Today, I opened up my Citibank account online to do a transfer and I noticed I had a message. I opened it up and saw that it was a message telling me that Citibank had recently discovered that my debit card had been compromised and they had put a block on my card, for my own protection.
My immediate response was suspicion and confusion, because I had just used my card to purchase an Amazon Instant Video rental and the message was dated yesterday. If my card was blocked, how was I able to make a purchase with it?
I didn’t trust the message. I wasn’t sure (and really I’m still not sure because I forgot to ask) if those messages only come from bank employees, or if they can be spoofed somehow. I used the Live Chat feature to connect with an online representative who immediately told me to call a phone number, which I thought was a little silly. What’s the point of having a Live Chat if you can’t get anything done through it? Maybe it’s just for asking basic questions.
Anyway, the first guy I talked to asked me questions about my account, which was normal. Then he started asking questions that seemed a little unnecessary. When he asked me for the security code on the back of my debit card, I started questioning the whole phone call and wondering if I’d accidentally gone to a fishing site and screwed myself. So, I politely declined to answer any more questions, hung up, double checked everything and called back using their regular number.
The second time I called, the guy that answered had a thick Indian accent, which, oddly enough was completely reassuring. I was in familiar territory again.
Jokes aside, the guy basically told me I needed a new card and arranged to have it shipped overnight to the nearest branch. That’s cool. I get that.
The thing about the whole process that upsets me is why it happened. More specifically, the fact that I don’t know why it happened! When I asked the first guy I talked to for details, to explain to me why my card was blocked, he said that a retailer had alerted Citibank that they might have been compromised and it immediately flags any Citibank cards that might have been used not only at that retailer, but anywhere in that area. That could have been a diversion though, because when I asked specifically who was compromised, he refused to tell me the name of the company. When I asked him why, he said it was to protect the business.
Now, I’m not opposed to forgiving a business that might have had their online storefront hacked, or accepting that once in a while a brick & mortar might have had a bad employee. I appreciate the fact that the business took the time to notify the bank. However, I feel that as a customer I should have the right to know what business it was, so that I can make my own decision about whether or not I feel comfortable shopping there again.
It’s my money. It’s my card. It’s my discretion. The bank shouldn’t protect businesses. It should protect its consumers by letting them know that it may be unsafe to shop at certain stores.
I can guess that the reason Citibank won’t release that information is because they have an agreement with businesses that if they guarantee anonymity, the businesses will guarantee reporting of potential fraud or theft of credit card information.
So, I don’t know that I can really blame Citibank. The only entity I can blame is Congress, because if my theory is right, then the fault lies with a lack of appropriate legislation to require reporting and require informing customers of where their account information was compromised.
It should be the customer first, all the time. I shouldn’t have to keep getting my account compromised until I can guess which company is at fault based on my shopping history. Having my debit card locked is a big issue. What if it were a day when automatic payments for bills were supposed to be withdrawn? Those would have all been declined, and I would have been up shit creek, and Citibank would have apologized but said they did it for my own good. As it is, I’m almost going to miss a good sale on a camera bag I need. Thankfully, they ship the new card overnight (which means Saturday, since it’s late in the evening already).
Well, at least there’s no debit card fee yet. I wonder how Hitler would react to this?