Beware of gas stations and hardware stores

I just finished reading Ken Hanley’s article in Computer World Canada about his Amex experience (July 13, page 13), and felt that I had to mention something about my Citibank experiences. Not only does Citibank put your picture on the front of your credit card and your signature embedded into the plastic on the front of the card (as well as signed on the back), their “automatic” flagging of credit cards makes Amex look negligent (or makes Citibank look totally anal).

There are actually two interesting stories, the last one being a less than pleasant experience. The first incident was when my wife decided to take her mother on a “shopping spree” while I took the kids to run some errands. My wife and I have the same credit card number. Upon my return home we had an urgent message from Citibank for us to call them back. After waiting about 20 minutes we eventually spoke with a person who said that our “credit card spending was flagged.” She went on to say that we had a large number of transactions over the last two hours. She went on to list our spending location: Aquarium Warehouse, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, Braemar, KFC, Laura Secord and Tim Horton’s. None of the transactions were over $100 and I had no idea that KFC and the Aquarium Warehouse would be considered locations for the “criminal element”.

The most recent incident was far less pleasing. After getting my car filled with gas, then stopping at the hardware store I was called at home by Citibank. I was told that going to an automatic gas pump and a hardware store one after the other was a sign of a “stolen” card. The Citibank person apologized for that call. One week later I was at Lansing buying some paint, when my credit card was rejected at the register. I had to call Citibank from the hardware store (the clerk wouldn’t give back my card even though it had my picture on the front). During my 20 minute wait on the phone (must be a standard waiting period), it suddenly occurred to me that I had just come from a gas station!

Needles to say, I try to avoid hardware stores after filling up my car with gas. Not to mention my new fear of the scary KFC and Laura Secord criminals.

Gary Carlos

Etobicoke, Ont.