Why does American Express think I’m a victim of identity theft?

Posted on January 28, 2015 by in American Express Membership Rewards


I recently activated two new American Express cards. So far, so good and the friendly rep also told me about the associated bonus and the spending required.

I went on to put the first charges on my card. These were rather big charges and I expected the fraud alert to kick in right away. Up until 6 months ago, this was easy to remedy with Amex – all I needed to do was call in and say the charge was authorized by me and things would work again. Then something changed and I would need the rep to be on the line while I tried the transaction again and it needed several tries until a transaction went through.

Then 6 months ago, this wasn't enough – my word was not enough anymore (which is odd, since all cards are linked to the same social and online account) and I spent about 30 minutes in a conf. call between my bank and an Amex rep. It was friendly and professional though – just a lot of waiting. Once my bank confirmed my account history, I was good to go and the fraud block went away.

Enter Amex in 2015. I called in to verify the charges and the rep would not talk to me! She insisted on calling me back on one of the numbers on my account. None of the numbers matched my current phone number and she just hung up. I called again and asked for a different way to be verified and my call was dropped once again.

I was expecting things to settle once 24 hours had lapsed from the transaction attempt, but for my next call I was connected to a stern agent who told me that they again needed to call me back on a number that was part of my public record. None of these old phone numbers work anymore.

He put me on hold and I expected to be quizzed about my public record, but instead he came back and told me they could not be sure I was who I said I was. My account would be in 'identity theft mode' and would automatically close within two weeks unless I completed this verification:


Now this all seems easy enough, but I went to my local Chase branch and sat down with the assistant branch manager who is also a public notary. Banks in California usually don't offer notary service to non-customers and she had never heard of a 'Signature Guarantee' for verifying an ID, so we called Amex and after 10 minutes on hold we went back and forth with the rep to find out what was actually required.

Now all the info has been sent to Amex – let's hope they unblock my account!

Has anyone see this before?

Picture courtesy of fightingidentitycrimes.com

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About the author: Torsten is a serial entrepreneur who started almost a dozen ventures on four continents. Torsten's love for travel has brought him to 130+ countries and travel with most of the world's airlines. You can reach Torsten at [email protected]

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