The Bank of America and other banks I'm sure have a system where they
alert you when a charge is made to your credit or debit card without
the card being presented, like when you buy something online or pay a
bill on the phone, or by mail.
The purpose is, for most people, to know when a charge is made that
they didn't cause, a fraudulent charge, a theft.
It's important to know if someone is stealing money from your account.
It's not nearly as important to be reminded of something you did
within the last hour or 48 hours and you know you did.
Imagine my surprise when I learned today that they don't always notify
you. It depends on "how the merchant presents himself". If he
presents himself as having been paid online, by phone, or by mail, an
alert is emailed (or texted) to the owner of the bank account.
If he presents himself as a store, a place one can go to in person,
and pay at the cashier, presenting the physical card, then they don't
alert you, because after all, you were there and you already know
about it. BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE A STORE to present yourself as a
I learned this only by accident today. Last Thursday night I bought
three things, a used DVD for 7 dollars and a bathroom rack for $49.50
from separate Amazon-related dealers, but not sold or shipped by
Amazon. And a $20 remote control for my TV, on Ebay.
For another reason, a story in itself, I got no confirmations of
purchase and no receipts. Sunday, I checked on Amazon and both items
had already shipped!****
Without my paying them, it seemed!!! Amazing.
But I checked on the bank webpage and they had been paid. But I got no
I got the DVD on Saturday, the remote on Monday, and the
rack on Tuesday.
So I complained on Sunday. She filed a report. Today a nice man
called and he explained that if a store sent in a charge, they didn't
alert me, and afaict apparently any place can pretend to be a store.
He agreed with that.
But what about Ebay. Just last October, I got an alert when I charge
$20 to Paypal, to pay ebay. So Paypal is not a store. Why didn't I
get an alert this time. He said that when I pay Paypal, I'm not
really paying them, they're just an intermediate, and I'm paying the
actual vendor, and if he says he's a store, he's a store, even afaict
if his address is a secret and no customer has ever been there.
I told him there was a big hole in his procedure and that they give
the impression they will notify customers of every online purchase and
they will eventually be sued big time when someone loses money. He
said he'd put a report in to... I forget what he called them, or it.
So there you go.
And what good is it to be notified, alerted, if you can't count on
always being notified? You can bet your bottom dollar that thieves
will pretend to be stores. So only the honest places are causing me
to be notified. I don't need these emails because if I ever needed
one, better evidence would be my bank's statement or an image of my
online bank statement. I've been wasting my time reading these
alerts and changing the subject line to say exactly what they are for.