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Citibank Suspects High-Risk Activity in My Credit Card Account

This article was written by in Credit. 16 comments.

As I logged into CitiBank’s website today to check my recent activity and compare transactions against what I’ve entered in Quicken, I was greeted by a harrowing message, informing me that my account may be at risk for unauthorized use. They have restricted my online access, and I cannot view my recent activity or past statements. Citi has apparently issued a new credit card with a new number, which I should receive shortly.

I used my credit card today to pay for lunch and the transaction was not refused, so it seems that the block must have been placed later this afternoon.

I’m wondering what legitimate activity I might have had lately that would have triggered a review. It’s possible my traveling might have been a red flag. I’ve used the credit card at home, San Francisco, San Diego, Manhattan, and Queens within the last month.

While I’m happy that Citi is evaluating my transactions for possible fraud, and certainly if there has been unauthorized use, I will now be required to contact my utilities and present my new credit card number once I receive it.

Updated May 26, 2009 and originally published May 5, 2008. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar dePriest

I went through the same thing with Chase, except my card was refused. I called Chase and got things straightened out, and I let the lady I was speaking with know I was glad they had flagged my account. I had been out of town spending quite a bit more money than usual on my card, and I do feel better knowing Chase gets suspicious about such things. It would have been nice, however, if they had let me know before my card was rejected that there was a problem. Fortunately, it was refused at a self-pay gas pump so there were no witnesses!

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avatar Jim

You can call the credit card company and put a note on your file regarding any upcoming travel plans so they are aware that your spending pattern is going to be changing on purpose.

It helps avoid an out-of-town/on-the-road lock-out of your credit card.

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avatar Mrs. Micah

I tend to call if I’m going to be going away for a period…especially if it’s bicoastal. Have you called them about it yet?

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avatar Dan Isaacs

I had the same problem when i was travelling in Europe. They refused my card when it was scanned at the hotel. Took a $40 phone call back to the US to clear it up.

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avatar Lazy Man

Man, that sounds like a pain in the butt. Did they have any proof of anyone trying any unauthorized transactions or did they just suspect that some might happen? If it’s the former, I’d be cool with the extra work. If it’s the later, I would want them to go update all my utilities ;-)

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avatar BillyOceansEleven

I had Citi flag my account last week after purchasing a bunch of gift cards at Kroger as part of their stimulus package promotion. Thankfully the only inconvenience was that I had to sit through an automated phone call and confirm my last five charges.

Chase did this a while back to me as well, except they wouldn’t let the charge go through. I had to call customer service while I was at the store to have them authorize the payment.

Honestly I don’t have a lot of patience for this crap. One of the benefits of a credit card is limited/no responsibility for unauthorized charges. Remember that the bank is just worried about protecting themselves, not you the cardholder.

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avatar Andrea

I seem to run into that problem every time I shop at TJMaxx or Marshalls, which is generally once every 6 months or so. So it’s gotten to the point where I pick the card that is closest to the expiration date and use that one. It’s always nice to know that they are watching keeping a close eye for fraud.

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avatar Toby

Regarding having to contact your utilities: I maintain more than on credit card. One is for utilities only, one is for online purchases (I use a citicard for this because they allow you to create virtual account numbers on the fly), and one is my card for daily use. I’ve had my CC number compromised twice in my life. Once I am pretty sure it was skimmed at a restaurant and once it was stolen from an online site. Having more than one card means that I am not scrambling to change debit accounts with my utilities and such when something like this happens.

P.S. I also do this with my checking account. I have one that gets the bulk of my paycheck and is used for mortgage and bill payment. Another gets a few hundred dollars and is used for monthly walking around money. I carry the atm/debit card for the latter one only. The card for the former account is locked in a safe at home. This way if my card is lost or stolen I do not have to worry about being late with my mortgage payment.

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avatar Barb

My Citibank card was also flagged recently, and for no apparent reason; I hadn’t done much traveling. I’m still not sure what caused it, and I’m a bit miffed that as far as I can tell, Citibank did not notify me; I only found out when I went online to check my balance. Between being flagged and getting the new card, I wasn’t sure whether various automatic payments were getting made, and the whole process was extremely frustrating.

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avatar Tim

did you get a pop up window with the message? did you go to the citi website through a link in an email? if so, i’d be suspect of the message. definitely call a good number for citi to find out.

seems like blocks are being triggered a lot lately. my account with a different credit card company was blocked as well. pissed me off since i didn’t get an email or telephone call notifying me of the block, so when i tried to use it, it was denied. then i had to call and of course wait forever. i love when cc companies say that they block for your security, when if fact it is for their security not ours. with zero liability, it does me no good to have my card blocked for high usage, it just embarrasses and pisses me off that i am inconvenienced. of course, i did not notify the company that i would be heavily using the card, which i normally do. so of course it is my fault and they are only doing it for my protection.

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avatar Penelope Pince

I had something like this happen several years ago with my Bank of America credit card.

They flagged my account – I can’t remember if they called me, if I got an email alert or an alert on my online banking – but I called them and they told me someone in England (I was in California) had tried to use my credit card to purchase tents or camping supplies.

They asked me if I had made the charge, I said no, so they denied it, canceled my card and issued me a new one. What’s scary is I have no idea how someone in England had gotten my CC info. I had only placed a handful of online orders and never from Britain. I hadn’t been in contact with anyone from Britain, so it was weird and I’m glad the bank caught it and notified me.

It can be a pain, but it does save a lot of trouble because you have to go through a whole process to dispute unauthorized charges.

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avatar jim

Citibank seems pretty careful about suspicious charges. I use them regularly for my card and I probably get calls from them a couple times a year. The travel may be what caused them concern.


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avatar Ada

Citi did this exact same thing to me. When I called they told me that a vendor (whom they wouldn’t specify) had had their database breached. It had nothing to do with my use of the card (traveling, etc.).

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avatar dePriest

I’ll be sure to let Chase (and any other company I may use a card from) I’m leaving town next time. That thought hadn’t crossed my mind until reading here.

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avatar Greed

I just read That CITI bank is going to raise there credit card rates. at least 3% points. I have had my card for about 4 years now.. never late, always more then Min. If they raise my rates I just won’t pay them, the hell with it, I will have the govt. bail me out….Think of this. If 90% of all card holders say No to raising the rates, and tell them we will not pay, Citi corp will leave our rates as is. They just received billions ffron our Govt. Because of there ir responsbility The consumer should pay? I think not, Remeber people, United we stand devided we fall.
Think about That if they want to raise your rates. Its just a matter of time.

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avatar Leah

I recently had a a message saying I had ‘high risk activity’ on my account.
I cannot understand why as the only thing I use it for now is a monthly gym membership and there are no strange purchases logged.

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