Credit card companies can improve the user experience and fight fraud better by making simple adjustments to the payment apps they’ve already developed.

American Express Agony

I don’t know about you, but American Express calls me way too often. I typically hear from them about potential theft once a week, although there have been plenty of times where they’ve called me each and every day for weeks at a time.

Maybe I wouldn’t mind their vigilant efforts to protect me so much if they were a little more sensible about how they detected credit card fraud.

Just this week, American Express called when I made a purchase over $100. They informed me that they were skeptical because I hadn’t made such a big purchase “in a while,” when in reality, I had bought a similarly priced item two days before.

Then, I called their travel booking department to request a hotel room, which they booked. A couple of days later, AmEx called once again, this time to alert me to the latest attempt on my identity: the hotel was trying to charge me for the reservation that AmEx had booked.

I don’t think AmEx is trying to waste my time with these incessant calls and questions, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re incredibly bothersome. What’s more, it can’t be efficient on their end — they spend hours on the phone with their clients, asking to verify charges that they made in the first place.

Shouldn’t there be a way for American Express to ask me for verification or approval with a simple smartphone notification?

Much Needed Technology

I’ve already remarked that banks and credit card companies have a tendency to fall behind the times. The big companies all have mobile apps, digital tools that their clients are finding more and more useful.

Instead of spending hours calling every client who made a unique purchase, credit card companies should be spending that time adding features to their apps that reduce or eliminate chances for fraud to ever occur, as well as ones that minimize the damage when it does.

Although American Express claims to possess various ways of maintaining customer privacy and security, including pre–purchase verification, account monitoring, and irregular activity alerts, most of these services are not default.

Users are required to sign up to receive alerts, texts messages, emails, or notifications instead of being enrolled right from the start, and push notifications aren’t an option at all.

American Express also lists a variety of ways customers can keep themselves safe from security breaches, but it’s the company that should be doing more to decrease the possibility of fraud.

They might, for example, take a page from the Europeans’ book — on that side of the pond, credit cards have PINs, which card owners must enter when making a purchase. These PINs aren’t written anywhere, which provides for a more secure purchasing experience.

In the upcoming years, every industry will advance its technological offerings. It should be a priority for every financial institution to create interfaces that allow clients to validate purchases on their phone with the click of a button. Hopefully, a measure like that will make those dreaded phone calls a thing of the past.