Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fun with credit cards

Most of you know that I recently relocated to the Albany area and have since bought a house. When you buy a house, you sometimes need to buy stuff to go in it. You might buy this stuff in a short period of time. Well, HSBC doesn't get that.

Today I got an e-mail from a merchant saying that my card had been declined. I'm surprised because I pay my bill in full each month and keep a careful eye on things. I call up HSBC and they tell me that the computer flagged my activity as suspicious. I tell them that I recently moved into a house and that everything is ok. The woman starts to verify my identity with the usual questions like my mother's maiden name, my social security number, etc. Then she tells me that she's going to ask me some questions I might not have heard before. She asked me about previous addresses and then goes into a multiple choice session. She reads off a few things like four different cars or four different addresses in Ithaca. I hadn't owned any of the cars she described, but had lived at one of the addresses. She asked me if I knew a Dolores ---- or a Don ----. Now Don sounds like me dad's name, but I said no. She then tells me that I failed the on-phone verification. She said they get this information from public sources and that, since I failed, I need to mail in identification. My card is on hold until then. Unfortunately, I need to mail in identification that has my current address on it like my driver's license or two utility bills. I tell her that I just moved so I don't have that. She hems and haws, but I can tell that I'm up shit's creek. I politely lay into her telling her that this process is bullshit and that I'm not responsible for public information about me that might not be correct. I also tell her that it's not suspicious activity for a new homeowner to buy stuff. Tough titties is a paraphrase of her response.

I told her that I was pissed off enough to close my account and take my business elsewhere. She fakes some concern, but they don't make any money on me because I don't carry a balance so they won't be sad to see me go.

I try to check my online account, but they've shut that access off as well. Basically, I lost all access to my account so I can't tell if they got my payment or if purchases from yesterday cleared. They tell me that for security reasons they can't share that. Uh...yeah. Fuck you too.

I understand that they need to do this stuff to protect me and them from fradulent activity, but they didn't call me to question any of the activity; I had to find out from a merchant. They also quizzed me on information that I didn't generate. They should have asked me stuff like my elementary school, my first pet or shit like that. They can ask these questions when I first sign up and then save them for this sort of occasion. It's not my fault I've never owned a Ford Econoline Van. Sheee-it.

My plan going forward is to try to get online access restored so that I can keep an eye on the account. I'll pay it off in full and then write a letter to close it. I'll rip them a new one in the letter as well because they need to know this shit isn't cool. I'll send a copy of the letter to some higher-ups at HSBC and maybe New York's attorney general. I'm obviously not going to take any legal action, but people should know that this ain't cool.

You always want to write a letter to close a credit card account and you should write "Please notify the credit reporting agencies that the account is closed at the request of the cardholder." Otherwise, your credit will get dinged because the bank closed the account.

This whole situation is super weak and put me in a bad mood for most of today. I'll resolve it without too much trouble since I have a backup credit card. I'm also going to transition to exclusively using my debit card. If I don't have the cash for something, then I don't buy it. It's a pretty simple concept and I need to get back to it. I don't need to worry about building credit because I have a mortgage now. I'll keep my other credit card for emergencies, but that's it. I won't get points, but those aren't necessarily a good deal anyhow.


squeezles said...

Just catching up on your blog...I always forget to flip over for a read.

It's complete BS to ping you on details that you have not provided. How do they know their public records are correct or that they have the right person? It's confusing enough when my bank always asks things like "how many accounts do you have with us?" and I'm always "does a home loan count as an account?" "if I'm a cardholder on someone else's credit card are you counting that?" (apparently they do when I said no and got this wrong).

Jeremy said...

What I should have done was to tell them what I know and then they can decide if that answers their questions.

Of course, how is quizzing me on public knowledge going to prove my identity? Shouldn't they ask questions that only I would know?