had to call Chase haven't really been bad either.
posted by straw at 1:42 PM on July 15, 2016

My card used to get hacked so routinely that I'm doing the following to help make things less of a hassle in the future when it comes to the inevitable fraud.

1) Recurring payments. This card gets tossed into a drawer most of the time, and I have used it as a back-up for purchases when/if waiting for a new card to be sent to me.
2) Online shopping.
3) Local purchases.
4) Travel.

I keep a back-up card in case of emergencies, whatever, so I'm not stuck using paper checks or cash when and if a card gets used fraudulently. I also have stopped saving credit card information in websites, although that only helps so much with data breaches.

Chase, Discover, and AmEx have been the best when it comes to their customer service and fraud prevention, so these are my "main 3" cards. My 4th card is a Bank of America travel rewards card that I got to use specifically while for travel, and it's new-ish, so no problems yet. *knock on wood*

Discover and AmEx were the easiest cards to use in terms of protesting charges, Chase's dispute process is a bit confusing, but they're by far the most aggressive at canceling cards when they even catch a whiff of suspicious activity. (I was traveling and the first gas station I tried was out of regular, so I drove on ahead to a second one. At the second gas station I tried to use that night, Chase immediately sent me texts and wanted to know if it was me.)

Capital One is well-meaning, but their customer service is insane, and they want to cancel the card for every little thing; even one time when I was having a login issue with their website. So I can't recommend them. Store credit cards are the worst at any sort of prevention, fraud detection, and often customer assistance, so I also can't recommend those.

I'd probably use a Chase or maybe my oldest currently-held credit card account for recurring payments and the occasional back-up option, an AmEx for travel, and Discover for online shopping. Then I'd fill the last category with something useful for my specific credit card situation--Chase has pretty good options there, or if you travel frequently on one specific airline, hotel chain, whatever, those can be great for perks.

It's sometimes tricky to keep up with that many accounts, but when I did this my credit score actually improved because my credit line went up but about $10k, so my credit utilization rate dropped by about 75%. It also made it a lot easier for me to check for fraud because my statements were now relatively short (1-3 pages) instead of the 10-15 page monsters I had to comb through for discrepancies back when I was using one card all the time.
posted by PearlRose at 1:44 PM on July 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

I like the advice of having different cards for traveling and other's what we do. I find that when I have had my credit cards physically stolen the thieves never stole my Discover Card. Just left it right there in the wallet and took my Visa and MasterCard!

So now I leave my other cards a home for occasional use, and only cary my Discover card. I use one other card only for web purchases and one other card only for monthy charges, subscriptions, etc...
posted by bessiemae at 2:14 PM on July 15, 2016

Yes, AmEx is great for this, especially for travelers. And if you're traveling that much, you should be using a really good rewards card anyway!

I have a card connected to my bank that I use for routine, recurring expenses: cable bill, magazine subscriptions, etc.

I have a card I use for shopping, including online shopping, and restaurants and other in-person stuff in my own city.

And then I have a travel card. Which card will be right for you will depend on where and how you travel, but if you can stick primarily to one airline family and one hotel family (and there's a ton written on the internet about how to choose, if you're not already taking advantage of this).

I choose which card to use for which based on who's giving the best rewards points in the categories I'm using that card for. I get an average of about 4% cash back on almost everything I buy. It's a great system. And I have only had cards cancelled or replaced for fraud twice, and both times, it was a card I had used someplace sketchy, like a local bar with no name in a small town in the middle of nowhere. But both times, it was no big deal because I had other ways to access my money.
posted by decathecting at 3:33 PM on July 15, 2016

Nthing Amex. There's a yearly fee, but it's worth it. (We use the basic green, "pay the entire balance every month" card.) Twice they've phoned us to ask about fraudulent charges ($2000 worth of baby furniture, and $1000 of stuff at Home Depot at 7am on a weekend morning) and were great about getting us new cards quickly.
posted by BlahLaLa at 3:38 PM on July 15, 2016

Not all amex cards have an annual fee. The Blue Cash Everyday is an example of a card that doesn't.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 3:53 PM on July 15, 2016

In addition to the excellent advice above, I recommend you (or a security savvy associate) give your computer a thorough assessment for malware or keyloggers. That seems like an abnormally high amount of fraud going on... you might even consider getting a new harddrive and starting from scratch. Install anti-virus and anti-malware apps on your system immediately after a clean install and before you go online.

Other security tips:

1. Since you travel a lot and frequently use other wireless networks, install a VPN on your systems and your cell phones if you use them for banking. I like and use Private Internet Access.

2. Consider using a password manager like 1Password or Lastpass. They have the option to store not just passwords and website logins, but also secure notes and your credit card(s) info securely in the app; that way, when you shop online and are ready to checkout, the app can autofill in your credit card info without you having to type anything. This can protect against keylogging.

3. When shopping online, use a one time use or virtual card number that's tied back to your "real" credit card number, don't give or store your real card number on merchant websites. If the website won't let you delete your card data, consider shopping elsewhere or inputting fake credit card info after your purchase.

4. Don't let your credit card out of your sight when making a purchase, especially at restaurants. This kind of skimming bs happens more often than you'd think.

5. Learn what skimmers look like so you can spot them at gas stations and other places you need to swipe your card.

I'd also lean on your bank a little harder for some answers about what they're doing to protect your info and consider changing banks if you're dissatisfied.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 4:11 PM on July 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

There is a lot of great advice in this thread. I have also had good luck with Amex in that I have never had a breach with them ever. I segregate card use as well - one card is used for recurring billing stuff and nothing else, and that one never gets compromised. One card (the Amex) gets used for all travel purchases and almost nothing else, and that one has never been compromised either. The one I use out in the world for random things like sketchy gas stations and the occasional Stubhub purchase? That one's been compromised approximately once a year.
posted by bedhead at 7:19 PM on July 15, 2016

Just wanted to suggest REI's mastercard. They have some crazy levels of fraud protection - basically whenever I travel I absolutely must, must, must call them or they won't let a charge go through. A hassle, but definitely saves some trouble with fraud. Also, I detected some fraud on my last trip and they resolved it quickly.

I like the idea of having a few cards: one for travel, one for recurring charges etc. so that if you have a problem with one, you have back up.
posted by Toddles at 7:32 PM on July 15, 2016

Unfortunately, AmEx is often not accepted due to the high fees they charge retailers and always seems to come with an annual fee and no interesting bonus system. They also seem to mistreat their co-branding partners to the extent that both my AmEx cards (Virgin Atlantic and Costco) have become non-AmEx because they lost the contract.

I like the United Mileage Plus Explorer because it gives you benefits when you fly and has no currency conversion penalty when used abroad.

I like the Amazon Visa card because of 3% back at Amazon, in a form that's convenient to spend there.

The new Costco Visa is interesting as it has no annual fee and gives cash back, e.g. 4% on gas.
posted by w0mbat at 9:47 PM on July 15, 2016

One last thing - when you use Apple Pay on an iPhone or Apple Watch you are protected as it hides your actual card number from the retailer. I wish this was accepted everywhere.
posted by w0mbat at 9:53 PM on July 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

(Very much a fan of ApplePay as well.)
posted by uberchet at 11:29 AM on July 18, 2016

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