- Editor's Column
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This is a true story that happened to me.
I have a Visa card, like many people do. And from time to time, the Visa company sends in the mail, some promotional cheques. The cheques are tied to your Visa account, and when you use one, it counts like a purchase or a cash advance. They are hoping you will use them to transfer some outstanding balance from another card to your Visa, or perhaps make a large purchase with them. Personally, I never use such cheques, and destroy them as soon as they arrive.
This January I went to England on a vacation. During which time the Visa company sent me some of these pesky promotional cheques.
So the promotional cheques arrived while I was away, and it happened that the mail for the townhome complex was broken into during that time and my mail was stolen. This was neither the fault of Visa or Canada Post. So it seems our theif took the promotional cheques and went shopping with them (I later learned they went to a La-Z-Boy store and spent $4500.00).
The first I hear of it is almost a month later, when I am back home. First I get back some of the stolen mail which was found somewhere nearby. Then I see the statment with the additional expense in recliner furniture.
It takes me a while to work out with the nice customer service person, during which time they cancel my card and issue a replacement card.
I told them that living in a townhome complex, the mailboxes are a regular target, and perhaps they could avoid sending me the promotional cheques. The customer service person said that was beyond their ability to do.
Within another month, the charges were reversed, and I am back to where I should be. During that time, I received about 4 mailings from my Visa company with promotional cheques in. I was getting frustrated at this time. I called up again, and went direct to the "fraud line". I explained the situation, and that I was at risk. They again said they had no way to disable the sending of promotional cheques. I made a point to tell the rep that I was putting them on notice that I will not accept responsibility for the safety of these cheques. I wondered if they could just send the promotional cheques directly to the La-Z-Boy store and save the theif some time and trouble to steal them. :-)
I wonder about the people who work in retail stores that blindly accept such promotional cheques. Usually the merchants are the ones that lose out, since the Visa company will reverse the payment to them. The merchant has then sold a product and has no revenue for it. Most stores I go to don't check my signature or ask for ID when I use a credit card. I compliment staff on the few times they do check. It is actually a good protection for me as well as the merchant.
I just wish you could have a flag set on the account "promotional cheques=NO", and then it would protect me from this. The customer service people are unable to do anything, and I don't know who can make such a change. I guess the promotional cheques are such a source of revenue, that it is worth the risk from Visa's perspective. And if the merchants don't check for ID, they put themselves at risk.
I still get promotional cheques arriving in my mailbox. I go to my mailbox every day, to reduce the chance they can be stolen, and I tear them up. I have given up complaining to my local Visa company. When I finish paying off the balance I will probably cancel my card.
P.S. Do you have any stories to share like this?