Why Your Bank Thinks Someone Stole Your Credit Card

outside a Citigroup Inc. Citibank branch in New York, U.S.,  Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg
Erin Marquis of AOL Autos is a resident of Detroit, and she regularly fills up her car's tank at gas stations in the Motor City. On multiple occasions, the simple act of getting gas in her hometown has led to her debit card being frozen by her credit union, which suspected that someone had stolen her card.

After the third time this happened, she called up the credit union and asked them to knock it off.

"I finally told them if my card is stolen in Detroit, I'd call them, but they should stop blocking my card every time I paid for something in a new part of the city," she says.
Credit card issuers regularly issue fraud alerts and freeze accounts when they suspect that someone has stolen your credit card or card number. And while those systems regularly catch fraudsters before they can do too much damage, they also occasionally trip up law-abiding cardholders, who are left to wonder why their attempt to buy a TV, or just 10 gallons of regular, has sent their bank into panic mode.

Credit card banks are understandably reluctant to disclose the precise criteria they use to detect fraud, but we were able to find out what sorts of purchases tend to set off your bank's alarm bells. Here are a few of the warning signs they look for.

Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.

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James Bond

I paid for a rental car while on my first vacation from work in three years , next thing I know I'm stranded in the subzero arctic wasteland of Minnesota with no way to access my money, and frostbite. ACCOUNT CLOSED WHEN I GET BACK!!!

December 16 2013 at 9:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was so happy when my bank's fraud dept called me and told me that someone made two transactions $2.50 each , but they blocked them when the person tried to charge $96 at Walmart in Texas. I'm in Alabama and HAPPY. Of course the bank immediately changed my number , sent me a replacement card. But I am a lot reluctant to use the debit/ credit card now. I keep wondering How and where did someone steal my number from. I am so leery.

April 30 2013 at 11:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
SANDY 10842

I appreciate the "red flag" on my MC account. While in Alaska on vaca my husband charged an 8,000$ jewelry purchase( they blocked this chg. till we spoke to a rep.Took only minutes
They blocked a THAILAND DATING SERVICE..roflmao(we're in our 70's)..live in Texas. We all had a good laugh over this one!
I don't mind "big brother", at all!

April 30 2013 at 10:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Stockholders will welcome this increased due diligence. Fraud reduction should result in increased profits. Good for stockholders. It\'s their money anyway.

April 27 2013 at 11:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I understand the reasoning from the banks but sometimes they are way out of line. I deposited over $1,000.00 in cash with BOA and tried to use it later and the card was rejected. When I called they said even if the money deposited was cash, it would not be posted until 12 midnight. That was 15 hours after the deposit. I called the supervisor and told her that I had a receipt in hand and it said nothing about being posted until 12 midnight but carried a deposit time of 9:39A.M. and if I could not have access to the amount needed I would file a suit. All of the sudden the amount needed was accessible. Your BOA and other card companies are not supposed to have hold except when you have checks to clear.

April 27 2013 at 12:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

my card was block after i got a 99 cents app not one time but 3 times hsbc was mad as hell when i went to staples to get stuff i need and could not

April 26 2013 at 11:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

We have started calling the bank when we go on vacation to Hawaii, because if we don\'t, they will decline purchases after the first few days.

April 26 2013 at 10:49 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

May I have an interpreter please

April 26 2013 at 9:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don\'t have a problem with this at all. I am always happy when my cc company calls and asks, \'did you buy so and so for such and such on this day?\" I was particularly happy the day they called and asked if I had been trying to buy gift cards online....and I hadn\'t. But someone had tried a dozen times, to the tune of $350, that my cc did not let go through. And when I recently traveled out of state, which I..basically...never do, I called in advance to notify them. Worked great.

April 26 2013 at 8:01 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to charpist5's comment

Except in this case there is no phone call, the bank just freezes the account and the person is stranded with a cancelled card. You might have a problem with it if your are driving on a near empty tank with children in the car and you need to get home before dark.

April 26 2013 at 10:07 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

I don\'t have a credit card but do have a debit card. Everytime I need to make a large purchase ($500+), I must notify my bank in advance or they block the charge. Hell, this is MY money, not the bank\'s and I resent this. Call me if you have a question. You have my phone number. I\'m thinking about carrying cash instead.

April 26 2013 at 5:27 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to georgettec28's comment

It is spelled out in plain English the amount you are able to withdraw with a debit card. And you sign the agreement. It is your money, and you give it to the bank for safekeeping, and that is what it means to keep it safe. If you are planning a large purchase, then go cash a check.

April 26 2013 at 10:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply