Over the Thanksgiving weekend, US consumers were shopping. According to estimates, people were “full steam ahead” with their holiday purchases. While this is good news for retailers, it also means that scammers are out looking to use stolen credit card numbers to purchase big-ticket items. It’s understandable that credit card companies are on high alert for charges outside normal spending trends to catch thieves.
However, it also means you’re more likely to trigger a fraud alert when shopping for an iPad, television or gaming console. Even more so if you’re using a card you don’t use very often (which may be the case if you received an offer for bonus points for the holiday season.).
I found a good Black Friday deal on an iPad from Best Buy. I used Cashback Monitor to find the best shopping portal and activated my AMEX Offer for an extra 1X Membership Rewards point for Best Buy purchases. I used our American Express Blue Business Plus card which earns 2X points for all purchases (so I’d get 3X points from Best Buy.)
When I placed the order online, a box popped up saying AMEX SafeKey. It looked similar to the popup you’ll get from “Verified by Visa” or “Mastercard Identity Check.” However, for this purchase, I received a message I’d never seen before. AMEX was asking me for a code that they sent to my phone and/or email account to verify my identity.
If you have push notifications set up on your phone, they can also use that to verify the purchase.
I entered the code from my phone and AMEX sent me back to the Best Buy website to complete the purchase.
While it was a new experience, I was happier to have a bank verify my purchase in this manner instead of denying the purchase and then sending me a message asking if it was me. If that happens, I usually have to go through the whole process again and hope the charge will go through the second time without triggering a fraud alert shutting down my card until I get to call the bank.
I never had a purchase flagged by AMEX SmartKey for potential fraud. However, I could see how buying an iPad from Best Buy on a card we don’t typically use for that type of purchase would raise some red flags. It was much easier to enter a code from a text message to verify my identity than it is to call in and speak to a fraud department representative.
For this instance, I’m giving the AMEX fraud prevention team a thumbs up!
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