Few things are as maddening as the realization at the check-out counter that your debit or credit card has been compromised.
Just ask Julie Dreher.
In the midst of an action-packed and stressful family move from St. Francisville to Baton Rouge last summer, Julie stopped off at a Wal-Mart to pick up some supplies. It was a busy day for the working mother of three, and she wasn’t expecting the news that came after she swiped her Bank of St. Francisville (BSF) debit card.
“The clerk said my card had been frozen due to suspicious activity,” recalls Julie. “It was a Saturday, and I was like, what do I do? Start sobbing, or cussing?”
“We were surprised to see that it was the local number to the bank,” said Julie. Within a few minutes of leaving a message, however, she felt relief.
“All of a sudden, I’m getting a call from a real person at the bank,” said Julie.
On the line was BSF Electronic Banking Officer Tanya Arbuthnot.
“My first job is to make any customer going through that kind of situation feel comfortable,” said Arbuthnot. “And to let them know we’re on it and we have safeguards in place to protect their assets.”
Indeed, unbeknownst to Julie, BSF had already taken care of the first portion of the security breach. They placed a hold on Julie’s card when it was clear that fraudulent charges were being made. BSF contracts with a third-party carrier to monitor suspicious activity 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Arbuthnot says the bank had been notified of out-of-the-norm purchases across state lines, triggering the system to freeze the card to prevent additional theft. Julie had been notified by phone earlier that morning, but had missed the call juggling the frantic Saturday move.
After speaking with Julie, Tanya received permission to complete the dispute on her behalf, enabling Tanya to issue a new card to Julie that arrived within a few days.
“It’s important to me to find out what a person’s needs are and make sure we’re meeting them,” said Tanya. “I usually call them after order has been restored just to make sure everything is going well. We send a letter, of course, but I’m a country girl and I like to connect with my customers.”
Debit and credit card security breaches are an unfortunate reality today, as the vast majority of retail and online purchases are handled with a swipe. Moreover, cards don’t have to be physically stolen to be compromised. Consequently, BSF offers tight safeguards and fast, personal service to deal with security breaches. The bank also advises customers on how to minimize the chances of such incidences from happening.
“We remind our customers that some times of the year are worse than others,” said Arbuthnot. “Fraud kicks in especially during summers and holidays.”
Arbuthnot advises customers to consistently monitor their accounts, which they can check on line, in their statements or over the phone.
“A lot of times, thieves will start with really small purchases, like the cost of a Coke in a soda machine, to see if anyone notices,” says Arbuthnot. “It if goes well, they’ll buy something more expensive.”
If fraud does happen, BSF rallies on behalf of its customers. “We start by sending those charges back to the merchant to verify whether or not they checked an ID, and most of the time, they did not,” said Arbuthnot. “Our goal is to make sure our customers do not take a loss.”
More tools … more protection
There's even more protection in the pipeline. Soon to join Bank of St. Francisville's suite of online banking tools is SecurLOCK Equip, a mobile app that gives users the ability to activate or deactivate their own debit cards from their own phone, set transaction spend limits and geographic locations where the card can be used, receive instant transaction alerts, and customize each debit card to match its usage profile. Left your card in a restaurant or store? SecurLOCK lets you lock it until you can pick it up. Giving a card to a child or dependent? Monitor their spending and receive alerts. To learn more, search for SecurLOCK Equip in the Google Play or Apple App stores. Expect SecurLOCK Equip to be active by late summer, 2017.
With the latest tools and dedicated staff, Bank of St. Francisville has more power than ever to put banking convenience and security where it belongs: in the palms of its customers' hands.