A note from Charlie – Feb. 5

February 5th, 2015 Charlie Funk
Charlie Funk

It was time for vacation! My wife, Connie, and I had planned to take the week after New Year’s off and visit a warmer climate. With a horrible weather forecast for the Midwest, it seemed like it was going to be the perfect week for vacation.

Things did not get off to a smooth start. When we arrived at our destination, we went to a local grocery store to stock our refrigerator for the week. I was surprised to find that my debit card was refused. Subsequent attempts at two restaurants brought the same result. Because I carry two other credit cards, I used these cards and made our purchases without further incident. I contacted the bank and found out that our fraud monitoring software had ascertained that the transactions were highly suspect given my typical card activity, and in an abundance of caution, my card was temporarily restricted. Of course, it did not take long to get the debit card reinstated and I used it many times during the rest of the week.

Banks, in general, guarantee debit card transactions once the merchant receives acceptance of the transaction. From that point forward, there is no risk to the consumer. But banks also want to protect their customer and minimize losses due to fraud. In 2015, there is much more fraud in “debit/credit card land” than in prior years. Financial institutions are becoming more vigilant and cautious to fraud than ever before.

The moral of the story? Before you leave on vacation, it’s a smart idea to call the bank and provide notice you will be gone and that you want to make sure your debit card remains active. This includes providing current contact information, including your cell phone number, so if questionable activity is detected they will be able to reach you and confirm if it is a legitimate transaction made by you. Consider the potential dilemma created if you needed cash after hours while on a trip and your card was denied for the (good) reasons mine was denied. In a world of increased focus on cyber-security, this is one small ounce of prevention you can take that could very possibly provide far more than a pound of cure!

Charlie Funk

About the author

Charlie Funk is President and CEO of MidWestOne Bank. He works with the MidWestOne team to oversee the daily operation of the bank.

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