You’ll recall that after Costco announced it will drop its credit-card program with American Express in favor of a new deal with Citibank, I decided I would forego the pleasure of doing business with Citibank, use my debit card to buy at Costco (an activity that has been much curtailed of late, anyway), and replace my Costco AMEX cards with a single new AMEX account unrelated to that worthy retailer.
So about ten days or two weeks ago, I called AMEX and asked for a new account, so that would be in place well in advance of the upcoming jig at Costco.
Instinct told me that doing this would entail some sort of hassle, and so I’d better not wait till the last minute. Boy, was I right!
Yesterday evening comes in the mail a note from AMEX. “Due to the freeze you placed on your credit file, we cannot obtain the necessary information…” yada yada. They want me to call them and give them the password to unfreeze my credit bureau reports!
Yesh. Over the phone!
Well. I’m not sure how to deal with this. I unfroze those accounts and set the unfreeze for ten days. That means it took them over ten days to even bother to get around to opening a new account in my name. Plus they’ve got not one but two credit cards in my name right now, neither of which I’ve ever welched on. Since I’m already a customer, why is it necessary to jump me through a hoop to prove I’m unlikely to do anything different from what I’ve already done?
And I am not happy about giving some phone clerk in a boiler-room the key to unlock my credit bureau files.
The reason I had to freeze my credit bureau accounts was that the Maricopa County Community College District’s incompetent IT department kindly gave to hackers my full name, my address, my phone number, my date of birth, my Social Security number, my entire employment history dating back to 1967, my entire educational history including a list of every single college-level course I’ve ever taken with the number of credits and the grade I got, the name of my credit union, and the routing number and account number of my checking account.
I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect American Express to respect what little I can do to stop hackers from using that data to frickin’ ruin me.
If I’m going to do this at all, I’m going to have to wait ten or fifteen days, then go back to Equifax and hassle around with changing my password. But since AMEX doesn’t seem to be able to get off its butt in any given two-week period, that may be counterproductive.
I still have the Citibank credit card that I stopped using. Didn’t close the account (you can’t; you can’t reach a human being there to speak with), so I suppose I could just leave that one on the books, use the debit card for everything, and just not bother to use a credit card at all.
You pretty much have to have a credit card. You can’t book a motel room without one, to say nothing of buying your favorite junk form Amazon. But God, I hate doing business with Citibank.
No matter which way you turn these days, you’re hemmed in by hassle.