Who knows Your Business?
Today I got an urgent email from my primary credit card company. “Please confirm your recent purchase” said the subject line/”Do you recognize this purchase” said the first line of the email.
I’ve gotten this type of warning email before but it’s still unnerving enough to make me think HACKED! I’VE BEEN HACKED. It’s amazing how much information my brain can process between the reading of the subject line, the clicking of the “open email” icon, and the actually display of the text. A lot. I was already thinking about what I had to do to change my SSN.
But, as has always been the case in previous emails, the Card Company erred on the side of caution and merely flagged me because of what its algorithms deduced was a very out of character purchase.
Not an out of town purchase, by the way. In fact, although I actually am traveling out of town beginning tomorrow, the Card Company had already emailed to tell me they were expecting out of town charges between specific dates. They knew of my travel arrangements because I charged my airline tickets on the card and not, to my knowledge, that they have an agent (electronic or otherwise) checking my calendar. If you’re keeping score, the Card Company knew when and where I was going, and wished me a pleasant trip well before I notified even my closest friends. I may be in a relationship!?!
The in-town “suspicious” purchase that was flagged and that temporarily shut down my credit card was the unusual purchase of $50 in gift cards at Graeter’s Ice Cream. I can only guess what such an innocuous purchase as ice cream related merch signaled when it hit my account. Did they think it was a cry for help? Is this what thieves are buying? My best guess is that the number one flag was that 50 bucks was fairly high amount for me to spend on a product that wasn’t liquor-oriented, my normal social purchase. I guarantee that if somehow I could have bought $50 worth of beer instead of gift cards at Graeter’s, my Card Company wouldn’t have noticed.
Anyway, the email came within 20 minutes after I bought the ice cream gift cards. One one hand, I’m glad to know that the Card Company is monitoring and aware of me and my purchases because it’s easier to stop a breach after 20 minutes than to clean it up hours or even days after a thieves have had their way with my credit. On the other hand, it’s a bit creepy to know the Card Company is monitoring and aware of me and my purchases because they still have an incomplete and possibly inaccurate perception of what I’m doing and this incomplete picture could unnecessarily shut down my card, maybe at at time when I really have an emergency. The Ice Cream Shutdown of 2017 is a reminder we’re still in the baby stages of what technology can do for us and to us. And, if I’m going to use a credit card, I have to be ready for the Card Company to be all up in my business.