Did you know that most banks now put a hold on your personal or business debit or credit card if you purchase something from outside of the U.S.? This is a new measure for curbing unauthorized payments.
I had this happen the other day. I purchased an eBook from MobiPocket to read on my Smartphone. Little did I know that:
a) MobiPocket is a French company, and
b) My bank puts the card on hold immediately after purchasing outside the U.S.
This is actually a big problem when you think about it. If you purchase a lot from the Internet, like I do (for both personal and business), there’s almost no way of knowing if the site is in the U.S. or overseas. In fact, a lot of overseas companies have web sites that are hosted in the U.S.
Granted, this seems like a good security measure, but the other part of the problem is that the bank is not required to contact you if they decide to put a hold on it.
I only found this out when trying to purchase groceries yesterday and my personal debit card wasn’t accepted. I thought it strange, so I tried the ATM at the grocery store to get cash for my purchase and the card was not accepted there, either. I paid using an alternate means and called my bank when I got home.
This is what they told me. I asked them several questions. First, about business cards. They said the same rules apply for business accounts. If you do business internationally like we do, this can turn into a huge nightmare.
I asked if they kept a list of “trusted” sites that I could add several sites to where I purchase frequently (much like the list of trusted sites that Internet Explorer keeps). They said no.
I told the lady on the phone that this seemed a bit off because there’s no way to know if a web site accepts payments outside the U.S. She said, thoughtfully, “Hmmm..you’re right.”
So, in essence — it’s up to you, the consumer, to do some additional research about the web site you are attempting to purchase from. Either that, or just stick with Amazon.com, I guess.
I can see where they are attempting to protect the consumer, but this seems more like one of those board room decisions by CEOs and CIOs who have no clue about real world scenarios.