Visa's Idiotic Security Policy

Last modified on May 24th, 2008

Ever since I was about 18 years of age, I have had a credit card. The main reason, at least at first, was simply to build up a credit rating in case I ever needed a loan (which I ended up requiring when I went to university). Nowadays, I use my visa primarily for work expenses, since I tend to do a lot of traveling with my job.

To that end, I probably spend close to $30,000 on my visa a year, a good portion of which comes from plane rides and hotel rooms when I’m on the road. I have no idea what my credit limit is on my visa, but last time I checked (which was a few years ago), there was enough there to buy a small car with I believe. In fact, I generally have to place a call once a year to get them to lower the credit limit on it, since they like to jack it up without telling me (hoping of course that I’ll max it out one day and they’ll nail me on the interest).

In the old days, the only time I’d get a security flag on my card is when I bought something really expensive in an electronics store. An example of this was my digital SLR I first bought a few years ago. But over the last few years, then have been starting to flag my card for what I think are rather ridiculous purchases.

When they used to do it, they would just leave my card active but ask me to call in and explain my purchase. Then, they started deactivating it, but would call my cell phone and try to sort it out in short order. The last few times though they have not only deactivated my credit card, but also haven’t even given me a courtesy call to let me know that it was declined.

I woke up this morning with an email saying one of my pre-authorized visa transactions was declined and my account was disabled. Of course, I called down to Royal Bank Visa’s fraud department, and sure enough, they had once again disabled my card. The culprit? A $99 transaction I made buying something on the internet. Once again, they didn’t even give me a head’s up that this had occurred.

I have complained about their policy time and time again, but each time I get some sympathetic rhetoric from the guys in the security department which basically amounts to a polite “fuck off.” It’s one thing when it happens when I’m in Vancouver (it’s a major pain in the ass, and I hate that I have to deal with it), but it’s nearly crippling when it happens when I’m traveling for work. For example, they deactivated my card in Tokyo last time I was there and, considering my Interact card wouldn’t work on their systems, basically left me without any sort of funds whatsoever.

I am going to be switching credit cards shortly. I am not certain if that will make things better or worse in the long run, but I’m so fed up with Royal Bank’s policies in this area that I just have to make a change. Does this happen to any of you guys, or is it just me?

7 responses to “Visa's Idiotic Security Policy”

  1. S says:

    Same thing is happening with us with Mastercard. I bought a train ticket to travel from Montreal to Ottawa and somehow they found that suspicious. I didn’t notice that my card was de-activated until 2 days before I was taking another trip leaving me somewhat stranded from my trip. Major pain in the …

  2. This happens with me on Master Card once a month.

    This morning I called to have it reactivated and they keep telling me there is nothing they can do. It is very frustrating.

  3. Miranda says:

    Not just you, and not just Royal Bank!

    My CIBC Visa and Reilly’s TD Visa both have the same thing happen on a fairly regular basis. In fact, Reilly went to use his card yesterday before he caught his flight to discover it had been cut off again, but didn’t have time to call in to complain. We find it always happens when we travel because we don’t use the cards much and then all of a sudden start using them all over the place.

    It doesn’t help to call in advance either – I’ve tried calling to let them know that they were going to see weird charges from out of country etc. and it didn’t help.

    This time because of all the weird travel – Cuba, Toronto, back in Vancouver a few days later, and then back to TO, and now back to Cuba for Reilly – he knew it was going to get shut down and was sure to have money in other places so he wouldn’t have to rely on it.

    I, however, do agree that it is pretty ridiculous that you can pretty much bank on having your card shut off everytime you use it for things credit cards are supposed to be best for – internet purchases and travel.

    Go figure!

  4. Tom says:

    Two things. I’ve heard from people who travel a lot and they say its best to phone in first and let them know you will be in a foreign country. Everyone that’s told me this says it works well. (Doesn’t address the small purchase senario of 99 bucks though). And Second Duane, if I was in the states as much as you, I’d definitely get a American Express card for travelling down there. I had one in my sales days and the only problem was it wasn’t recognized in Canada very much, but I think that’s all changed. Besides, it never hurts to have a backup card. My 2 cents.

  5. bren says:

    D, i spend about as much as you a year and with my scotia visa have never had a problem. I have gone to Ont, the states, Cali, never had a problem. Only once did they call me, and asked if I was currently buying concert tickets over the phone. I stated ‘no’ and they de-activated it. It did take a few weeks, and I had to work out late charges etc, but eventually the total $6G that some dude put on my card buying concert tickets was totally wiped clean. they actually took care of me really well. Of course that could be a bad thing, they may not even care over at scotia, but they did pay it all back, got a new card in the mail within a few days, and everything was right as rain. the only thing that bother me was until i received and signed the affidavit, i was getting charged on the deactivated account for late fees. they assured me that these would never show on a credit check. this was a lie and when I went to buy my second house, my mortgage broker said that it was visible. so i had to clear it all up again.

  6. Gregg says:

    I have a credit union card, and iTravel2000 card through MBNA. Both are MasterCard, and I’ve never had anything like that with either card.

    One thing, if you’re going to change cards, keep the current one active even if you never use it again. Having a high credit rating card with little to nothing on it that you have had for years greatly helps your credit rating, even if you never use it. Closing it down does nothing but hurt your rating.

  7. Less then a month later and my card has been deactivated again for my convenience (sigh). Is there anything that can be done to end this idiotic policy?

    Just a note I have never had it denied for travel or online purchases. Every time it is for a Tim Horton’s coffee. I guess there is a big ring of credit card thieves racking up a coffee bill somewhere.

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