According to Ron Lieber writing in The Wall Street Journal, “banks and retailers have an army of computers sniffing out unusual spending patterns, and every year they freeze spending on thousands of credit cards with little or no warning.” Unfortunately, many of these cards are held by honest consumers who become victims of what card issuers refer to as the “insult rate.”
Here are a few things that can trigger a fraud alert on your credit or debit card:
* Filling up a car twice in one day. (Thieves often make gas purchases to see if a stolen card still works.)
* Buying much more clothing than is typical for you.
* Using the card on the East and West coasts on the same day.
* Making big purchases in a country with high fraud levels, such as Russia, most of Eastern Europe, or South Africa.
* Using a card that has been sitting idle for months.
To reduce your personal insult rate, it might help to call your card issuer before you do something unusual with your card — but there is no guarantee that this will keep it up and running. That’s why it’s always a good idea to carry more than one card — especially when you’re traveling.