There’s fraud prevention, and there’s sheer stupidity. Guess which one my bank’s going with?

I spent some money at the weekend. I bought some food in the same supermarket I always buy food. I got some diesel in the same petrol station I always get diesel from. I got some cash from the same cash machine I always get cash from. And because of this, my bank put a fraud prevention hold on the same debit card it always puts a fraud prevention hold on.

I understand the value of fraud prevention, but my bank puts a stop on my card roughly twice a month – and the first sign anything’s gone wrong isn’t the phone call from the bank, but the refusal of your debit card. It’s embarrassing, inconvenient and utterly ridiculous, and apparently there isn’t a single thing I can do about it.

Is anyone else getting annoyed by overzealous card protection systems, or is this just another part of the Giant Global Conspiracy To Piss Me Off?

15 thoughts on “There’s fraud prevention, and there’s sheer stupidity. Guess which one my bank’s going with?

  1. mupwangle says:

    I’ve had fraud prevention on my card once and Ruth once (both RBS) in a period of about 5 years. Once was when I was out of the country and someone tried using a clone of Ruth’s up North and they couldn’t get hold of her and the other was when I bought a t-shirt in an online shop in america. Mind you, I’ve been with another bank for a year now, so I can’t say if they got worse.

  2. Squander Two says:

    Vic & I have both been amazed by just how good First Direct’s fraud prevention is. I went to New York, Atlanta, and Chicago without telling them, using my card in all three. Not a single problem. But twice now they’ve rung me to say “This transaction going through just now — that’s not you, is it?” and they’ve been right. And they’re inoccuous transactions: buying cheap stuff of the Web, something I do constantly. Vic had the same experience: someone used her card to buy a coach ticket, and the bank flagged it immediately. They must have some seriously impressive algorithms running.

  3. Squander Two says:

    I was going to post a really funny comment there about RBS, but then decided against it what with working for them and all. But honestly, see if I had no integrity, you’d all be killing yourselves laughing right now.

  4. Gary says:

    Looks like it’s just me, then :) Maybe it’s because my finances are chaotic, so on the rare occasions I have any cash to spend they assume something dodgy’s going on.

  5. Hunnymonster says:

    It’s only happened to me twice… once I was on holiday and had taken the bank’s advice and taken one of their credit cards abroad… only to discover that mine was part of a faulty batch that only worked in the UK… they magicked up some emergency cash within 3 hours (which I’ve still not seen the charge for and this is nearly 20 years on) and a new working card by motorcycle courier the next day…

    The other time I was in Singapore (on a work trip) and I got a phone call to ask me if I was in Singapore (GSM roaming rate-tastic) because my card had been used to buy petrol in the UK just as I had also bought something in Singapore. I explained to them this was their stupid fault for giving all card holders the same card number and not expecting them to travel separately occasionally – oh and by the way I’m in Singapore and paying £2/minute for this incoming call…. I got £30 back for that too.

    No actual stops/fraud preventions though…

  6. Heather says:

    I got this occasionally my first few years in Britain, when the only “account” my bank permitted me to have was the card cash account they normally give to 16-18 year olds as a starter account. Even after two years, they refused to upgrade it to a regular current account for reasons they refused to discuss with me (read: they’re sexist bigots.) I was a married adult career professional trying to use my money for things like furniture and travel, and yet my account was the sort meant to be used for pocket money. So my card would be denied on a regular basis.

    The only way I got a regular current account, after over two years of legal residence on a managerial salary, was by going to my MP and getting him to raise hell with my bank. Funnily enough, after he got on the phone the bank sent me the current account paperwork for my signature within four days.

  7. Squander Two says:

    After that treatment, why on Earth did you want an account with them? Why not a different bank?

  8. Gary says:

    I’ve had similar experiences, in my case because my credit rating is worse than Greece’s. And in those circumstances you have to put up with the shite because there’s no alternative.

    Still, it’s not as if we’d let these loons run anything important, like the entire global economy.

  9. Squander Two says:

    To be fair, we certainly do not let retail banks run anyone’s economy. You’d be surprised at how little even the retail and trading arms of the same bank have to do with each other.

  10. Gary says:

    You mean, the manager of RBS in Bearsden doesn’t have her hand on the levers of global capitalism? :)

  11. Heather says:

    Just if I can share one more anecdote about this.

    At the time I was in a daily battle to get a basic banking account, I was working for a community regeneration agency. One of the services they offered was that if you had never had a bank account – because you had spent your life “off radar” and cash only – they would set up a current account for you at the local credit union. The point of this service was that if you had a bank account, it would be easier for you to get your first ever job. However, to enjoy this privilege you had to live in a specific area defined by the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation and mapped by postcode to the street and sometimes to the individual house. I did not reside in this area.

    So, every day I was working to help people receive an easy service which I was having to fight for, unsuccessfully, for myself.

  12. Gary says:

    That’s ridiculous.

    Some of the postcode deprivation stuff is real broad-brush stuff too – when I lived in Queen Margaret Drive in Glasgow (just round the corner for the BBC), we didn’t have to pay stamp duty on our flat due to the terrible deprivation. Our bit was all buy to let landlords and young working couples.

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