Normally, I’m in the habit of just tossing the credit card terms & conditions in the recycling pile, but this time, I decided to read the letter that my Discover Business Card sent to me regarding changes to the account. One particular paragraph caught my attention, and it’s something you should really pay attention to as well:
We are adding a provision stating that if your Account number and/or Card expiration date changes and our records indicate you have automatic billing established with a merchant, we will attempt to provide your new Account information to that merchant. To ensure uninterrupted billing, we recommend you verify the merchant has your new Account information on file. You must contact the merchant directly if you do not want to continue automatic billing.
All I can say is WOW. They’re basically saying that if they issue a new card number or it expires, they’ll give out the new number to any merchant who is automatically billing my account. It might sound like a nice feature to you, but this adds a level of complexity when fighting fraudulent charges.
How many of you have gotten repeated fraudulent charges on your card which forced you to request a new card number? I have. Twice. And in those instances there’s no way to “contact the merchant directly” to cancel the billing because it’s a fraud. But now the credit card company has decided to add the feature to notify these merchants of your new number so they can keep charging you. And I can assure you the credit card company doesn’t have flags in their system to catch the bad guys before they can bill your card. Just look through the Consumerist archives for dozens of examples.
And I don’t think this is just a “feature” with Discover. I’m sure all of the major card companies are adding or have already added this feature to their terms & conditions. So use this as a reason to read over your card’s T&C to find out how they’ll protect, or not protect, you as a consumer and card holder.
With that, though, I’ll still keep using credit cards because they’re convenient and safer that debit cards or carrying cash. But now I have one more reason to be vigilant.